Snakes on a Plane

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Release date: Jan. 2, 2007

The asps on an aircraft movie, "Snakes on a Plane," a New Line Home Entertainment Widescreen release (retail $28.98), is utterly ludicrous, combining the worst cliches of the "Airport" films with an absurd premise (they've been put there by a mobster to cause a crash and kill a protected witness) and a rushed exposition, but once all of the characters and reptiles are in place, the latter dangling from the emergency oxygen mask compartments like the story's plot points, it does indeed become the B-movie thrill ride it only wants to be. There are more vipers on the jetliner than could possibly have come out of the rigged-to-erupt cargo crate quickly but that seems irrelevant when the only thing you are worrying about is where the next hissing computer graphic serpent head is going to lunge at you, and when star Samuel L. Jackson is actually going to emote what became the signature dialog line of his career months before the 2006 film was actually released to theaters, even though that quotation will never be printed in family newspapers without pound signs and asterisks replacing the key words. The film's stupidity and careless execution undercuts some of the goodwill generated by its precision-strike concept, but as it settles into the crevices of the popular entertainment canon, it will long thrive upon generations of unsuspecting victims poking around its habitat in search of a cheap snack.

The letterboxing has an aspect ratio of about 2.35:1 and an accommodation for enhanced 16:9 playback. The picture is bright and sharp. There is both a 5.1-channel Dolby Digital track with ES encoding and a DTS track with EX-encoding, although, like the movie's other components, the audio mix is not particularly artful and rarely adds much to the atmosphere or excitement. The 106-minute feature has optional English and Spanish subtitles, five minutes of inevitably amusing bloopers, 12 minutes of so-what character enhancing deleted scenes, a passable 18-minute production featurette, a good 13-minute segment on the live snakes used in the film, a five-minute piece on the special effects, a game 10-minute segment on the excitement the project created on the Internet before it even began shooting, three trailers, five TV commercials, and a nine-minute segment on making the music video that appears during the end credit scroll.

Jackson, director David Ellis, producer Craig Berenson and others provide a relaxed and engaging commentary track, explaining how various sequences were executed and just celebrating the fun they had making it. Berenson tells Jackson, "I remember when we first came to meet with you and David said, 'How do you feel about working with snakes?' And you, without missing a beat, said, 'Hey, as long as they know their lines, I'm fine with it.'"

The complete database of Doug Pratt's DVD-video reviews is available at dvdlaser.com. A sample copy of the DVD-Laser Disc Newsletter can be obtained by calling (516) 594-9304.
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