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Movie Review: Snakes on a Plane

08/18/2006 at 08:15 AM EDT

Movie Review: Snakes on a Plane
James Dittiger/New Line Productions
There are two steadfast rules every mobster must follow while beating someone to death with a baseball bat: Don't wear a white suit (things tend to get bloody), and don't allow oneself to be spotted mid-swing by passers-by. Bland baddie Eddie Kim (Byron Lawson) fails on both counts, so when an FBI agent (Samuel L. Jackson) convinces the eyewitness (Wolf Creek Ken doll Nathan Phillips) to fly from Hawaii to L.A. and testify, Kim snuggles aboard a time-release crate packed with deadly cobras, rattlers and hundreds of their hissing relatives, set to wreak havoc when the redeye flight is hovering over the Pacific. "You think I didn't exhaust every other option?" Kim simpers. Guess he was fresh out of bats and white suits.

Movie Review: Snakes on a Plane| Snakes on a Plane

James Dittiger / New Line Productions

When the slithering stowaways finally kick off the mid-flight entertainment, Snakes on a Plane finally, gloriously, realizes the delectable promise of its brilliant, I-yam-what-I-yam title, a phrase that launched a thousand fan Web sites and staked out its own place in pop culture slang as a modern version of "C'est la vie." For those ravenous moments, it's impossible not to revel in giddy glee as hundreds of snakes (albeit largely of the cheesy CGI variety) rain down Old Testament-style and start a-feasting. The euphoria quickly fades, however, with the sobering realization that director David R. Ellis (Final Destination 2) is content to restage the same, monotonous scenario for the next hour: Snakes hiss and strike, people scream and drop dead.

Jackson, cruising on cool, inexplicably remains coiled for far too long. When the actor finally uncorks his long-anticipated, expletive-filled dialogue de resistance – venting his frustration with the blankety-blank snakes on the blankety-blank plane – he does so with a forked tongue-in-cheek ebullience that Snakes lamentably lacks.

So the movie didn't live up to its Internet-fueled hype. Oh well, snakes on a plane!

(R)

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(starring Samuel L. Jackson, Julianna Margulies, Nathan Phillips)

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