Snakes on a Plane
When Mike and I arrived at the theater, the audience was amped up, and chants for "snakes on a plane!" started up several times, even as early as 20 minutes before the scheduled showtime. The folks immediately behind us tried several times to entertain the audience with choreographed callouts (first person: "It's snakes!", second person: "It's a plane!", third person: "How can it be both?" all: "It's SNAKES ON A PLANE!"). Thankfully few enough people heard them, else they might have been encouraged to do more. Before the lights dimmed, a theater employee came in and introduced the uniformed police officer who would be monitoring the movie. We were all warned that any rubber snakes that appeared would be immediately confiscated. The theater employee chose a rather unfortunate construction for her sentence, though, and most of the audience cracked up when she said warned that "if you pull out your snakes, the officer will take them." ;)
There were a few more trailers than I thought necessary, and I can only remember one of them right now: "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning". The trailer opened with a long shot of flat land, to which Mike quipped loudly "Snakes on a plain!" Alas, few people picked up the pun.
And then the movie started, and the audience went wild. The beginning was slightly longer than I felt was necessary, but I was willing to forgive them if they had trouble filling 90 minutes with snake action. The cast of characters was introduced fairly naturally, and Mike and I fell into an easy rhythm trying to guess which of the passengers were plainly marked for an early demise. In this aspect, the movie held some refreshing surpises, and broke from the thriller mold in which one might place it.
Most of the snakes were clearly digitally inserted, which was somewhat disappointing, even if it was understandable. The bulk of the really gorey -- and crowd pleasing, I might add -- stuff happens pretty soon after the snakes make their presence known. I didn't realize (at the time ) as the movie progressed that the attacks grew less interesting or sensational as the movie progressed. I guess the director's plan to have a big push early on to set the tone for the rest of the story worked fairly well, as we were all interested in seeing how things played out.
There were a few obligatory scare scenes, where a snake lashes out from some dark corner, or when a door is opened; but thankfully the scares came from other avenues as well. There was one particular gimmick which had the crowd roaring with delight. I can't reveal the gimmick without spoiling its initial effect, but needless to say you'll know it as soon as you see it. It was truly surprising, and altough it was a bit cheesy it was also a lot of fun (yes, I recognize that the entire premise for this movie is cheesy! But it's still a fun movie!).
The cast of characters was fairly well balanced, with a nursing mom, two young boys travelling alone, and a variety of vacationers and business people returning from Hawai'i. There was a fair bit of predictability for those who follow the archetypes on movie genres, but they worked well enough. And come on, this movie isn't about any particular character's development or redemption: it's about snakes on a plane! ;)
The movie held plenty of laughs along with the scares. Mike made a great Indiana Jones joke as the snakes started showing up, which had me and a few folks around us laughing hard. Samuel Jackson's famous quote was very well received, to cheers and laughs. Several of the snake sequences are delightfully gross.
On our way out, Mike tried very hard to make the case that this was a legal thriller, about the prosecution's star witness and the heroic agent assigned to protect him. I tried equally hard to claim that it was an allegory for the Adam and Eve story, using the brief appearance of an Apple iBook to signify the Fruit of Forbidden Knowledge, and the rather obvious appearance of the serpent(s). We both giggled at the other's efforts. If you see the movie, share your off-the-wall interpretation in the comments below!