Thursday, June 08, 2006

The (I Suspect) Sad Saga of Snakes on a Plane

Snakes on a Plane has inspired at least two screenwriting blogs, one Alien Loes Predator comic, and God knows how much other internet bandwidth.

It even has its own Wikipedia article. You can see a trailer here. I'm not sure where you can find a clip of Samuel L. Jackson shouting "snakes on a mother-fucking plane!"

So the film is developing a nice little fan base before it's even released -- it seems mostly people who are already thinking that it's so bad that it's gonna be good.

And I'll definitely be seeing it too. But I'm going to engage in some expectation management.

In order for a film to be good via being bad, it must be earnest. The producers have reacted to the free publicity by shooting some new material, attempting to intentionally appeal to their prophetic fanbase. I read somewhere that they are even using things seen on the internet to aid in their re-writes, and probably re-edits.

Must be a rare joy to be the screenwriters that not only have to take notes from everyone involved in the production, but now also random people on the internet. At this rate, perhaps the big screen will finally see Kirk and Spock take it to the next level.

Worse for the film, since as soon as you try to be bad, you cease to be funny.

Camp is the the lazy filmmaker's humor. Everyone knows the tired cliches so everyone can intentionally write tired cliches -- then throw the actors on screen and have them smile really hard at the audience: "We know this joke is ancient, but, see, we're all just having fun here. Please smile back at us." At its very best, camp manages to be cute and successfully beg an indulgent smile from you.

I'm sure the original writers weren't striving for camp. Someone probably saw the metal detectors at the airport and thought to themselves that they'd never detect something that was organic and lethal -- like a snake -- so wouldn't a snake be a clever weapon to use?

And a little hook like this can be all you need to hang a film around. If the other bits like character and suspense work well, then the hook can intrigue people enough to come to the theater (or read the spec) and the material can entertain them enough to enjoy the movie.

But the problem is that even when there is some sense to an idea, sometimes just a hint of goofiness can undermine any chance at suspense or serious drama.

I still have hope though. A particularly zealous performance by Samuel L. Jackson could make this a fun film -- so long as he plays it straight.


Anonymous said...

didn't Jackson shout that at a Prodco meeting when trying to get the pitch across?

M. Scott Eiland said...

Steve, I'm not sure I want to know how you know where to find Star Trek slashfic--has your wife been corrupting you? :-)

Of course, if such a movie was made at this point it would probably be financed by the makers of Cialis and Viagra. ]:-)

Steve Peterson said...

Todd, I'm not sure if that quote is actually his, or something made up on the internet. His interviews are all on shows that don't allow him the full range of his vocabulary, ahem, so I couldn't find a video clip.

Scott, hopw can you not fall in love with the look of beatific happiness Spock has in his picture on that page I linked to??

Jaime_sama said...

Steve, did you know they are making a Star Trek prequel?

Hasn't this Starfleet Academy idea been floating around the fan base for about a billion years? I think the slash story might actually be next on their list.

M. Scott Eiland said...

Scott, hopw can you not fall in love with the look of beatific happiness Spock has in his picture on that page I linked to??

It's not a question of being offended by it, it's just that the rational side of my brain insists on reminding me that I know that the reason why Spock was happy in that photo was that Jim was alive, not that he was saying "Why yes, Jim! I would love for you to chain me naked to a bed and to go down on me while I recite Vulcan epic poetry! You're such a romantic!"* :-) Which is a good reason why fanfic should mostly be presented without photos (except generic ones)--it's too distracting otherwise. Original art works better if one can arrange to get it.

Besides, if being part of the online fanfic community has taught me anything in the last seven years, it's that Star Trek slashfic is practically quaint these days in relation to what else is out there. There are some things I've run across accidentally that I wish I could napalm out the inside of my skull to obliterate the memories of it--not just because of the pairings, but because the writing is so godawful.

*-- Purely made up slashfic dialogue, which may or may not exist elsewhere, though after all of these years, it's probably been written at least once before.

Steve Peterson said...

Yah, J'aime, I have seen bits about the next Star Trek. I like Abrams, so I'm confident it will be solid -- but Battlestar Galactica has ruined me on sci-fi with non-grungy sets.