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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 25.79%
Average: 10.69%
Pretty Bad: 14.47%
Total Crap: 20.75%

14 reviews, 75 user ratings

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Snakes on a Plane
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Just Because A Movie Knows It Is Crap Doesn't Make It Any Less Crappy"
1 stars

In countless interviews promoting “Snakes on a Plane”–interviews conducted by people who, thanks to New Line’s refusal to screen it in advance for anyone, never actually allowed to see it–Samuel L. Jackson has suggested that the film is the spiritual heir to those hilariously cheesy B-level campfests that used to play at the bottom of triple-bills at grindhouses in the 1970's. What he doesn’t seem to realize–or perhaps he does, since he is a smart man, and just doesn’t want to admit it–is that there is a crucial difference between those films and “Snakes on a Plane” and it is the central reason why those older works are still fun to look at while Jackson’s film is one of the most excruciatingly tedious things I’ve seen in a long time. The old films may have been dumb but they were at least earnest about trying to give the audience a good time with whatever assets they could muster on a puny budget–generally little more than a snappy title, plenty of sex, violence and weirdo humor and a gamely energetic cast and crew trying their best to entertain. “Snakes on a Plane,” on the other hand, has the snappy title and a decent budget but little else going for it. Instead, it throws together an idiotic screenplay, crappy special effects and lazy performances and smugly tries to convince us that since it knows as well as we do how lame it is, we should somehow find it in our hearts to give it a pass instead of deriding it as perhaps the first air-disaster film in screen history to pale in comparison to the relatively dignified likes of “The Concorde–Airport ‘79.”

As anyone who has turned on a computer in the last 18 months no doubt knows by now, “Snakes on a Plane” is a film that shows us what might happen if a plane were suddenly inundated with hundreds of poisonous snakes and only Samuel L. Jackson can possibly save the day. There is more to the plot, though not much more. The film opens in Hawaii as a dumb hot-rodder (Nathan Phillips) witnesses a crime kingpin beating to death the prosecutor set to take him to court. Although he keeps quiet, the kingpin sends men to rub him out and he is rescued at the last second by FBI agent Neville Flynn (Jackson). After convincing him to testify against Kim in Los Angeles, Flynn skips the private plane chartered for them and instead chooses to take the guy on a commercial flight to California. Unfortunately, the kingpin figures out the flight and manages to slip crates filled with poisonous snakes onto the same flight–his wildly elaborate and needlessly complicated plan is to set the snakes free with a time-release lock and they will bring down the plane and kill the witness, along with everyone else. (You’ll have to ask him why he goes to such elaborate lengths instead of just sticking a bomb on board–perhaps he had a surplus of rare and poisonous snakes lying around the house and needed to do something with them.) Needless to say, the snakes get loose, the day players get killed in gruesome ways and Flynn, along with a plucky stewardess played by Julianna Margulies, have to figure out both how to fend off the snakes and how to safely land the plane.<

As goofy premises go, this isn’t necessarily the worst idea and I can see how it might have actually worked in the hands of people with a flair for taking outrageous premises and running with them–imagine such a plot conceit as written by Larry Cohen (whose efforts, such as “It’s Alive,” “Q” and “Phone Booth,” have always displayed a crackpot ingenuity) and directed by Ronny Yu, the Hong Kong director who made the likes of “Seed of Chucky” and “Freddy Vs. Jason” into films far more entertaining than they had any right to be. (In fact, Yu was the original director signed on until he left the project due to “creative differences.”) Alas, “Snakes on a Plane” has been written by John Heffernan and Sebastian Gutierrez–respectively a web site designer and the author of “Gothika”–and directed by David R. Ellis, a former stunt coordinator who went on to helm the redoubtable likes of “Final Destination 2" and “Cellular” (ironically, based on a screenplay written by Larry Cohen) and their combined inspiration seems to have begun and ended with the title. Instead, they give us one Level One idea after another. We get a horny couple that meets an ugly end after slipping into the bathroom to join the mile-high club. We get another guy who goes into the other bathroom and get a nasty surprise while relieving himself. We get a yapping dog that eventually winds up in one snake’s digestive system. We get a guy who is so rude and obnoxious (and anti-American to boot) that he seems to exist only to wind up in the digestive system of the biggest snake on board. And yes, we even get the bit about the guy who gets bit in the rear and doesn’t want anyone to suck the poison out until he sees a sexy babe doing it and begins to reconsider his position on the subject.

