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David R. Ellis
Samuel L. Jackson, Julianna Margulies, Nathan Phillips, Rachel Blanchard, Flex Alexander, Kenan Thompson, Keith Dallas, Lin Shaye, Bruce James, Sunny Mabrey
Writing Credits:
John Heffernan (and story), Sebastian Gutierrez, David Dalessandro

Sit back. Relax. Enjoy the fright.

An assassin lets a bunch of poisonous snakes loose on a passenger plane in an attempt to kill a witness being shepherded to Los Angeles from Hawaii by an FBI agent (Samuel L. Jackson).

Box Office:
$33 million.
Opening Weekend
$15.206 million on 3555 screens.
Domestic Gross
$34.014 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 2.40:1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 106 min.
Price: $28.99
Release Date: 9/29/2009

• Audio Commentary with Director David Ellis, Actor Samuel L. Jackson, Producer Craig Berenson, Associate Producer Tawny Ellis, VFX Supervisor Eric Henry and 2nd Unit Director Freddie Hice
• Deleted and Extended Scenes
• Gag Reel
• “Pure Venom: The Making of Snakes on a Plane” Documentary
• “Meet the Reptiles” Featurette
• VFX Featurette
• “Snakes on a Blog” Featurette
• Music Video
• 3 Trailers
• TV Spots
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Snakes On A Plane [Blu-Ray] (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 20, 2009)

With the summer 2006 theatrical of Snakes on a Plane, we discovered how much impact Internet buzz really had on box office grosses. As demonstrated here? Not a whole lot. Snakes generated quite a lot of advance hype as online nerds everywhere touted it, and this created much higher expectations than otherwise would have been the case for this goofy genre flick. Alas, the movie didn’t live up to the anticipated success, as Snakes raked in a relatively disappointing $34 million.

Because Snakes failed to match its hype, it may be seen as a failure. I think that’s a mistake, for the flick delivers what it promises. Not a cinematic classic by any stretch of the imagination, Snakes does at least muster the over the top thrills it needs.

Snakes starts in Hawaii, as Sean Jones (Nathan Phillips) witnesses a brutal murder committed by a notorious Mob boss named Eddie Kim (Byron Lawson). Federal agents bail out Sean and take him into protective custody. Led by Agent Neville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson), they plan to escort him from Hawaii to Los Angeles so he can testify against Kim.

Unfortunately for them, Kim doesn’t intend to sit back and take this without a fight. He schemes to sabotage the flight across the Pacific and does so with an unusual method: he orders his goons to stock the aircraft with scads of poisonous snakes. The flick follows the reptilian attack and how Flynn and the others on the flight deal with it.

It’s incredibly easy to groan and dismiss Snakes, as it really isn’t a particularly good movie. Tacky, cheesy and frequently obvious, it makes no pretenses about what it wants to be. Indeed, the film borders on camp at times, as it keeps its tongue clearly in cheek.

That makes it tough to criticize Snakes, though. How do you attack a silly genre flick that never intended to be anything more than that? You can try, but true criticism becomes absolutely pointless. The movie let us know up front what it planned to be, so why fight that?

The question becomes whether or not Snakes delivers any fun. I can’t slam it for its themes and campiness, but I could knock it if the flick failed to provide entertainment. While not a consistent delight, I must admit that I think Snakes offers fine mindless pleasure. This is the kind of movie that requires you to completely shut off your brain. If you don’t fully buy into its tone and aspirations, you’ll go nuts. Enter into it with appropriate expectations and simply fly along for the ride.

Note that Snakes isn’t for the squeamish. Of course, the premise alone will scare off folks with a fear of slithery reptiles, and the graphic nature of the production will put off others. The film embraces its genre with some pretty gross elements. It finds many creative ways for the snakes to attack, and these become disgusting. Enter into the proceedings at your own risk.

