If you want good action, nudity, and some grossing out this movie is for you!
Overall, this film seemed like it was trying too hard to be a cult classic.
The title Snakes on a Plane tells you right away what you're getting yourself into. This film follows Neville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson), a kickass FBI agent who is given the job of escorting Sean Jones (Nathan Phillips) to California so he can testify against mobster Eddie Kim (Byron Lawson). Jones witnessed a mafia hit and now his life is very much in danger. Well, Kim doesn't want want him to testify but he can't get near him. So he does the next best thing by having some of his people on the inside of an airline, store poisonous snakes on board the plane that Jones and Flynn are taking to California.
Well, once the plane is in the air, a timer goes off and unleashes holy hell on the passengers. Eventually, it becomes Flynn's job to calm everyone on the plane, make sure that they are safe, and continue to keep Jones out of danger. As they are now flying around on a death tube, Snakes on a Plane quickly goes from being serious, to comic, to eventually surreal. While I think this movie might have worked better had it not hyped itself as a piece of unabashed entertainment, ultimately, I think it's primary audience will be well served.
I listened to director David Ellis and Samuel L. Jackson talk about this film. I hate to say it but I think these guys are on another planet in terms of what they've created. Don't get me wrong, it's not like they think that they've made some cultish masterpiece, but it seems like these guys feel that they have made a good film. Not like they have made something that is strictly fun, but that they have somehow pushed the envelope within the language of film. Listen for yourself, I sadly couldn't bring myself to make it all the way through this track.
There are a bunch of deleted scenes here with an optional commentary track from director David Ellis. I decided to watch this section with the commentary off. This isn't the kind of footage that can be marred by someone talking in your ear, I just figured I'd already heard enough from the director in the commentary. These scenes are a nice assortment that were probably omitted for time reasons. At 106 minutes, I felt that this movie could have been edited down a little further. These scenes play with a somewhat superfluous nature, but they are definitely worth a look if you are a fan of this film.
Four featurettes are offered here and since they seem like they all could have been edited together into one piece, I decided to group them that way. The featurettes are:
- Pure Venom: The Making of Snakes on a Plane" Featurette
- Snakes on a Blog" Featurette
- "Meet the Reptiles" Featurette
- "Snakes on a Plane VFX" Featurette
Pure Venom: The Making of Snakes on a Plane" Featurette is an almost 20 minute look at the making of this film. We hear from the directors, actors, and other crew members as they discuss working on this film. Nothing too special is illuminated but I do give the creators points for going in-depth here. The Snakes on a Blog" Featurette chronicles the online hype that (I think) ultimately led to this film's unreachable expectations. Lets be honest, good or bad, there was no way this film could be both.
Lastly, "Meet the Reptiles" Featurette takes a look at the real life snakes that inhabit this plane. One thing this featurette points out, to anybody who is interested in these creatures, is the fact that once you get to know them, snakes make for pretty agreeable pets. The "Snakes on a Plane VFX" Featurette, takes things a step further as this short featurette sheds some light on the real snakes fake counterparts.
Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1. Having seen this film on the big screen and now on DVD, I can honestly say that this movie may have been better served just going straight to video. There is something about it that seems to cater to that audience. The overall look and compression on this disc was solid, and the images seemed to really hold up as they moved from one medium to the other. David Ellis has a way of composing his shots so that they feel "in your face," however they aren't as overt as the kind of images that a Tony Scott creates.
English - Dolby Digital 5.1 - Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround. The audio on this DVD was sharp. However, I always got the feeling that Samuel L. Jackson's screaming about "these mutherf*&king snakes on this mutherf*&king plane" rang a bit false. Aside from that, this movie, once it gets going and the snakes are doing their thing, really paces itself well. There is very little downtime and the downtime that there is is utilized to give audience members time to breathe. Overall, a the sound work on this disc is highly on par with the images.
The iconic image of the snakes wrapping themselves around on a plane is again utilized on this front cover. Depending on how you look at it, one could see the fiery, orange background as possibly this flight descending into hell or the sun. The back cover gives us some images to peruse, it offers up a description of this film, a Special Features listing, a cast list, and system specs. All in all, this is a very respectable release for a film that seems to have overcome (or at least gotten past) it's own hype.
I knew that this film was going for it when one of the snakes bit a girl on the breast. While I think this movie may have had a chance to be a lot better than it was, I really feel like Snakes on a Plane did itself a disservice by trying to be a piece of camp. It seems like the studio took people talking about the film online, and somehow felt that this movie had transcended the zeitgeist. That maybe a studio had finally figured out the formula for making a cult classic, when at the end of the day, all they really had was a mishmash of scenes trying to be something that the movie wasn't.
Also, there had been talk (I actually read this in a press release at Comic-Con) that the film's title, Snakes on a Plane, was some sort of catchphrase (like "c'est la vie"). Well, I don't know who these marketers seemed to think they were fooling, but I was at Comic-Con that year and I keep my ear to the ground as far as the entertainment industry is concerned, and I never heard anybody come close to using that title as a phrase for anything other than a $30 million dollar movie masquerading as a cult film.
Snakes on a Plane isn't awful it just isn't good enough to be bad nor bad enough to be a good film.
Snakes on a Plane was released August 6, 2006.