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SNAKES ON A PLANE

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Samuel L. Jackson, Julianna Margulies, Nathan Phillips, Flex Alexander, Kenan Thompson
Director:  David R. Ellis
Audio:  Dolby Digital EX 5.1, Dolby Surround, DTS 6.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio:  New Line
Features:  See Review
Length:  106 Minutes
Release Date:  January 2, 2007

“I am FED UP with these motherf**king snakes on this motherf**king plane!”

Film ***

Snakes on a Plane may have been the first movie to ride to success on an internet wave, but that wave peaked a little early…the box office numbers didn’t quite live up to expectations.  At first it was a case of “don’t believe the hype”, but now that I’ve finally seen the picture for myself, I can tell you don’t believe the hype about the hype.

The fact is, it’s a rather thrilling, mindless, suspenseful and gory piece of B grade entertainment…exactly what it claimed to be in the first pace.  It’s like a roller coaster ride…you don’t get on to exercise your mind, but your adrenal glands.

And it stars Samuel L. Jackson…that’s almost all that needs to be said.  He plays FBI agent Neville Flynn, who plans to escort murder witness Sean Jones (Phillips) from Honolulu to Los Angeles aboard a red eye flight so that he can testify against a notorious gangster.  But the gangster has other designs.

He loads a crate of snakes onto the plane (hence the title), and not just any snakes…vicious, poisonous brutes from all corners of the world, made even crazier by pheromones sprayed onto Hawaiian garlands.  When you see the snakes go after them, it gives a whole new meaning to ‘getting lei-ed’.

The snakes are not only a menace to the passengers, but the plane itself…by getting into the electrical systems, they threaten to bring the whole flight down ahead of schedule over the Pacific ocean.  Soon, Flynn is up to his eyeballs in trouble, trying not only to protect his witness and the other passengers, but to get the plane safely to the ground as well.  If his trek through the corridor filled with dangling wires and cables isn’t enough to get you on edge, you may have been bitten yourself.

Sure, it’s low on brainpower.  Sure, many of the shots of the snakes are bad CGI renderings that really call attention to themselves.  But come on…there are snakes, and they’re on a plane.  That’s truth in advertising.

Once it starts, it never lets up.  There are snake bites galore, in more and more gruesome and inventive ways…very high squirm factor here.  But the action, suspense and carefree attitude toward the proceedings is infectious and fun.  And the ever-commanding presence of Sam Jackson is crucial.  He lends instant gravitas to the zany adventure.

It was a good idea, mostly well executed, and delivers the thrills and chills promised.  I think the world was just far too ready to brush it aside after all the hype…apparently, there IS such a thing as too much publicity.  But that’s unfair.  The movie makes no pretenses other than a couple of hours of screaming delight, and it doesn’t fail.  And hey, a lot of people are afraid of snakes and flying anyway, so like The Towering Inferno, it pairs two common phobias for something even greater than the sum of the individual parts.

The internet fans had it right…you can’t go wrong with a title like Snakes on a Plane.  Though personally, I loved their ideas of how other movies would have sounded had the same producers made them instead.  Like Titanic becoming Big F**king Boat Rams Iceberg.  Probably would have looked crappy engraved on an Oscar statue, but we can always dream, can’t we?

Video ****

I don’t think New Line ever fails to deliver a quality DVD, and this is no exception.  The striking anamorphic transfer, which is clean, clear and crisp in both light and dark settings, makes full use of digital capabilities and delivers a disc that in this young year may prove hard to beat.

Audio ****

You want audio action?  You’re in the right place…whether Dolby or DTS, be prepared for a dynamic, unsafe listening experience that will have your living room slithering.  Top notch!

Features ****

There’s a fun commentary featuring the man himself, Samuel L. Jackson, along with director David R. Ellis and other people in the ‘middle initial’ club.  It’s a fun listen.  There’s also a music video, a funny blooper reel, ten deleted scenes and trailers and TV spots. 

There are three featurettes, one on the making of the film, one on the special effects, and one on the fans and their blogs that got the whole thing slithering in the first place!

Summary:

The ideas for sequels are limitless.  Gators on a Submarine?  Komodo Dragons on a Space Shuttle?  John Kerry on a Swift Boat?  Who knows.  But in the meantime, don’t let the backlash keep you from enjoying this mindless yet undeniably entertaining roller coaster of a movie.

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