I don’t object to the inclusion of such things–in a film entitled “Snakes on a Plane,” it would probably seem weird if they weren’t there. What I object to is the film’s utter unwillingness to put any sort of creative spin on the material to give it some life. Instead, it expends its energy into tossing in one-liners to let us know that it thinks that the material is as stupid as those in the audience with their wits about them. However, pointing out that something is stupid does not automatically make one smarter and hipper by a long shot–instead, it smacks of a smug condescension towards its audience that borders on outright contempt. If they spent half the time and energy coming up with something smart and intriguing instead of constantly winking to the audience about how dumb and predictable it actually is, this film might have actually had a shot at working as a legitimate film instead of a failing as a painfully self-aware crapfest.<

For starters, why not take a page from an earlier Sam Jackson film, the semi-immortal “Deep Blue Sea,” and kill him off halfway into the proceedings? I guarantee that such a move would have shaken things up by putting viewers on notice that this was the kind of film where anything could happen at any time. It wouldn’t have made that much of a difference since Jackson is hardly in the film anyway–there are long stretches when he all but disappears, which is kind of tricky when you consider that much of the film is set within the confines of a plane 30,000 feet in the air. When he does bother to make an appearance here and there, he just blusters and screams in a manner that doesn’t suggest Samuel L. Jackson as much as it does the version of Samuel L. Jackson that Dave Chappelle used to play on his later, great TV show. It quickly becomes clear that for all of his claims of wanting to do a deliberately silly and cheesy movie, Jackson is just coasting through another worthless movie for a big paycheck as he did with “The Man,” “Formula 51,” “State of the Union” and too many others to mention.

And yet, while “Snakes on a Plane” may fail on every artistic level possible, it will no doubt go down as a triumph on contemporary movie marketing. Clearly, New Line set out to make a serious thriller and were no doubt horrified when they saw the early rushes that showed it to be anything but. Instead of scrapping the whole thing or simply dumping it, they cleverly chose to embrace the Internet cult interest that developed around its brilliant title (including adding moments to the film inspired by fan suggestions) and created a buzz that managed to position it as a movie that knows it is stupid instead of as just another stupid movie. Instead of dismissing it as just another rip-off, those Internet geeks have decided to buy into the hype and are showing up to the film fully primed to cackle every time Samuel L. Jackson says “fuck” while congratulating themselves for being so darned hip and knowing. It goes to show you just how much things have changed over the years. Back in my day, if a studio wanted shills to push one of their dogs, they needed to pay them to do so–nowadays, they have figured out a way to convince the shills to pay them for the privilege instead.

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originally posted: 08/18/06 18:06:56
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User Comments

