Saturday, March 26, 2016

Snakes on a Plane

Year 8, Day 86 - 3/26/16 - Movie #2,286

BEFORE: Since it's still the clean-up year, the year where (ideally) I'm going to catch up with all of those films that somehow fell through the cracks before, and this is an ideal candidate.  This film was an internet joke when it first came on the scene, then it became a marketing phenomenon, then a cultural touchstone, then I think it became something of a joke again.  That's bound to happen, I guess - but since I've never seen it, I have no idea whether it works or not as a movie.  Well, I'm all for crossing these things off the list, so let's have at it. 

Linking from "Robocop 3", Jeff Garlin was in "Fat Albert" with Kenan Thompson (last seen in "They Came Together"), and this puts me back on the Samuel L. Jackson track.

THE PLOT:  An FBI agent takes on a plane full of deadly and venomous snakes, deliberately released to kill a witness being flown from Honolulu to Los Angeles to testify against a mob boss.

AFTER: "Ophidiophobia" is the fear of snakes, while it seems like "aviophobia" is the fear of flying - damn those Ancient Greeks, it's almost like they didn't even have a word for "airplane" or something.   Put them together and you've got - well, a great big mess of anxieties rolled into one.  But "phobia" to me implies an irrational fear, and I feel the fear of anything that can kill you is perfectly justified.  If someone were to tell me that my fear of snakes is irrational, I'd be happy to correct them and point out that it's very rational indeed.  Same goes for fear of heights, fear of sharks, fear of drowning, fear of being buried alive.  Fear can be good, fear can keep you out of those situations where you are at risk, and who's to say that can't save your life when it counts?  

OK, so maybe my fear that somehow a snake has gotten into my bathroom, or any public restroom, and slithered its way into a very cool, wet comfortable place like a toilet bowl is a little bit outrageous.  But you know, that ONE TIME that I don't check the bowl for snakes before sitting down on it, there's going to be a snake in it, and then I'll be very embarrassed (or, you know, dead) because I didn't check. Even if I survive that, the ER doctor will say, "Didn't you check for snakes before you sat down, like a sensible person does?"  And I'll say, "Well, I usually do, but the thousands of times I've checked for snakes before, there were no snakes, so I figured I was in the clear."  No, you have to check EVERY time, or else you get a situation like what's seen in this film, where a snake's coiled up in the airport toilet, and you end up peeing on it, and then it bites you in a very sensitive area, you react and smack your head against the bathroom mirror, and you die from a combination snake bite and head wound.  So, great, now I have to worry about all that the next time I fly.  

(I have a powerful bladder, though, from all the hours I've sat in Comic-Con booths with limited bathroom breaks.  As long as I use the restroom just before my flight, I can usually make it across the country without using the bathroom on the plane.  Something I'm proud of, because I don't believe man was meant to relieve himself at 35,000 feet in the air.  Heck, I don't think we're even supposed to be at that altitude at all, I regard flying as a necessary evil for getting to the West Coast - if I could get there by train, I would.  Amtrak bathrooms are much bigger and nicer.  When the airlines can guarantee they can get me somewhere without crashing, which they CAN'T, maybe I'll relax.)  

I should probably discuss the plot, and I was pretty surprised to find out that there even WAS a plot - there's a man who witnessed a murder, and federal agents need to get him to L.A. by plane so he can testify.  The murderer, an apparently well-connected man with access to both snakes and airline security officers, puts thousands of poisonous snakes on a plane, with a device timed to release them.  Essentially, a snake bomb, designed to kill everyone on the plane by either snake-bite or plane crash, and who's going to notice one dead witness among a plane of dead people?  And because it's SO much easier to get boxes and boxes of snakes into a cargo hold instead of one small explosive device.  (Maybe it is, I don't know - it's not like they have dogs trained to smell for snakes.)  

And it's not just the presence of snakes, it's the variety involved - even if the passengers were to somehow survive all of the snakes, and the plane makes it to L.A., there are so many different types of venoms and anti-venoms, and giving the wrong anti-venom to someone could also kill them, so someone really might have put some thought into this plan.  Is it possible, could a screenwriter have done some actual research on this?  On snakes, that is, not on airport security, or the mechanics of flying and landing a plane... 

For the most part, it's falling back on horror-movie conventions, like if someone acts like an asshole, they deserve to die.  If someone has illicit sex, they deserve to die.  If someone disables an airport restroom smoke detector, well, you get the idea.  And there's no shortage of assholish behavior on any given plane, especially after the federal agents take over first-class and make all those entitled people fly coach.  The spoiled rich woman with the handbag chihuahua, the man who can't stand being disturbed by the crying baby, the woman WITH the crying baby.  They all deserve it, right?  But not the large people who encroach upon the personal space of the people seated next to them - trust me, as a large person myself, we can't help it!  They make those damn seats too small, and if I have to get on board early and lift up the armrest between the seats so my neighbor can't find it at first, I'm doing it for their benefit - even though our legs might now touch, which I agree is not ideal, I'll be a little bit more comfortable, I'll be more pleasant, and if I'm not squeezed in, I won't have to disturb them by getting up to use the restroom, which I don't want to do anyway.  

But damn, do I have to start worrying about snakes on my plane now?  Can't the airline do something to relieve my fears?  Heck, I can't even have a package of peanuts now on the plane if there's someone on board who's allergic.  Guess what, airlines, we're ALL allergic to poisonous snakes!  I don't care if this was a cheezy comedy-horror film that was never meant to be taken seriously, now I want to know what steps are being taken to keep snakes off of my plane, now that I've seen what they're capable of.

Also starring Samuel L. Jackson (last seen in "Robocop"), Julianna Margulies (last seen in "The Newton Boys"), Nathan Phillips, Rachel Blanchard (last seen in "Where the Truth Lies"), Flex Alexander, David Koechner (last seen in "Anchorman 2"), Bobby Cannavale (last seen in "Spy"), Todd Louiso, Keith Dallas, Casey Dubois, Sunny Mabrey, Lin Shaye (last seen in "Stuck on You"), Bruce James, Terry Chen, Taylor Kitsch (last seen in "John Carter"), Samantha McLeod, Elsa Pataky, Byron Lawson, Kevin McNulty (last seen in "Narrow Margin").

RATING: 4 out of 10 beverage carts

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