Combustible Celluloid
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With: Samuel L. Jackson, Julianna Margulies, Nathan Phillips, Bobby Cannavale,
Written by: John Heffernan, Sebastian Gutierrez, based on a story by David Dalessandro, John Heffernan
Directed by: David R. Ellis
MPAA Rating: R for language, a scene of sexuality and drug use, and intense sequences of terror and violence
Running Time: 105
Date: 08/17/2006

Snakes on a Plane (2006)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

'Plane' Man

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Despite the all-encompassing hype and New Line bungling the promotion by not screening it for the press, Snakes on a Plane turns out to be the 2006 summer movie that out-summers them all. Like Die Hard (1988) or Speed (1994) before it, it achieves the exact right pacing and balances it with a playful tone so that the ride is pleasurably smooth. The cast, mostly vaguely recognizable faces and supporting players, clicks perfectly, working together like a well-oiled machine. The high concept plot begins in Hawaii when surfer Sean (Nathan Phillips) witnesses a murder at the hands of a notorious gangster. FBI agent Neville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson) loads him on board a plane to take him to trial in Los Angeles, but the gangsters have filled the cargo hold with sleeping snakes, as well as a pheromone to drive them crazy. Not only can the snakes get through tiny holes in the plane's structure and attack the passengers, but they can nibble through all kinds of important cables. Director David R. Ellis (Final Destination 2, Cellular) and his team of writers milk this situation for everything it's worth, and clich�s and stereotypes aside, it works like gangbusters. Hong Kong action director Ronny Yu (The Bride with White Hair, Freddy vs. Jason) was originally attached, and certainly his film would have been a bit cleaner, but it couldn't have been more fun.

DVD Details: New Line's DVD comes with all the expected extras, including a multi-cast and crew commentary track, deleted scenes, a "gag reel," and featurettes. One featurette discusses the internet phenomenon that is now inseparable from the movie, but since the disc was put into production too soon, no one talks about how badly the movie was marketed and how quickly it flopped. Nonetheless, I stand by my review, and this is still a fun movie. Hopefully, in time, it will outgrow the hype and earn its rightful place as a cult classic.

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