Snakes on a Plane Review

Born from the flames of Internet culture, Snakes on Plane exists because various online communities wanted it. Once word was out that New Line was seriously considering the concept, the internet exploded with possibilities, the studio decided to take advantage of the situation, and also listened to those random bloggers.

What came from their decision is an undeniably classic movie line, created for a parody video which took on a life of its own. It is a line that could only be spoken by Samuel L. Jackson in full R-rated mode, and without it, it would be hard to gauge if anyone would even remember this brief, flash-in-the-pan creature feature.

By biting on the hype, New Line probably expected numbers at the box office. Unfortunately, aside from those goofy, fun-loving internet types, no one really cared.

It is not hard to see through Snakes on a Plane, a movie that reviews itself on title alone. Stock characters, all of whom determine their order of death by personality, spout off increasingly inane dialogue as feeble computer generated snakes start latching onto naughty bits. If you don’t get the joke, and you take on the usual American movie-goers expectation of hyper-realism and perfect visual effects, you’re at a loss.

Then again, one could also question why you even thought to attend a movie with the campy, ridiculous title of Snakes on a Plane in the first place. If you can’t appreciate watching Jackson have fun as Neville Flynn, the mindset going in is amiss.

This is a terrible film, and not just on the level of visual effects. Snakes on a Plane never finds the proper tonal balance, switching between full one-liner mode and drama as children are bitten. Had the script chosen a proper direction (comedy specifically), Snakes on a Plane could have been something. Instead, it is an attempt to create camp, and that never works as intended.

Movie ★★★☆☆ 

New Line delivers Snakes on a Plane to Blu-ray in a usually sharp, bright, and saturated VC-1 encode. Colors contain plenty of pop. Look at the stewardess uniforms, a cold, sharp shade of blue that is particularly striking. Flesh tones are accurate and not overblown or saturated.

Opening shots of islands are well defined, with a clean, crisp look that is hampered slightly by some artifacting. On the plane, things remain firm. Detail is generally impressive, from facial textures in close-ups to backgrounds such as the stitching on the seats. Mid-range shots tend to lack that same refinement, although they remain firm and sharp.

As the lights go dim, this effort remains consistent. Black levels, despite some minimal crush, are always deep. Sam Jackson’s increasingly sweaty face is intricately defined, individual pores always evident. Smoke is handled without trouble. Mild noise is notable, usually pushed off to a side of the screen and unobtrusive. Grain is intact, and only minor edge enhancement is noted.

Video ★★★★☆ 

For much of the running time, this uncompressed TrueHD mix is somewhat light. Aggressiveness in the surrounds and subwoofer is disappointing, with plenty of shots from outside the plane that fail to capture the power of the engines. Light ambiance from a growing storm outside, which oddly never becomes significant to the plot, is mild at best. Even thunder sounds subdued. A bit of gunfire early packs a bit of punch, but little that stands out.

Panic inside the cabin as the snakes begin their assault, filled with screams and people scattering about, doesn’t fill the room as expected. Separated fronts capture the chaos along with a forgettable Trevor Rabin score behind it.

The audio seems to be saving its best for last, with a wild finale after the plane’s hull is breached. Objects begin swirling around the soundfield with wonderful ferocity, and the escaping air catches the subwoofer with a deep, satisfying rumble. A few heavy jolts as the plane begins to experience some turbulence are likewise handled well.

One problem to note is an intense series of pops in the audio as a helicopter lands at 1:34:58. It is definitely not part of the original audio. This seems to be a technical glitch, but it does pass quickly.

Audio ★★★★☆ 

A crowded commentary kicks off the extras, featuring director David R. Ellis, Samuel L. Jackson, producer Craig Berenson, assistant producer Towny Ellis, visual effects supervisor Erik Henry, and second unit director Freddie Hice. Pure Venom is a basic EPK making-of, with a running time of 18 minutes. Meet the Reptiles focuses on the snakes, while a lively visual effects featurette goes through the entire process of creating the digital snakes.

Snakes on a Blog looks at the origins of the internet fandom. A music video followed by the making of that same video is joined by a string of 10 deleted scenes with an optional commentary. A short gag reel and some trailers, and the extras menu is depleted.

Extras ★★★☆☆ 

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