Now you don’t even have to see it

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The Samuel Jackson flick Snakes on a Plane will hit theaters everywhere tomorrow with perhaps more internet hype and a longer Wikipedia article than any new release in history. It’s also most likely the only film to inspire spinoffs before even reaching the viewing public, including–but not limited to–SoaP Sudoku, the prequel Snakes on a Biplane, two TV sitcoms, and the straight-to-video Snakes on a Train. Unable to contain his curiosity, Bwog correspondent John Shekitka picked up the book version, and has this review. Warning: spoilers abound!

Are you afraid of snakes? Afraid of planes? How about Snakes On a Plane? Want to hear the only thing more terrifying than this deadly combination? Its novelization!

Christina Faust, who also committed to paper Final Destination 3, has managed to craft this 400-page one-trick pony into an engaging read. Fortunately, Ms. Faust seems to understand that the plot just serves as one long prologue for the main event: snakes killing people on a plane. Character sketches will serve as the appetizer. Fanged carnage will be the entrée.

The plot is classically B-movie: a surfer dude in Hawaii finds himself sole witness to a cadre of Korean Mafioso types beating the crap out of a District Attorney with a bat. Enter FBI Agent Neville Flynn, Samuel L. Jackson’s character in the film version. In a pitfall of the medium, the paperback fails to fully convey Flynn’s ass-kicking aspect, leaving me to envision a huge bald-headed black guy with a Jedi cloak and purple lightsaber.

Since the Koreans are on to the surfer dude, Flynn must protect the witness by sending a decoy flight back to a trial on the mainland while he takes the surfer dude on Pacific Air Flight 121. A flight which—are you beginning to see where this is going?—proves to be infested with a menagerie of rare and deadly snakes.

That’s really the lynchpin of the story. But one improbable plot twist does not a novel make, and here Faust launches into filler: 150 pages of interesting yet generally irrelevant character sketches. The Prada-wearing Paris Hilton type, the pregnant girl, the two little boys flying alone for the first time, the rapper and closeted obsessive compulsive, all receive similar treatment. Perhaps the best of the lot is a psychic who has visions of snakes on the plane, and—like Laocoon and the Trojan Horse—warns of the vessel’s deadly cargo.

After the snakes are released, bloodshed and stragulation ensue. I imagine that scenes of panic will compose most of the film, for those of us who enjoy the incongruity of dying at the hands—coils?—of wild animals on something so inorganic as an aircraft. For comedic effect, the germophobic rapper, unable to locate his hand sanitizer, flips out and threatens to shoot everyone.

Here, we run across the book’s fundamental tension: Snakes’ plot is meant to be taken seriously, but because of its sheer outlandishness, the narrative comes closer to veering off towards absurdity. Ms. Faust constantly asks us to accept that there will be snakes on this plane, but even the passengers seem to understand the unbelievable irony of the situation, constantly trying to get over the reality that confronts them. Perhaps that’s why Jackson, the film’s consistent champion, fiercely fought an attempt to rename the movie “Pacific Air Flight 121”—it’s just really all about putting snakes on a plane and imagining what might happen.

Nevertheless, for a concept that so far has only delivered us a catchy title and a sweet movie logo reminiscent of Double Dragon, Snakes on a Plane does not disappoint. The plot is completely tolerable, the character development adequate, and the whole dish is really just a more absurd version of Air Force One. Still, after two hours of watching snakes on a plane, I cannot help but wondering if I too will have—in the phrase uttered across the blogosphere–“had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane.”

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  1. does anybody else

    hate everything and everybody associated w/this?

    No. I'm not going to watch the movie and I don't think samuel l jackson exlaiming 'there be muthaf$#%^T$# snakes on the mutha$%##^^%$ plane' is the funniest thing i've ever heard.


    • after

      "rules of engagement," Sammy L. Jackson's comedy routine pretty much became uttering the word "motherfucking" in front of everything possible. would that we could turn his career back to the heady days of "pulp fiction"

    • agree...

      to think he was shaft

    • hey

      Don't be an asshole. I pretended I was too cool for this movie for a few months, mostly because people obsessed with it were annoying the fuck out of me.

      But I jumped back on the bandwagon for the movie, and to be honest I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't. It's that good, and if you want to miss out on it because you only like camp when it's esoteric, that's too bad.

      • i hear you

        why can't assholes just like the same mindless crap you like? i mean everyone only dislikes things so that they can keep on racking up 'cool' points because they haven't grown out of high school yet. Or so that they can have more indie cred by listening to another pretentious alternative band in a nyc basement, by reading and venerating camus and sartre to excess, and

        only giving two thumbs up about films that involve at least one sex change and guy on guy makeout session

        Newsflash- people find different things funny. I don't think this movie is going to be funny. It's the reason some person who loved rambo probably won't se 'step up'. If you personally 'jumped' on and off the bandwagon and pretended you were too cool then that only indicates you and you alone are still stuck in the vacuous mind games high schoolers like to play. And now you're trying to use peer pressure to prod those who don't like the movie to do so.

        I'm calling the guidance counselor.

  2. Ah!  

    Snakes on a Plane was cool for like two minutes six months ago.

  3. cynic

    who died and made u movie reviewer

  4. who are you?

    and why do you take everything so seriously and get so angry?

  5. The Voice of Reason

    I've read enough of these ridiculous overgeneralizations. I hate it when people love and equally when they hate. I stand irresolutely by the Golden Mean.

    Also, much though I appreciate Mr. Shekitka's article, I smell in it a whiff of dishonesty. I would be *mildly* shocked if he truly had the willpower to trudge through 400 "terrifying" pages, but not to "help but wondering" a painfully obvious pun.

    John, redeem yourself by answering me this: does Samuel Jackson issue that famous declaration in the novelization as well?

    • John Shekitka

      Indeed Samuel L. Jackson issues his famous declaration in the novelization and yes, I did read all 400 pages of my own volition. Although I think the movie might be too much for me. Too much Snakes on a Plane.

  6. holy crap

    Columbia plays Duke in basketball (that's the soccer equivalent of equitorial guinea taking on brazil for all you not that into college sports)

    that might even mean a return game in levien or msg next year!

    unless its a one time tourney

    either way, damn

    p.s. sorry to hijack the thread

  7. US News ranking out

    We're number 9, tied with Dartmouth, beneath Penn; which I find baffling.

  8. DHI

    Snakes on a Plane is a great movie and talking about it or reading novelizations has nothing to do with it.

  9. continuing,

    basically the only points I'm trying to make are that

    1) Anti-movement members are just as much tools as the movement members (Hot Topic?)

    2) If you don't like this movie your sense of humor sucks.

    • see 24

      is obviously sarcasm because due to the contention made in one, ipso fact, commentator 24 would be a massive tool for seriously making statement #2

      by the way, i'm the first poster and you can register your dislike of something w/o being part of a 'movement'. we're not all either rock or r&b fans, or red/blue state-ers.

      as for 23, assuming that's a different person--what do you mean unique/intersting/enlightened stance? it's a popcorn flick-i'm not coming at it from an angle. i'm just saying it looks stupid to me, i'm sure it looks great to others. you don't need to deconstruct everything

    • hot topic

      I hope to god you're an incoming freshman, because mentioning hot topic outside the suburban mall clique you hung out with in high school is strictly verboten.

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