Snakes on a Plane (2006)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 28-Dec-2006

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Gag Reel
Deleted Scenes-Extended Scenes
Featurette-Making Of
Featurette-Meet The Reptiles
Featurette-Visual Effects, Snakes On A Blog
Audio Commentary
Teaser Trailer
Theatrical Trailer-Unleashed, Phobia
TV Spots
Music Video
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2006
Running Time 101:17 (Case: 105)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (21:14) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By David R. Ellis
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Samuel L. Jackson
Nathan Phillips
Julianna Margulies
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Trevor Rabin


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (448Kb/s)
English dts 6.1 ES Discrete (768Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Has any film title ever pre-sold a movie better than Snakes On A Plane? Fun, vivid, catchy, and refreshingly blunt - a title that does the film distributor's marketing work for them, and virtually guarantees box office success. Snakes On A Plane is one of 2006's guilty pleasures. It is certainly cathartic fun to combine the twin fears of flying and of snakes. While we are continually warned about the dangers of carrying aerosols or "electronic devices" onto a plane, this movie graphically illustrates that snakes on a plane can ruin your flight in many, many horrible ways. Cheesy? Yes - it's so bad it's gouda!

    The story opens in Hawaii, where an easy-going surfer dude, Sean Jones (Australian Nathan Phillips of Wolf Creek), inadvertently witnesses the very brutal murder of a District Attorney by the infamously cruel Hawaiian crime lord Eddie Kim (Byron Lawson).

    FBI super-agent Neville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson) must safely escort Sean from Honolulu to Los Angeles to testify against the evil Eddie Kim.

    However, this crime lord has enough contacts in airport operations, security, and the airlines to smuggle aboard hundreds of boxed-up poisonous snakes into the plane's cargo hold. Their release from the boxes has been perfectly timed to occur at the midway point between Hawaii and the US mainland. When the moment is right, these deadly reptiles burst from their hiding place and, having been soaked with pheromones earlier, ferociously attack anything and everything in their path relentlessly.

    And what is being served up on their in-flight menu? In the time-honoured tradition of 1970s disaster movies, we watch the array of passengers embark, and try to pick out the potential victims.
Indeed, the most exposition there is in this movie involves lining up these characters like guest stars on The Love Boat. There's a mother with a baby (surely they have to survive?) and a hot Paris Hilton-like girl, Mercedes Harbont (Rachel Blanchard), complete with a spoiled little Chihuahua named Mary Kate (that dog is sooo eaten). A P-Diddy-esque Hip Hop Star, Three G's (Flex Alexander), is aboard with Troy McDaniel (Kenan Thompson) and Big LeRoy DuBois (Keith Blackman Dallas), his overweight bodyguards (Hmmm, they could go either way). There's also a horny young couple that can't wait to join the Mile High Club, a tipsy old lady, a guy who hates to fly, a guy who hates other people who fly, and two cute kids travelling alone for the first time. I'm sure the rich and bossy English businessman who hates Americans had "eat me first" stamped on his forehead. Oh, by the way, did I mention the electrical storm outside and the death of a pilot? Cue the disaster music and some lightning.

    However, surely the sharp-tongued Flight Attendant Claire Miller (Julianna Margulies of ER), in the noble tradition of Karen Black in Airport 1975, will team with Jackson to save the day? But with a film like this - essentially a B-Grade movie made with an A-Grade budget - the real question is: 'does the film deliver on its promise?'. The answer, in this case, is yes, dammit, yes! There most certainly are plenty of snakes on this plane, ranging from enormous, fat pythons, to tiny vipers and adders with dripping fangs. And with a passenger list of nobodies serving as in-flight snacks, the snakes waste no time in their give-the-people-what-they-want mission, with a crudeness so single-minded, it's positively gleeful.

    Indeed, there's something refreshingly venal about a movie with no purpose other than to meet gratuitous intentions this cheesy. But viewers can feel they've gotten exactly what they paid to see with this DVD. When the snakes are unleashed, the action is fast and furious, with unrelenting and horribly imaginative attacks. We have snakes jabbing through eye sockets. Snakes dropping into the Mile High Club. Snakes wriggling underneath muumuus, and one particularly nasty critter that gives new meaning to the term "trouser snake". At one point, an enormous python even tries to swallow a large man. Indeed, there are a number of great visual moments here, as when the plane's oxygen masks pop out of their panels unexpectedly and dozens of slithery reptiles drop down with them. You'll certainly never complain about those in-flight meals, airport taxes, or late arrivals again. Things could be so much worse.

    Trevor Rabin's music cues and Howard E. Smith's editing never miss a beat, while resourceful cinematographer Adam Greenberg just loves big close-ups of snake heads, especially as they strike or lunge toward camera. The greenish snake point-of-view shots of their human targets are a nice touch, too.

    Snakes On A Plane really earns its R rating with abundant, graphic, and utterly gratuitous nudity, gross-out humour, and gore. Indeed, one of the most perverse scenes involves a baby, a rattle, and a hissing snake - say no more.

