The snakes are finally out of the bag. And wouldn’t you know it: They’re pretty hissworthy. You may feel a little dirty emerging from the theater into the cold, hypeless light of day. The beauty of Snakes’ unprecedented viral Internet campaign wasn’t in convincing us that the film would be any good, but in convincing us of the exact opposite: the flick would be all kinds of stupid, and that’s really what we wanted, isn’t it?
Not really. There’s a big difference between dopey, high-concept brilliance—technically astounding films like Speed or Die Hard—and this one, which requires us to ignore so much shoddiness. A dreadfully long preamble to the snake-on-snake action includes a violent Chinese gangster, a motocrossing doofus (Phillips) who witnesses a murder, a Honolulu cop (Jackson) who convinces the doofus to testify in Los Angeles and the tedious trotting out of every single character type imaginable: nervous, sweaty passenger; small boys traveling alone; snobby foreigner; tough-as-nails flight attendant (Margulies).
Bring on the muthafucking snakes already! Yes, Jackson flips out, and crowds will roar at the line. But the CGI snakes exist in a completely unbelievable realm, and never truly frighten. They also seem to favor exposed genitals, bare breasts and, occasionally, necks. Naturally, there are jokes about sucking out poison. So debasing is the film’s trashy conception of coach-class travel that the snakes quickly suggest more personality than the humans. If that’s the point, then welcome to the year’s most hateful film. (Now playing; Click here for venues.) — Joshua Rothkopf