If that kind of flick is your cup of tea, Snakes on a Plane should entertain. The movie’s bizarre Internet hype elevated box office expectations, but in truth, its $34 million gross isn’t that inappropriate for this sort of movie. It’s not a film for everyone, but it’ll work for those who dig wacky action horror.

Cinematic connection alert: Snakes shows so many reflections of John Wayne’s 1954 flick The High and the Mighty that it becomes tough to believe they’re coincidental. Both offer air disasters that follow treks from Hawaii to California. The Snakes scene that sets up passengers and crew also strongly resembles a sibling sequence in Mighty. The fact a character even refers to another as feeling “high and mighty” reinforces my belief that Snakes pays homage to the Wayne movie.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus B

Snakes on a Plane appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. No significant issues arose during this fine transfer.

From start to finish, sharpness looked positive. Never did I notice any signs of softness or fuzziness. The movie came across as nicely detailed and well-defined at all times. Jagged edges and shimmering created no concerns, and I also saw no signs of edge enhancement. As one might expect from a modern movie, the film lacked source flaws. I didn’t detect any grit, specks, grain or other issues.

Snakes used a moderately stylized palette. The shots on the ground looked natural, but elements on the plane tended to feature blue-green tints. The colors worked fine for the presentation. The movie consistently demonstrated lively and vivid tones. Blacks also were rich and firm, while low-light shots looked smooth and concise. All in all, this was a solid image.

I felt the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack worked nicely. With all the action pieces, the movie presented a lot of nice opportunities for vivid audio, and it followed up on them well. Most of these stemmed from snakes and the plane, as those offered a lot of convincing movement and used all the speakers very well. Environmental elements also created a fine sense of place, and the entire track utilized the five channels to solid effect.

Audio quality also worked well. Speech sounded crisp and distinctive, with no signs of edginess or concerns connected to intelligibility. Music was bright and dynamic, as the mix replicated the score with good clarity. Effects also fared well. Those elements were lively and dynamic, and they showed no distortion or other problems. Bass response was very good. Low-end demonstrated tight, impressive tones. Overall, this was a solid soundtrack.

How did the picture and sound of this Blu-Ray compare with those of the original DVD? Though the DVD was good, the Blu-ray surpassed it in the usual ways. The lossless audio boasted a bit more oomph, and the visuals benefited from the Blu-ray format’s increased resolution levels to become tighter and more precise. The Blu-ray didn’t trounce the old DVD, but it provided a more satisfying presentation.

In terms of extras, we get the same components found on the DVD. We find an audio commentary with director David R. Ellis, actor Samuel L. Jackson, producer Craig Berenson, associate producer Tawny Ellis, VFX supervisor Eric Henry and 2nd unit director Freddie Hice. All sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. Recorded prior to the movie’s theatrical release, the track looks at the project’s development and how various folks came on board, stunts and action, various effects, the elaborate airplane set, cast and performances, budget and rating concerns, and the Internet buzz.

Though the commentary manages to provide a decent overview of the different production, it proves somewhat less than satisfying in the end. A surprising amount of dead air materializes, and the tone of the track becomes so jokey that the level of content declines. Though he’s been interesting in the past, Jackson proves obnoxious and grating, and the others seem more concerned with one-liners than actual information.

I also could live without the semi-self-congratulatory discussion of the Internet hype. That’s one problem with the time of the recording: since they taped this piece before the movie came out, the participants appear convinced it’ll be a huge hit, and the tone reflects this. It becomes tiresome to hear Ellis boast of all the alleged widespread Snakes mania. Overall, the commentary delivers some good info but it can be a bit of a chore to screen.

A Gag Reel lasts four minutes, 35 seconds. It shows goof ups from the set and a lot of joking. It’s pretty ordinary, though a few amusing bits emerge.

