Goofy Return to Epics
Snakes on a Plane. Samuel L. Jackson and Julianna
Margulies star in a film written by John Heffernan and Sebastian
Gutierrez and directed by David R. Ellis.
Reviewed by D.J. Palladino
Mm-hmm, that’s good satire. We all know send-ups can be broad
like Airplane!, rich and diffuse like Kung Fu Hustle, or lovingly
cut from the same cloth as in Sam Raimi’s Army of Darkness. Now, we
have David R. Ellis’s Snakes on a Plane, which is an un-smug, goofy
return to the epic disaster films of yore.
From Airport! to Earthquake, the structure of that essentially
1970s genre was to first painstakingly introduce a cast of
seemingly random characters and then wreak bloody havoc on them.
This film, both hilarious and gruesome, harkens back to a cheesier,
more risk-taking epoch of Hollywood. Opening in Hawai‘i, for the
first half hour it’s lit like an explosion in a pastel leisure suit
factory. With a few deft, corny moves, including a pheromone spray
on leis, it becomes an attack on every orifice of the human
Ellis, who has been around action movies all his life, directed
the tense, underrated Cellular last year. He knows when to move
slowly to establish the sweet and sour sides of his
protagonist/victims. But even better, he knows how to unleash
spasms of mayhem with a wicked sense of humor.
Of course, Samuel L. Jackson is the real reason to see this
film. What other star could play both a Jedi knight and a Tarantino
hit man with such extroverted grace? He’s an actor who understands
that movies are bigger than life, and yet he’s not afraid to be
upstaged by a motherf@$*#& animatronic python on a