-MONTHLY VHS & DVD REVIEW-
Snakes On A Plane|
cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Julianna Margulies, Nathan Phillips, Rachel Blanchard, and Flex Alexander
director: David R. Ellis
102 minutes (15) 2006
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
EIV DVD Region 2 retail
reviewed by Christopher Geary
It is with great and sincere regret that I report the passing of, our true 'brother', the
popular actor Mr Samuel Leroy Jackson, a star of screen and DVD extras. He was, undoubtedly,
of course, the finest black thespian of the late 20th century, an avid golfer, and the epitome
of 'cool' in all of your favourite Hollywood motion pictures.
"I will strike down upon thee with great
vengeance and furious anger..."
His romanticised hitman, Jules, in Quentin Tarantino's absurdly tragic fable Pulp Fiction
(1994), taught everyone about Ezekiel, and won him an Oscar nomination. When Bruce Willis wanted
a fast-talking, hip sidekick for Die Hard 3, they had no option but to cast Sam Jackson.
As sidekick Mitch, in classic thriller The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996), Jackson was not
above playing his supporting role for chuckles, evidentially awestruck by the mystery and wrath
of Geena Davis as a deconstructed feminist assassin. Ordell, the arms dealer, in Tarantino's
Jackie Brown (1997), was so laidback that furniture designers named a king sized bed after
him... When they needed someone for the otherwise unremarkable remake of Shaft (2000),
Jackson was the top choice on a very short list of blaxploitation champions. Proving that he
could be fragile and still get the job done, as comicbook obsessed Elijah in
the key to opening another chapter of Jackson's appointed career as character actor par excellence.
Jackson's unintentionally homicidal chemist, Elmo McElroy, found his Scottish roots and, as
kilt-less golfer, teed off naked, in sublime British comedy thriller
The 51st State.
There, he goes... larger than life. Here, Jackson lost much of his dignity when he stoops to
conquer sci-fi as token black Mace in another of those interminably cheesy Star Wars prequels.
Our brother's ability to channel the Force is unsubtly diminished.
"This party's over."
Then, he's spymaster Augustus Gibbons, awkwardly shoehorned into secret agent caper
XXX. Reunited with
John Travolta for Basic,
Jackson forgets that (as a former Jedi knight) he's a peacekeeper not a soldier, and the
buddy-movie chemistry fails, dismally, to re-ignite. As mindless automaton Hondo in lamentably
the brain-rot is firmly established, and it's all over bar the shouting.
Now, he's become a sorry listless caricature of his former greatness. Jackson simply rambled
meaninglessly through charmless voice roles, from
The Incredibles, to
the likes of Farce Of The Penguins (2007). So what about the 'squirm' factor in Snakes
On A Plane (from herewith SOAP, and not to be confused with the Mallachi brothers'
fantasy-actioner, Snakes On A Train, 2006)? Surely two phobias for the price of one
delivers the schlock goodies? What James Gunn's obvious B-movie, Slither got right, almost
perfectly, the cold-blooded SOAP fluffs badly, and so bad that it really hurts. It's
painful to watch a favourite actor self-destruct in such spectacular fashion. Since he publicly
lambasted rap star types for trying acting, he seems to have thought 'why should I bother working
hard when no-talent bluffers can get headline jobs, so damn easily?'
"I was a Drell. I was a Drifter. I was a
Coaster. I was part of The Gang." - RUFUS
Jackson's federal agent Neville Flynn in SOAP is a feeble-minded rendition of a one-note
hero. When he uses strong language it's just become embarrassing! Watching this useless waste
of a promising supporting cast (Julianna Margulies, Lin Shaye, Bruce James, and Sunny Mabrey do
what they can with underwritten roles as flight attendants, but they fail - unhappily let down
by farcically amateurish direction by David R. Ellis, who previously showed limited promise with
Final Destination 2
viewers transform into mourners. Jackson's hopelessly vague and blank-minded 'professional'
trouble-shooter Flynn seems like a victim of the pod people. What's happened to the real Sam
Jackson? Is there a doctor on the plane? Can he manage a DNA test on the leading man, please?
Oh no, it's too late. He's really gone. Poisoned by SOAP.
The rumours have been confirmed. Our worst fears realised. It's time for Jackson's fans to adopt
a mood of sober reflection on the notable successes of their idol's film acting career after a
reasonably good innings. After all, 'dying' on screen at the age of 58 is hardly uncommon for
busy actors, especially in the 'pressure cooker' work environment of today's Hollywood. This man's
talent had clearly been ill for some time. As we inter the spirit of our brother, the unfortunate
SOAP movie star; now, let us pray...
DVD extras: commentary track by director Ellis, star Jackson, two of the producers, and some
tech crew. Deleted scenes with optional director's commentary, a rather pointless batch of skimpy
and skim-worthy featurettes on the reptiles, visual effects and other, even less interesting,
stuff. There's also a gag reel, TV spots and trailers, and a departure lounge music video by