Review: Is ‘Snakes on a Plane’ Still a Great Ride?

Next Tuesday New Line Home Entertainment’s Snakes on a Plane hits retailers on DVD… the question is, will it be as entertaining at home as it was in theaters? Inside you’ll find Tex’s review of the DVD, which features: Commentary by director David Ellis and Samuel L. Jackson, Deleted scenes with optional commentary from director David Ellis, “Pure Venom: The Making of Snakes on a Plane” featurette, “Snakes on a Blog” featurette, “Meet the Reptiles” featurette, “Snakes on a Plane VFX” featurette, Gag reel, Music videos by Cobra Starship and others, Five TV spots and Trailers.

Snakes on a Plane
Reviewed By: Tex Massacre
6/10 or 3 Skulls

This could be the shortest review in history–but it’s not! The simple fact is that it’s almost impossible to quantify the experience of watching David R Ellis’ homage to everything wrong–yet undeniably brilliant–about 1980’s super action cinema. SNAKES ON A PLANE is a 4-word plot. No hidden meaning. No shocking twist, No reservations. No expectations–save for one.

The Internet hype that preceded this movie is unparalleled in the history of advertising. Sure, the BLAIR WITCH had a cool website, with its “is it true” mentality–but that hype goes back at least as far as Orson Wells’ reading of War of the Worlds. SNAKES ON A PLANE is an entirely different animal, born of the Internet. With fans creating their own short films and actually influencing the direction New Line ultimately took with the films release (adding gore, nudity and language, to appease the masses). In a new world blogosphere the suits took a classic Hollywood adage to heart…”If you build it, they will come”. But in the end, “they” stayed home.

It seems to me a foregone conclusion that the shelf life of SNAKES ON A PLANE will be infinite. In fact, I can hardly recall another film that likely benefited more from its theatrical run, yet wound up as a box office disappointment. But bear with me true believers because, all that ad money is about to hit pay dirt as New Line’s DVD edition unleashes itself into the safety of millions of living rooms across this planet.

As the DVD comes roaring onto shelves, it brings with it a barrage of special features, but no “Unrated” edition. It seems obvious that since the filmmakers had to up the ante just to get an R-rating that there would be little or no filler to be found. The 10-deleted scenes included in the bonus section only confirm those suspicions. Each is more of an extension of footage already in the film, and at a running time of 107-minutes, S.O.A.P. hardly needed any more padding. The extricated footage can be viewed with or without the Audio Commentary from Ellis, his wife and Associate Producer Tawny and Producer Craig Berenson. You can safely skip the commentary in this section as the assembled voices hardly add any useable value to the trims–all of which was rightfully cut.

Four documentaries make up the biggest and best offerings on the disc. The first–Pure Venom: Making of Snakes on a Plane is the usual EPK styled featurette–it addresses the film in various stages of production, and features most of the principal cast along with a smattering of behind the scenes personnel reflecting on the very serious nature of the snakes and the very not-so-serious nature of the production. Happily no one involved with the project seemed to think they were curing cancer here–as is too often the case with these docs. So, much like the film that precedes it, the “Making Of” floats by on its spry whims.

The second featurette–Meet the Reptiles, focuses on Jules Sylvester, the animal wrangler and resident snake expert. Sylvester and his crew were responsible for the 400 plus live snakes that were used in the filming, including a massive 250 pound Burmese Python named Kitty. This look at the dedication of the crew is peppered with a fascinating overview of the species selected for production. However, those of you with delicate sensibilities (like any of you are reading this review or watching this film) should be warned that when it come to feeding time, the crew has captured a few furry meals on camera–none of which are, unfortunately, the yapping little Chihuahua in the film.

The final two additional bits look at the visual effects creation of the digital reptiles. Just in case some of you naive viewers thought that the King Cobras were actually attacking the cast, the boys at VFX show you how to make the monsters. And all the hype leads back to the source in the clip Snakes on a Blog, which deconstructs the internet frenzy leading up to the premiere, including interviews with an assorted cast of webmasters who almost single-handedly changed the course for the creation and marketing of a major motion picture. This doc is the most fun, since it’s comprised of quite a few fan films with titles such as “Snakes on my Home Birth” and a wide swath of other creatures on any number of inanimate objects. A testament to the depth and breadth of creative stupidity available on the web today? It’s almost staggering!

Ellis and Sam Jackson provide audio commentary and the disc is rounded out with trailers and a music video. It might have served the film–if only cheekily–to have included an audio commentary track from a few of the Bloggers. And, while I think New Line gave them their due, the wit and oddly placed affection that they have shown this grade-Z thriller might have added a raucously effective review of the end product.

SNAKES ON A PLANE is what the industry likes to call a critic-proof film. What that means is that they don’t give a damn–and they think that you don’t give a damn–if I liked it. Frankly, I couldn’t agree more. Nothing I could tell you (and certainly nothing anyone could have told me) should keep you from picking up a copy of what has to be the “see it too believe it” film of the decade. It’s worse than you could possibly imagine, yet better than you could’ve ever dreamed of.

Source: Buy it here