Snakes on a Plane (2006)

Snakes on a Plane (2006) – This week has seen the passing of actor-turned-turned-stuntman-turned-director David R. Ellis. Ellis did stunts for movies like Lethal Weapon and Scarface and was the second unit director for movies like The Matrix Reloaded and Deep Blue Sea (the latter of which has more than a little in common with this movie). Now many probably don’t regard him as one of the greats of cinema, and I’ll certainly concede his name doesn’t belong alongside Kubrick’s but the man made some damn fun movies. I don’t remember all that much of his directorial debut Homeward Bound 2: Lost in San Francisco but I know I liked it when I was a kid. I think that he gave us the greatest and most epic car wreck in film history in Final Destination 2 (in fact I think that movie in general is better than people give it credit for). And, of course, the man gave us motherfucking snakes on a motherfucking plane. The film has been remembered as a cautionary tale that extreme internet buzz does not translate to successful box office. But box office doesn’t mean much for actual cinematic quality. How does Snakes on a Plane hold up?

And now for the plot summary: the movie is called Snakes on a Plane. That really tells you everything you need to know. Okay, I’ll go more detailed… Sean Jones (Nathan Phillips) is having fun in Hawaii when he witnesses gangster Eddie Kim (Byron Lawson) murdering a prosecutor. Sean flees but Kim and his men see him flee so now they’re after Sean to make sure he doesn’t testify. Sean is intercepted by FBi Agent Neville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson), who convinces him to do just that. Even though the murder clearly happened in Hawaii, Sean needs to fly to L.A., Kim’s hometown, to testify. Kim comes up with the ultimate plan to ensure that Sean doesn’t make it to L.A.: he fills the plane with the most deadly predator of them all… hippopotami! No… wait, it’s snakes. Sorry. My mistake. (Although hippos are no joke.) Anyway, now it’s up to Neville and the one of the flight attendants (Julianna Margulies) to make sure the snakes don’t kill everyone on board!

Will you like this movie? I think that’s pretty easy to guess just based on your reaction to the title Snakes on a Plane? So… what’s left to say? Well, I enjoy the hell out of this movie. It’s total camp and it never once tries to deny that. This is a movie that can laugh at itself. There’s one part where a flight attendant (Bruce James) throws a snake into a microwave and makes that snake explode. I never noticed it before but let’s take a look at that microwave…

snake button on microwave

My microwave doesn’t have that button… Anyway the presence of comedic actors like Keenan Thompson, Todd Louiso, and David Koechner really should establish the tone. Furthermore credit goes to Mr. Samuel L. Jackson, bringing the badassitude to everything he touches. He’s clearly enjoying himself with this and his presence as well as the fact that he is clearly in on the joke just elevates this movie. You know, when someone dies you really look back and appreciate what they’ve done even if you didn’t while they were alive. David R. Ellis never won an Academy Award or was even nominated for one (though if stuntmen/stunt coordinators had ever gotten the Oscar categories they’ve been arguing for for years, maybe he would have). I didn’t even see his last movie, Shark Night 3D (because it was PG-13 and I feel that probably eliminated most of the things I would have loved about a movie called Shark Night 3D). But now that he’s gone I look back on his body of work and realize this dude was responsible for hours of entertainment for me. Snakes on a Plane is the movie he will likely be remembered for, to the extent he is remembered. It already says that on his obituary headlines. Some people might consider that a less-than-dignified legacy. I think anything this fun is something to be proud of.

R.I.P. David R. Ellis, 1952-2013

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