    Following the initial ferocious attack, Agent Flynn (in a take-charge performance by Jackson) gets all the remaining passengers to move to the front of the plane. They then team up to create a temporary barrier between them and the snakes by piling up their carry-on luggage.

    In the lead role, Jackson is terrific. As an FBI agent whose job it is (as he coolly reminds us at regular intervals) to "handle life-and-death situations on a daily basis", he prowls through this movie, delivering the most ridiculous lines with such cranked-up seriousness that you can't help laughing. Indeed, Jackson embodies the spirit of the movie that we all want to see.

    Director David R. Ellis (of
Cellular), and writers John Heffernan and Sebastian Gutierrez (adapting a story by David Dalessandro and Heffernan), don't waste any time with unnecessary plot exposition or character development. Sean sees Eddie Kim murder a District Attorney. Cue the next scene and Kim's gang have identified and found Sean. How? No idea - it's not important. Luckily, FBI agent Flynn shows up in the nick of time to save him. How? No idea - it's not important. After all, that exposition would have just gotten in the way of what the audience really wants to see. Indeed, the first snake sighting happens just over 20 minutes into the movie. Ellis is far from being Alfred Hitchcock - he's often pretty messy in his staging - but as his rollercoaster-ride movie rattles along it's thrill-a-minute flight plan, Ellis does manage to induce a certain amnesia about it's preposterous premise.

    Snakes On A Plane is also replete with great movie one-liners, although it's not clear if the writing credit should go to the scriptwriters or the many Internet contributors. For example, at one point a sleazy pilot explains that if snakes get into sensitive areas in the plane's circuitry, "this bird goes down faster than a Thai hooker". Meanwhile, a snake expert on the ground declares, "Time is tissue." And, of course, Jackson enjoys the already famous line (written for the film by a fan on the internet); "I have had enough of these motherf**kin' snakes on this motherf**kin' plane!".

    I'm sure everyone was hoping Snakes On A Plane would be a truly great B movie - one that would free us from having to worry about the story, and allow us to concentrate solely on dumb thrills and laughs. But it takes a degree of skill to make a truly great B movie - one that stands up to repeated viewings, and Snakes On A Plane never allows itself to be totally dumb - it's far too self-aware. Indeed, at times the movie feels like a marketing stunt, an exercise - it's winking and knowing every minute. This is a self-parody of a concept that's essentially beyond parody - a joke we're all in on to the point where it really doesn't matter whether we've seen the movie at all. Camp still has its place, but Snakes On A Plane is a little too bland and calculated, in a marketing-is-all manner, which is what you might expect from a movie that has been shaped around its marketing campaign from the very beginning. All the boo-scares and gross-out black humour at times seems a little too staged.

    However, those with low or no expectations - much like the characters in the movie who assumed there were no snakes on their plane - will be delighted. Snakes On A Plane wears its B movie shamelessness (its most winning feature and sellable commodity) with pride. From a dozen straight-to-video thrillers, it swipes the old setup, with the dogged FBI agent transporting a witness in protective custody, and then places that story in a classic 1970s disaster-movie setup.

    Many filmmakers, with a sense of embarrassment, might try to downplay the obviousness of the cardboard-cut-out, stock characters, but not so Ellis. A veteran Second-Unit Director, Ellis chooses to emphasise their phoniness to the point of the ridiculous - even draping them with snake-pheromone-soaked leis. Even though Snakes On A Plane won't become an all-time B movie cult-classic, there's no doubting this movie's commitment to its own schlockiness. It's certainly not a slick studio vehicle, with just a few campy nods to old-fashioned B movies.

    Furthermore, if you believe the hype from New Line, the studio releasing it, Snakes On A Plane ("SoaP" to the internet faithful) is a movie of the people, by the people, and for the people. Apparently, once Web geeks heard that irresistible title, even before cameras were rolling they began creating their own posters, scripts, cartoons, comic books, and emailing New Line their ideas. Indeed, the project built up a huge fan base on the internet, some of whom were so faithful, they even got Snakes On A Plane tattoos. To New Line's credit, they bathed in the blog-driven rush of publicity from the fans, listened and obeyed. Instead of making a safe, cheesy PG-13 film, which at one point was to be renamed Pacific Air Flight 121, they gave the fans what they wanted - the cheesy, R-rated horror-thon, Snakes On A Plane.

    It seems that it's not just the geeks on the internet who got excited by the title. In the DVD's audio commentary it is revealed Jackson emailed the Producers, asking to star in the film without having seen the script - based on the title alone. Indeed a number of the cast and crew got involved in the project based solely on hearing the title, including actors such as Flex Alexander, and the three bands that grouped together to form Cobra Starship, which provides the film's title song "Snakes On A Plane (Bring It)".

    Snakes On A Plane is an enjoyable movie phenomenon that cannot be easily explained away, so enjoy it for what it is: a fun, tongue-in-cheek, horror-comedy film about rampaging poisonous snakes at 30,000 feet. For the movie's official website, check out www.snakesonaplane.com.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Snakes On A Plane has a great transfer, and the DVD looked fantastic both on my widescreen television, and when projected with a DLP.

