Truth in advertising, a rarity these days. What sucks more than being lured into a horror film, and finding no scares? Or a comedy without laughter? An action flick without explosions, fire, and death around every corner? Why tease such elements in trailers and posters, and then deliver a boring cookie cutter ride that deviates far from what was promised? Why not be "in your face" honest, like the already legendary 'Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus?'
Cue: 'Snakes on a Plane.' You know what to expect walking into this one, and (thankfully) you get it. We're not teased with that title and given a film devoid of both snakes and planes (although that would be the most hilarious thing ever). When you plop down your hard earned cash to rent or buy this film, you're getting aircraft and serpents, with an emphasis on the slithery bastards that make my skin crawl.
When Sean Jones (Nathan Phillips) witnesses the murder of a local prosecutor by gang boss Eddie Kim (Byron Lawson), his life is next up on the mobster's list. But FBI agent Neville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson) has other plans for Jones, convincing him to testify against Kim to bring him down in Los Angeles. The heroic duo hop on a red eye flight (a plane), but unbeknownst to them, a crate full of snakes that have been agitated by pheromones has been put on the plane as well. All hell breaks loose over the Pacific, as passengers are forced to put aside their difference, band together, and square off against an army of various lethal snakes in a battle for survival. One thing is for sure, though. Flynn has "had it with these mother fucking snakes on this mother fucking plane!"
"They say the higher you aim, the farther you fall." 'Snakes on a Plane' was ripped to shreds from the moment the title was announced, with the direct approach the name takes causing quite a stir and triggering an obscene amount of trepidation over the quality of the film. Most hate towards this film comes from those who are judging this book by its cover, though. While 'Snakes' is hardly original, and is often predictable, this flight is an absolute roller coaster, catering to the most base of instincts.
Jackson has the kind of charisma and enthusiasm to carry this kind of title to cult status. His supporting cast is a motley crew of stereotypes, with ridiculously obvious fates based off their introductions. Is that guy a total prick? He's gonna get his, for sure! Their acting skills are in stark contrast to Jackson's, creating a surreal B-movie feel that only increases as the film progresses.
The tension in the film is constant, with the throng of slithering monsters acting as focused as an onslaught of the undead (which, ironically, star in one of the worst rip-offs of this film, 'Flight of the Living Dead'). The body count of passengers dwindles far faster than the snake population, and with limited weapons to fight back, the passengers have to try to avoid their tormentors rather than confront them, despite their presence around every corner and in every compartment.
'Snakes' lives by its R rating, as it opens the cheesy floodgates as wide as possible. More films should embrace this approach, reveling in the predicaments and their circumstances, rather than copping out to create PG-13 tales out of obvious R rated subject matter. Mile high club? You betcha. Filthy snake attacks? How else could we have the best credit in film history: "Man Bitten on Penis?!?"
My biggest (and only) complaint with the film? Why even bother to establish a story? Why not just throw the audience on the plane from the start?! It would have been insane! We don't need to establish the Hawaii story line, at all. It'd be perfect B-movie convention to just tell the tale through exposition on the flight! It takes a full twenty one minutes to get the plane in the air, and that's a lot of wasted time when we could have had snakes shoved in our face from the start.
With more dire circumstances than 'Snakes on a Train,' 'Plane' delivers on each and every promise made by the brilliant, succinct title. With one of the greatest lines in film history (including the epic television dub monkey fighting snakes on this Monday to Friday plane), carnage, non-stop fun, and infinite replay value, 'Snakes on a Plane' deserves a spot in each and every home video collection.
'Snakes on a Plane' has to be one of the most anticipated titles to ever hit Blu-ray, considering the large demographics for both snakes and planes, so, of course, anything less than sssss-uperb video would be a letdown (I promise, that will be the only hiss joke in this review). The VC-1 encode at 1080p is a slight disappointment, providing neither the best looking snakes nor planes in high-def.
From the beginning of the film, with establishing shots of Hawaii (as if leis weren't an indication), artifacting is present in sky shots. This issue gets far more serious later in the film, with shots establishing the plane flying in the dark sky that are riddled with compression artifacts and macroblocking, as are darker shots inside the snake infested plane. Is the fact that this title was crammed onto a BD25 instead of a BD50 to blame?
Colors are bold, and possibly one of the highlights of the film, save for the darker sequences caused by the power failures. Fine object detail is superb, from the early sequence with the dirtbike kicking up, well, dirt, to some very sharp shots of facial details. That said, there were some moments where DNR was seemingly applied heftily, freezing grain in place.
Whites are clean, and blacks extremely deep, save for those damn artifacts. Skin tones were fairly solid, but I noticed some orange in Jackson's face, as well as some severe yellow smudging in one of the flight attendant's mugs. Digital noise sometimes rears its ugly head, as does some edge enhancement, and a shot early on shows some bad outlines due to a green (or should I say purple) screen background.
This review would be for naught if I didn't talk about the appearance of the snakes. I was amazed at how amazingly detailed the real snakes in the film were, from the slime shimmering on their scales, to their sharp colors and fades, and a moment of absolutely beautiful iridescence. Fake snakes look exactly that, absolutely broke ass. The "snake vision" sequences have some artifacting in the blacks, but not so much in the greens, making this possibly the best night vision sequence I've seen.
New Line has provided a lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track as the default audio on 'Snakes on a Plane.' The packaging states that there is also a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix included, but I could not find it in the menu or audio toggle...not that it's a big loss, or anything...
Dialogue doesn't get drowned out in the film, but it's often just a hair too low for its own good. Rears get a bit of random ambiance, both in the terminal and on the plane, but it's not too convincing. When the plane passes the camera in some establishing shots (we have to be reminded we're on a plane), we get the best moments of motion in the entire film. Snakes slither through channels as well, though it's nowhere near as engrossing as it should be, as even lightning fails to truly bring it home, with some weak surround noise, and no real bass emphasis. There were a few moments of high pitched ringing on the flight, but that could easily be explained by the failing systems, so I can't hold that against the track, but I can judge it for the absolutely soft bass. We have freaking plane engines, yet no real rumble. When the shit hits the fan in the finale, we have an audio climax as well, with random activity coming from all angles, and the best bass of the entire film. For a track that is free from technical problems, I can't say I was impressed in the least.
Hate all you want, 'Snakes on a Plane' is a fun, occasionally funny ride through action and horror cliche that never misses a chance to stoop as low as imaginable. Sadly, I've had it with these mother fucking Blu-rays on a mother fucking BD25, jamming a healthy pile of extras into the mix, at the sacrifice of quality. Is this jam-job the reason the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix promised on the package isn't on the disc? Who knows. All I know is that, scary as it sounds, 'Snakes on a Plane' deserved better.