6/22/15 David Hollingsworth I wouldn't even recommend this for dogs. 1 stars
7/10/11 Dr.Lao FIlm makers showing their honest contempt for their audience 1 stars
7/10/11 Jennifer Barr alright, although it just seemed so predictible thru out 3 stars
12/26/10 Blue Shark Dude ... The people who don't get it are Republicans anyway ... so no loss. 5 stars
6/01/10 User Name Snakes On A Plane aims low, and hits lower. 2 stars
10/25/09 Miss Snake The best fun a movie could offer. The fake looking CGI snakes are hysterically funny. 4 stars
7/25/09 Jeff Wilder Works better if you view it as a comedy rather than as a thriller. 3 stars
3/07/08 SamanthaPayntr it definitely delivered, there were snakes and they were on a plane, pretty good stuff 3 stars
7/27/07 TreeTiger A piece of cinematic shit - I recommend... Anything BUT this... 1 stars
7/11/07 Tiffany Losco I thought it was ok, but I didn't like the blonde bimbo in the bathroom 2 stars
4/02/07 CAB I was expecting Leslie Nielsen to show up at any minute… 2 stars
3/29/07 Your mom Assholes, this movie is the worst shit ever.STUPID. ASS. HOLES. 1 stars
2/27/07 Asian God 94 The BEST B-grade horror movie of all time! Compulsary Viewing 5 stars
2/19/07 JM Synth No where near as fun, or silly, as it should have been 3 stars
2/14/07 Prada it was sooo.. bad it was actually good 3 stars
2/05/07 MickT Samuel L. Jackson is the biggest sell-out EVER!! what a piece of shit this film is!!! 1 stars
2/03/07 Indrid Cold Upside: it's as exciting as a snakes/planes movie could possibly be. Downside: ditto. 3 stars
2/02/07 Anthony Feor People expect us to take this movie seriously? 0.5/5 1 stars
1/22/07 Matt It should be clasified as COMEDY 5 stars
1/19/07 Jeff Brown pitiful 1 stars
1/14/07 Sugarfoot It felt like an Airport sequel. Overall not as fun as I thought it would be. 2 stars
1/09/07 Matt Get a life, have a laugh - this is FUN,FUN,FUN! 4 stars
12/10/06 JoKimiKo the movie is AwsOme but ur REviEw! is craP 1 stars
11/18/06 Lerker You are the worst reveiwer. Ever. 1 stars
11/17/06 Nick So, you gave Borat 1 Star, but SOAP 5 Stars? I do not comprehend your thought process. 3 stars
11/11/06 Serge Piece of crap IMO. Snakes on crack...har har. 2 stars
10/28/06 DIANA a movie to watch on tv if nothing else to watch 2 stars
10/25/06 Drew G So bad it was good... 3 stars
10/13/06 Erin Get out of the mud u sticks, it was great fun!!! 4 stars
10/09/06 Mike Nothing great to me. Something to watch if really bored. 2 stars
9/30/06 NiCk Great movie! Was Pulp Fiction good because of its plot? 5 stars
9/21/06 malcolm awful, but a lot of damn fun 3 stars
9/13/06 Edward Connell A purposefull movie that will lead you on an adventure in excitement and possibility. 4 stars
9/12/06 Louise Good fun and a pretty tense ride!!! 4 stars
9/12/06 Michael Coovert Samuel Jackson's stock just plumeted in my book!! Total schtick and effects fodder!!! 1 stars
9/12/06 Kevin Ramsay "Snakes On A Plane" is pure fun. Don't take it too seriously, though. 5 stars
9/11/06 Aaron This move was a blast! 4 stars
9/03/06 Christopher Stucky The hype WAS the story. The movie was an afterthought. 1 stars
9/02/06 Stubby If you all were any stupider, you'd have to be told when to breathe. Kill yourselves. 1 stars
8/31/06 Christine it was soooooo awesome I want to see it over and over again 5 stars
8/28/06 Serina Boccello COME ON!! who honestly wants to see THIS movie!! SNAKES AGGHHH!!! 2 stars
8/28/06 Grant Funny, well acted, stupid jokes, scenes and endless funny deaths. 5 stars
8/27/06 Alan Snakes on a Plane happens 5 stars
8/26/06 Mike D Only movie I've seen in this year that got a standing ovation from the entire theater! 5 stars
8/26/06 michael average and wait for the DVD 4 stars
8/26/06 Stanley Thai Still an average thriller without the famous title. Nothing special. 3 stars
8/26/06 Alex Thorne does exactly what it says on the tin. gruesomly marvellous 4 stars
8/25/06 Robert Blanton Mr. Souter nailed this snake right on the head! 2 stars
8/25/06 Zaw Snakes bites.. lol 5 stars
8/24/06 philip Corcos corcos 5 stars
8/23/06 Centipedes "Snakes? On MY plane?" It's more likely than you think. 5 stars
8/23/06 Quigley much more violent than I thought; sex scene pointless; but Sam Jackson and the snakes rock 4 stars
8/22/06 A. Shah The best time I've had in a movie since I was a kid. I'm now 33. 5 stars
8/22/06 Pn. 1000 fanboys collaborated on the script. That it's schwag should surpise no one. 2 stars
8/22/06 danthewrestlingman Snakes On A Motherfuckin Plane Beeoch Nuff Said 5 stars
8/22/06 Ole Man Bourbon Not enough snakes. JIMMIE BELLE TURN OFF YOUR GODDAMN CAPS LOCK. 3 stars
8/22/06 Sammy J. This movie is the most balla shit eva! 5 stars
8/22/06 Harold You are all tools. 1 stars
8/21/06 Captain Highcrime Not since the glory days of "Married...with Children" have audiences been so boisterous. 5 stars
8/21/06 Jeff Martin Awesome movie, great fun and entertainment, brianorndorf is full of crap in his review 5 stars
8/20/06 ajay go in a packed theatre of nerds who "get it". Otherwise, it's horrible. 4 stars
8/20/06 ray best time i've had at the movies in years. great cinema? maybe not. still fun. 5 stars
8/19/06 Alex S AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME 5 stars
8/19/06 Nads Snakes on a muthafuckin' PLANE! 5 stars
8/19/06 KingNeutron Decent; some really scary parts. Take S.O. to see it. 4 stars
8/19/06 Jesus WAAAY better than expected... ridiculous, stupid, and amazing! 1 stars
8/19/06 Keith This movie was boring. What is up with Snakes on a plane who cares. A total waste of money. 1 stars
8/19/06 Kent Battersby Best. Movie. Ever...SNAKE VISION!!! 5 stars
8/19/06 Adrian It's fun. It's that simple. No thinking, no shit liek that, just fun. 5 stars
8/18/06 Joe Baldwin The audience makes all the difference. Laughter and applause filled the room for 2 hours. 5 stars
8/18/06 Andrew The most fun I've had in a theatre... EVER. 5 stars
8/18/06 Doug Higley Absolute BEST B Horror Ever. Total Fun at breakneck pacing. 5 stars
8/18/06 Squibner Welch Fantastic fun 5 stars
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  18-Aug-2006 (R)
  DVD: 02-Jan-2007



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