Minor spoiler alert
I’m not much of a moviegoer. The last time I went to the cinema was to see Signs (it wasn’t my choice), starring that popular fellow Mel Gibson. In case you have forgotten this forgettable movie, it featured aliens that were scared by water. The entire length of the film was spent avoiding the question: If these aliens are so scared of water, why the hell did they land on Earth, a planet which is >70% water? That was four years ago.
The time before that was to see Austin Powers 2. There was a powercut in the middle of the film. That was in Kirkcaldy’s own scummy ABC cinema, when Kirkcaldy still had a cinema (we now have to make a bloody 40 minute round trek to Dunfermline for the nearest cinema). That was seven years ago. I can’t even remember the time before that. I was probably an actual child.
I don’t even watch films on the television all that much. It just doesn’t really float my boat. But there was no way I was going to miss Snakes on a Plane.
The problem was that it was difficult to know exactly how to approach the film. We know that the film was supposed to be a thriller / horror / disaster film. But all of the hype on the internet gave the film such an inherently comic twist.
When you hear of them shooting new scenes to include comedy lines like “I have had it with these motherfuckin’ snakes on the motherfuckin’ plane” and literally sex up the film because of all the internet hype, you half expect a comedy film, or at least a film that isn’t taking itself too seriously. This suspicion increases when you see that one of the actors is Keenan from Keenan & Kel.
Indeed, my friend was guffawing all the way through the film, mostly in bits that weren’t funny. He was, though, the only person in the entire cinema laughing, bar a few titters here and there. There was one part that I found quite funny though, when all of the lights in the plane go out and you hear somebody in the distance shout: “SNAKE!â€
But most of the film is delivered with a straight face. A lot of it is actually pretty gory, and not in a slapstick blood-n-guts type way à la Troma. This would be just like any other horror / disaster movie were it not for all of the internet hype and the refreshingly unpretentious film title. They almost called this film ‘Pacific Air Flight 121’. That pretty much sums up why I don’t like watching films much.
Samuel L. Jackson has it spot on about the title, which he says is the only reason he took the job:
It’s not Gone with the Wind. It’s not On the Waterfront. It’s Snakes on a Plane!
Of course, were it not for that title — and the fact that Samuel L. Jackson is starring in the film with that title — there would have been no internet buzz. In one sense, I think the way New Line handled the buzz was pretty cool, when they decided to add lines that internet users came up with (mind you, these lines stuck out like a sore thumb. “That’s all we need — snakes on crack” was particularly bad).
In another sense I think — in typical MSM ivory tower style — they have misread the buzz. For instance, I don’t understand why it meant that they had to crowbar new sex and drug scenes in a deliberate attempt to get an R rating. And I’ve noticed that New Line have been disappointed by box office takings so far:
“I think people were more excited about the marketing than the actual movie,” said [Paul] Dergarabedian of Exhibitor Relations. “New Line did not set out to create this Internet buzz. That’s actually a marketer’s dream, but when marketing translates into awareness but does not inspire people to get out from behind their computers and into the theater, that’s a problem.”
Dergarabedian might think that the internet hype was a marketer’s dream — but it must be a filmmaker’s nightmare. In reality, anybody who saw the film because of the internet buzz saw the film because of the internet buzz, and not because they wanted to see the film. As soon as Samuel L. Jackson said, “I’ve had it with these motherfuckin’ snakes on a motherfuckin’ plane,” the film was essentially over.
The Snakes on a Plane internet buzz says much more about the internet than it says about Snakes on a Plane. The film itself is completely meaningless compared to the many virals and memes that have been out there on the internet. The event was not the film’s opening on Friday; the event has been happening on the internet for months.
That said, I was actually quite impressed with Snakes on a Plane as a film, so I would recommend this even if you’re reluctant about it.