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Monday, May 08, 2006

Snakes on a Plane A.K.A. "SOAP"

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Julianna Margulies, David Koechner, Kenan Thompson, Rachel Blanchard, Byron Lawson, Nathan Phillips

Plot Summary: FBI agent Nelville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson) has been tasked with a relatively dull babysitting job, as he must accompany an essential trial witness from Hawaii to Los Angeles. The man he’s escorting can provide vital testimony that could incriminate a major mob boss. For Flynn, it is nearly the end of a long personal struggle to capture the reclusive Mafioso. As the unsuspecting pair boards the airplane that will take them to L.A., they are unaware of the mob boss’s somewhat unconventional plan to kill the witness before he ever reaches the final destination. An assassin will release a crate full of snakes while the plane is airborne. Flynn, his witness, the rookie pilot, and the terrified passengers must band together if they are going to survive the ordeal.

Snakes on a Plane
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Let’s talk about the title for a moment, which is either one of the best or one of the worst titles for a movie. You can decide. I feel that there is something to its simple descriptive quality. It should be pretty obvious what you are going to get from the film – a potent mix of deadly snakes and an airplane full of people. After that, you tend to instinctively imagine the worst. The secret probably lies in the combination of those two words “plane” and “snakes,” both of which relate back to our basic human fears of flying and, well, venom (or teeth, or death). I think it’s brilliant. Variety reports that this film has been getting incredible buzz since the summer of 2005, when it was first announced. It has been one of the most anticipated releases of 2006, despite zero advertising. Everything thanks to the inspired title. Apparently, websites have already been devoted to the film and have even developed a phrase out of the title. “Snakes on a Plane” is meant to describe a situation that has gotten so bad that it is uncontrollable. For example: “Ever since I forgot about the big project, my relationship with my boss is like ‘snakes on a plane.’” All this leads to only one conclusion: the film should manage to rake in a healthy amount of money once it comes out.

Hopefully, the actual movie will be as brilliant as the title, but that is rather doubtful. The entire premise is a fantastic gimmick, but the ridiculous nature is full of holes. For one, there is no guarantee that a bunch of loose snakes would actually kill the intended target. Second, why not just land the plane and evacuate? On the other hand, the fact that I’m even asking these questions suggests that I’m hooked on the idea. I hope that the filmmakers are aware of these problems and will be able to have fun with some of this absurd material. This is exactly why the inclusion of SNL veterans is so relevant. I think that Ellis will attempt the same type of trickery that he did with Cellular. By combining the implausible situation with humor, the film will not be open to such obvious criticism. It’s the only way Snakes on a Plane could work.

In Conclusion: Contrary to the manner other websites have applied to describe the film, it will not be a straightforward thriller. There will surely be comedic elements blended in to lighten up the atmosphere. Once the novelty of the idea wears off, however, I think that we will be left with a fairly generic adventure movie. I think the premise lends itself to many potentially outrageous situations, but as a late summer film, I think that Snakes on a Plane will be boggled down with some fairly conventional moments. I can’t deny that there’s something about the premise that has a grip on me so unless some new distressing information comes out before its release, I’ll be looking forward to this odd concept.

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