Snakes on a Plane (2006)
|Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Horror / Thriller|
|New Line || R - 105 minutes - $29.98 || January 2, 2007|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2007-01-05|
Writer(s): John Hefferman and Sebastian Gutierrez (screenplay), David Dalessandro and John Hefferman (story)
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Julianne Margulies, Nathan Phillips, Daniel Blanchard, Flex Alexander, Kenan Thompson
Theatrical Release Date: August 18, 2006
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New Line’s Snakes on a Plane was the first movie to rely primarily on an Internet campaign to promote its movie after several sites cropped up when news came out. Soon enough you couldn’t come across a forum or movie news website that didn’t talk about SoaP and, when the release date came closer, even television news programs were talking (though mainly about the Net fever). Well, while the hype was there, apparently nobody outside some hardcore fanboys went to see Snakes on opening weekend where it debuted with a disappointing $12 million.
Strange thing about the Net is that if you browse it enough you actually start to believe that because something is talked about so much that it also translates to what people were talking about around the water cooler at work, and I am one of those who bought into it. The reason it didn’t do well was because although the title is certainly original and tells you everything about the movie, well, the title tells you everything about the movie... I never was big on Snakes in the first place so I skipped it in theaters but decided to reserve a coveted space on my Netflix queue and see if it was worth the hype. Two-word answer: It wasn’t.
Snakes on a Plane does succeed in it’s promise that is it indeed a thin premise and at times this snake-fearing critic jumped twice, but I couldn’t get over how the other 100-minutes reminded me of a bad made-for-SciFi movie. I can see why Samuel L. Jackson took the part but outside of those scares and an overly prominent “motherfucking snakes” line, it seemed like Snakes on a Plane took itself way too seriously rather than do a little wink and nod toward the audience that you’re watching a bad B-movie.
I guess this is something more the fault of director David R. Ellis (Final Destination 2, Cellular) but why not give it that B-movie horror feel a la Army of Darkness? Yeah, it delivers on the title and yet doesn’t on a great experience.
Since Snakes did do its job on scaring the crap out of me at times, I cannot say it is a complete waste of time but I have a hard time recommending something solely based on its title. That old adage of “Don’t based a book on its title” I think applies here as the title cannot mask that what’s inside is still a semi-crappy flick. No, the Snakes on a Plane title is merely a gimmick concocted by some Internet fanboys and embraced by New Line. If this had been called anything else, it would’ve been in and out of the theaters (or went direct-to-video) and even less people would’ve cared.
New Line gives those fans a good set of features to dig through:
Feature Commentary - Various members involved with the film including star Sam Jackson, producer Craig Berenson, associate producer Tawny Ellis, the VFX supervisor, and 2nd unit director join Director Ellis in a lively and informative commentary track. They each get a voice in on their experience and how the movie came to be (after director Ronny Yu dropped out or was fired).
Deleted/Extended Scenes (12:12) - 10 deleted or extended scenes are included but offer little else that isn’t already in the movie. Surprised and pleased that New Line didn’t just add these back in to give the movie an “unrated” rating.
Documentaries - There are four documentaries covering each aspect of the filmmaking:
First, “Pure Vision - The Making of Snakes on a Plane” is an all-encompassing feature that goes through the shooting process from sketch art to hydraulics to the snakes themselves. Like the movie, however, I think they take this too seriously as well with talk of certain snakes having personalities or, in one case, an actress didn’t want to become too comfortable with the snakes as so to keep the tension or fear. (17:37)
“Meet the Reptiles” gives a technical glimpse at each species used in the movie and features interviews with the snake wrangler and the technical aspects of mixing snakes with the actors. (12:30)
“VFX Featurette” shows off the visual effects portion of creating snakes to do the killing or other stunt work. Standard stuff but the VFX junky might find it entertaining enough. (4:55)
“Snakes on a Blog” shows how big Snakes on a Plane on the Net and features interviews with bloggers and others who were instrumental to publicizing the picture using the blogs and fan-made artwork. (9:35)
Rounding out the special features is a gag reel (4:40), music video and a few trailers and TV Spots.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
Snakes on a Plane is presented in anamorphic widescreen, 2.35 OAR and looks very crisp with some interesting rich colors coming across the small screen. Nothing outstanding about it by any means and given it is a recent release, I expect nothing short of perfection.
As with most New Line releases, you’re given the choice between the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 mix or the superior DTS-ES 6.1 track. Either way, you’ll hear the hissing in your living room followed by screams that, if you crank it up enough, will concern your neighbors.
Snakes on a Plane certainly delivers on the obvious title and outside of a scare or two, nothing really works in this B-movie wannabe. The film takes itself a bit too seriously and if it weren’t for the title, the movie would have been lost in obscurity and chalked up as another Samuel L. Jackson failure. Instead, I’m sure the vocal minority who adore the movie, giving it high marks even before anyone saw it, will keep it alive on the Net, but I doubt anyone else will care.