    The widescreen transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness is excellent throughout. Consider for example the detail in one of the plane's control panels at 86:25. The black level is excellent, as is the shadow detail, as can be seen in the well defined images during the interior night shot at 20:35.

    The colour is also excellent throughout, and the film uses coloured lenses extensively to help create the various moods. The skin tones are accurate.

    While the image is a little grainy at times, there are no problems with MPEG, Film-To-Video, or Film Artefacts. Some minor edge enhancement is noticeable occasionally, but I never found it distracting.

    English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles are present. They are accurate.

    The film is presented on a single-sided, dual-layered disc, with the layer change occurring rather early at 21:14. The feature is divided into 19 chapters.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio is excellent, and a treat for home theatre buffs.

    The DVD offers the options of: English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (448Kb/s), English dts ES 6.1 (768Kb/s), English Dolby Digital Stereo Surround (192Kb/s), and English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s). I listened to both the Dolby Digital and dts tracks, and while both audio options make great use of your home theatre speakers, the dts track demonstrates a greater range, with a lot more presence in the bottom end. So use the dts track - your subwoofer will love you for it.

    The dialogue quality and audio sync are excellent on both the Dolby Digital and dts audio tracks.

    The musical score is credited to Trevor Rabin, who also scored films such as Con Air, Armageddon, and Enemy Of The State. The dramatic orchestral score suits the film well, and helps build the tension.

    The film's sound design is great, and it effectively provides an immersive surround sound experience. Although often quite subtle, the surround activity is often as unrelenting as the serpent action, and the rear speakers are used effectively to help carry the score, and to provide ambience, such as the helicopter at 77:56 or the rushing wind at 84:34. There is also some panning between the speakers, which is a nice touch.

    Although often not required, there is a decent LFE track, which is called upon from time-to-time, such as with the rumble of the plane's jet engines at 22:01.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are a number of genuine extras.

Menu

    Animated with audio.

Featurette - Gag Reel (4:29)

    Surprisingly presented in a widescreen transfer, in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

Deleted and Extended Scenes (12:14)

    Also presented in a widescreen transfer, in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced, there are 10 deleted or extended scenes, offered with an optional commentary with Director David R. Ellis, Associate Producer Tawny Ellis, and Producer Craig Berenson. On my review copy, only the commentary option was audible.

Waiting At The Gate (0:53)
Eddie Kim Spars (1:10)
Boarding (2:16)
Three G's And Mercedes (1:15)
Agent Flynn And Claire (1:20)
Longer Mrs. Bova Attack (1:49)
Music Video Talk (1:18)
Despair In The Cabin (0:41)
Water Crash Prep (0:44)
Flynn's Offer (0:45)

Documentaries

    Unless stated otherwise, all of these are presented with a widescreen transfer, in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital stereo audio. They feature interviews with the cast and crew, clips from the film, and plenty of behind-the-scenes footage:

Featurette - Pure Venom - Making Of (18:06)

    A look at how the idea for the film came about, and the challenges of making the film. A large part of this featurette is focused on the difficulties of wrangling hundreds of snakes on set without any of them, or people for that matter, getting hurt. There is also a look at the SFX, and the use of CGI snakes as well.

Featurette - Meet The Reptiles (12:59)

    Jules Sylvester, a Kenyan snake wrangler, introduces us to the real 'stars' of the film.

Featurette - Visual Effects (5:21)

    A quick look at the work of VFX Supervisors Scott Gordon, Erik Henry and their team of animators and modelers.

Featurette - Snakes On A Blog (10:06)

    A look at the "internet buzz about a film that hasn't been made". We meet some of the head-bloggers behind websites such as snakesonablog.com, which received over one million hits, and snakesonstuff.com.

Audio Commentary

    A screen-specific and chatty commentary provided by Director David R Ellis, Actor Samuel L Jackson, Producers Craig Berenson and Tawny Ellis, VFX Supervisor Erik Henry and Second Unit Director Freddie Hice. They all seem to have fun recording this commentary together and they provide a lot of trivia, anecdotes, and a few laughs.

Trailers

TV Spots

    Five TV trailers.

Music Video (3:44)

    Cobra Starship provide the film's title song "Snakes On A Plane (Bring It)". The video can be viewed with or without additional behind-the-scenes making-off footage (8:55).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Snakes On A Plane has been released on DVD in the USA (Region 1).

    Compared with the Region 1, the Region 4 DVD misses out on:

    The Region 1 DVD misses out on:

    I see no real reason to favour either version, but with all else being equal, I much prefer a PAL (Region 4) transfer.

Summary

    Snakes On A Plane delivers on its promise! My only question is: How come no one thought to do this movie in 3-D? See it if you enjoyed the recent Red Eye, Flightplan, or United 93. See it if you like seeing things go horribly wrong at 30,000 feet.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is also excellent.

    The extras are genuine.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using Component output
DisplaySamsung 106cm Plasma TV (42 Inch). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersJamo

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
misrated - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
Re: Misrated - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
Enjoyable review - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
re, re misrated - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
re re re Misrated - acassimaty REPLY POSTED
Re Re etc etc Misrated - wolfgirv