A few years ago the only buzz you would hear about online would be for a film called Snakes on a Plane. It was a ridiculous title with a SyFy network original movie storyline that, for all intents and purposes, no one would have batted an eyelash at. But along came Samuel L. Jackson as the star and suddenly it was “the” film to talk about and go see. What should have been a low budget film resulted in being a $33 million dollar production…a cost it barely recouped in theaters. Domestically it pulled in $34 million and overseas another $28. Not bad numbers for a film that was largely produced due to internet hype.
A red-eye 747 flight out of Hawaii swooshes along at 30,000 feet toward L.A. Suddenly, there’s no pilot. Later, there’s no co-pilot. There are, however, snakes – hissing, slithering, attacking, venomous snakes. A crime boss has subverted security and planted the reptiles in order to bring the plane down, along with a witness slated to testify against the mobster in L.A. Can the FBI agent (Samuel L. Jackson) guarding the witness rally what’s left of the crew and passengers for a reptilian rumble in the jumbo? Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy fight.
After this film internet hype wasn’t taken quite as seriously again by studios, but that hasn’t stopped viral marketing from infesting every crevice of the series of tubes. It wasn’t even that Snakes on a Plane was even worse than one imagined it to be (in some ways it was actually rather good)…it just didn’t have the support that the internet was building it up to be. Then again this is the same group of users who download and pirate movies, so maybe the Snakes audience was massive…some of them just weren’t paying.
But…this films time has already come and gone, so why dwell on why it didn’t work? What did work was the cast. It had all the prerequisite groups: elderly, minority, annoying, wholesome, parents, children, and generic. Yes the full spectrum was covered here, from the old flight attendant to the children flying solo. Of course you can pinpoint who will die pretty easily in the film as it doesn’t break away from the stereotypically gruesome deaths (there’s even a death where a snake latches onto a breast and another scene shortly later where a snake clamps down on a penis). But at least you can say they’re slightly original…I mean how often do you see a giant python ingest an entire man?
Of course there are issues with the story as once everyone lands how do they know which antivenom to give? Sure the kids are covered thanks to the older brother drawing a picture of the snake, but what about the other passengers? We don’t worry about that though as our heroes are all alive and getting dates with some women they met on the plane. Excellent! Yes, the films shallow but did you really expect anything less than a film with this title?
I will admit that while the film itself didn’t disturb or scare me in any way, it did get me with a good jump sequence. When Julianna Margulies was looking into the electrical area for the pilot, the camera was oriented in such a way that it seemed to look away from the hole, rather than down it. Of course a snake then jumped out, which caused the singular jump for me, but other than that most of the film was just laughs at the absurdity of it all.
But then there was the infamous line from the film. The one that Samuel L. Jackson pretty much signed on to do the film for. I won’t repeat it here as it’s universally known at this point but…wow. Did that line come out odd or was it just me? I’ve seen clips of it online and whatnot, but the placement of it within the film just doesn’t make much sense. Jackson’s character is a fairly gentle guy throughout the film then he just belts out a pair of swears when it was rather uncalled for. Granted this film would’ve been even duller without this line to back it up…but overall? The line just felt strange in its placement.
Overall Snakes on a Plane isn’t a bad film so much as a mediocre one. It definitely has some fair production values (bad CGI snakes aside), but there isn’t much that sits with you after seeing the film. Besides, it’s the type of film that is better served as something you tune in for a bit on TV. Hearing Jackson’s replacement for the famous phrase is almost worth sitting through the commercials. Rent It if you haven’t seen it yet.
Warner has released what is basically a carbon copy of the DVD release…but with Blu-ray visuals and audio. This is to be expected…I mean the film doesn’t exactly scream a need for better special features. As is it arrives in a standard Elite Blu-ray case with an insert denoting the importance of firmware updates. Menus are a simple single splash, as there is no forced menu (film auto starts). Video arrives in a VC-1 encoded 1080p transfer that, as can be expected from a 3 year old film, looks damn fine. High detail, decent colors (what few colors there are, anyway—it’s a pretty dark film most of the time) and a surprisingly lushly colored opening. Audio is a TrueHD 5.1 mix that has a fair amount of surround and LFE output, but nothing to really blow one away.
• Commentary by Samuel L. Jackson, Director David R. Ellis and Producer Craig Berenson, Associate Producer Tawny Ellis, VFX Supervisor Erik Henry and 2nd Unit Director Freddie Hice
• Blooper Reel (4:41, SD)
• Deleted Scenes (11:51, SD) w/ optional commentary by Director David R. Ellis, Associate Producer Tawny Ellis and Producer Craig Berenson
• Cobra Starship Snakes on a Plane (Bring It) Music Video (3:18, 1080p), Including Behind-the-Scenes (8:57, SD)
• Pure Venom: The Making of Snakes on a Plane (18:06, 1080i)
• Meet the Reptiles (12:59, SD)
• Visual Effects (5:21, SD)
• Snakes on a Blog (10:07, 1080i)
• Theatrical Trailers (3:29, SD) & TV Spots (2:41, SD)
A pretty solid roster of extras, as you can see. Commentary is worth a listen if just for Jackson’s comments, and the rest of the sequences are pretty throwaway (especially that blooper reel).
Overall if you own the DVD already then there’s no reason to check this out. If you don’t own it already, however, then give it a Rental.
Snakes on a Plane is now available on Blu-ray.