SNAKES ON A PLANE, on the face of it, seems to be the sort of film you find cluttering up the shelves of your local video emporium, usually alongside titles such as ULTIMATE IMPACT or, my own particular favourite, BOA VS PYTHON. Cheap, straight-to-video nonsense starring somebody you?e never heard of it who might have been in an episode of something once, full of badly-rendered CGI of a giant spider or a big meteorite. Cast aside such thoughts! SNAKES ON A PLANE is a big, bold feature film and it? absolutely brilliant. It? a massive breath of fresh air in a Hollywood currently suffocating under the weight of increasingly-tired superhero movies, noisy pointless sequels and desperate rehashes of old TV shows. The film has enjoyed a colourful gestation on the internet where it? been a cause celebre for months, with numerous movie geeks championing its cause even before they? seen a frame of it. I? proud to report that their faith has been more than justified by this marvellously silly movie.

SNAKES ON A PLANE works so well because its script is so beautifully crafted. No, seriously. Ostensibly a good old-fashioned disaster/monster film packed with clich?canon fodder characters, SNAKES plays on its audiences expectations and delivers a story which is at once tongue-in-cheek and arch and yet also laced with some genuine scares and jump-in-your-seat moments. Here? a film that starts as it means to go on; a prosecutor is brutally murdered in Honolulu by a vicious local gangster and the only witness is taken into protective custody by the FBI. Persuaded to give evidence against the killer , he? travelling by air to Los Angeles under the watchful eye of FBI agent Neville Flynn (Samuel L Jackson, quite possibly the coolest man on the planet). But the plane has an unexpected ?and unwelcome ?cargo. Hundreds of vicious deadly snakes from all over the world have been secreted in the hold and when they get free things are going to get slippery.

SNAKES ON A PLANE does what it says on the tin. John Hefferman and Sabastian Gutierrez? smart script is full of witty characterisation and laugh out-loud gags and the characters, usually cyphers in these sorts of films, are nicely rounded. The plane? passengers include a filthy rich rapper and his posse, a nervous newly-wed and his wife, a couple of kids travelling on their own for the first time, an arsey businessman, a young mother, a ditzy blonde with her pet Chihuahua plus a couple of flight attendants, one of whom is taking her last flight before changing her career. Up in first class Agent Flynn and his partner are urbanely watching over their charge, unaware of the chaos about to ensue on board?n

And what chaos! SNAKES ON A PLANE gets grisly quite quickly and the first few deaths will bring tears to your eyes. When the snakes ?beautifully rendered, entirely convincing CGI creations ?escape en masse and start attacking the passengers, there? gore galore and some very primal fears are awoken as the passengers fly into an understandable panic. David R Ellis directs these actions sequences with enormous flair and he handles the character stuff just as well, making us actually care about some of these people who might otherwise just be there to be bitten to death.

Throughout its lean one hundred minute running time SNAKES ON A PLANE is packed with tension and invention. As if the terror of the snakes themselves isn? enough, the final reel leaves the plane plunging towards LA International Airport without a pilot and with the only possible salvation coming from a most unusual, and quite hilarious, place.

SNAKES ON A PLANE is a hoot. The audience I saw it with laughed in all the right places and jumped and screamed too. For what it is, it? perfectly pitched and it never puts in a foot wrong. An unexpected pleasure, it? the perfect antidote to some of the turgid, pretentious summer fare we?e had to ensure this year. SNAKES ON A PLANE certainly isn? a load of old cobras; it all adders up to a great cinema treat. Venom have I ever let you down before? (All right, all right, I? goingu


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