10 Deleted and Extended Scenes run a total of 12 minutes, 14 seconds. We find “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) and “Flynn’s Offer” (0:45). Most of these offer minor character additions. Mercedes/Three G’s fill a lot of the time, and we also find a fair amount more with the newlyweds. A smidgen of Claire’s backstory emerges as well. None of these add anything to the experience.

We can watch these with or without commentary from David Ellis, Tawny Ellis and Craig Berenson. They give us some background about each of the scenes and also let us know why they dropped the sequences. They offer some decent notes, though I could live without the continued jokey tone.

Next come some documentaries and featurettes. Pure Venom: The Making of Snakes on a Plane goes for 18 minutes, five seconds and provides the standard mix of movie snippets, behind the scenes shots and interviews. We hear from David Ellis, Jackson, Berenson, Henry, Hice, Tawny Ellis, writer John Heffernan, production designer Jaymes Hinkle, special effects supervisor Matt Kutcher, snake handler Jules Sylvester, and actors Julianna Margulies, Kenan Thompson, Rachel Blanchard, Elsa Pataky, Sunny Mabrey, Bruce James, Lin Shaye, Keith Dallas, Flex Alexander, and Nathan Phillips.

“Venom” looks at the movie’s concept and story, characters and actors, David Ellis’s impact on th set and other members of the crew, the airplane set, live and digital snakes, and various genre considerations. The program avoids much of the usual puffiness as it runs through the production. The show’s brevity means it doesn’t dig too deeply, but it offers a nice overview of matters.

For the 12-minute and 58-second Meet the Reptiles, we find notes from Jackson, Thompson, Berenson, Shaye, Sylvester, Heffernan, David Ellis, Mabrey, Alexander, Margulies, Dallas, snake handler Brad McDonald, and actor Bob Cannavalle. Sylvester dominates this piece as he talks of his interest in snakes, his career, and his work on the flick. We get specifics of shooting with the snakes and learn details about the various breeds of snake. This adds up to an informative and interesting view of the movie’s reptiles.

A VFX Featurette fills five minutes, 20 seconds with remarks from Henry, visual effects supervisor Scott Gordon, character animator Jason Thielen, lead modeler Steve Arguello, match-move supervisor Kevin Hoppe, software development supervisor Rob Tesdahl, lighting TD Manuel Guizar, and compositing supervisor Ed Mendez. Short but sweet, the featurette provides a solid little view of the different effects issues. We get a concise look at various techniques and technical concerns in this solid show.

Finally, Snakes on a Blog lasts 10 minutes, six seconds. It provides comments from Alexander, Phillips, writer David Dalessandro, snakesonstuff.com’s Bridget and Brian O’Neill, screenwriter Sebastian Gutierrez, comedian DCLugi, bloggers Rick Achberger, Eric Medalle and Michael G. Ryan, overcompensating.com’s Jeffrey J. Rowland, and snakesonablog.com’s Brian Finkelstein. They chat about the Internet buzz for the film and its impact. “Blog” neatly encapsulates this significant facet of the flick’s impact.

Some promotional elements finish the package. We get three trailers for Snakes plus five TV spots. We also find a Music Video for “Snakes on a Plane (Bring It)” from Cobra Starship. We can watch this on its own or along with behind the scenes elements. The latter choice lasts eight minutes, 55 seconds, while the video alone goes for three minutes, 44 seconds. The longer cut includes remarks from director Lex Halaby and musicians Travis McCoy, William Beckett, Gabe Saporta, and Maja Ivarsson. The documentary parts aren’t terribly memorable, but the tune itself is pretty catchy, and the video’s a fun twist on the genre. Happily, it includes no movie clips, and it even features some nice cameos.

While it didn’t turn out to be the hit some expected, Snakes on a Plane offers reasonable fun. No one will confuse it for great filmmaking, but it provides the expected level of cheesy entertainment. The Blu-ray presents excellent picture and audio as well as some reasonably good extras. This is a nice package for a goofy but enjoyable flick.

To rate this film visit the original review of SNAKES ON A PLANE

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main