Snakes on a Plane appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. No significant issues arose during this excellent transfer.
From start to finish, sharpness looked excellent. Never did I notice any signs of softness or fuzziness. The movie came across as nicely detailed and well-defined at all times. Jagged edges and shimmering created no concerns, and I also saw no signs of edge enhancement. As one might expect from a recent movie, the film lacked source flaws. I didn’t detect any grit, specks, grain or other issues.
Snakes used a moderately stylized palette. The shots on the ground looked natural, but elements on the plane tended to feature blue-green tints. The colors worked fine for the presentation. The movie consistently demonstrated lively and vivid tones. Blacks also were rich and firm, while low-light shots looked smooth and concise. All in all, this was a solid image.
Both Dolby Digital EX 5.1 and DTS ES 6.1 soundtracks accompanied Snakes on a Plane. I thought the paired seemed identical, as I noticed no significant differences between them. With all the action pieces, the movie presented a lot of nice opportunities for vivid audio, and it followed up on them well. Most of these stemmed from snakes and the plane, as those offered a lot of convincing movement and used all the speakers very well. Environmental elements also created a fine sense of place, and the entire track utilized the five channels to solid effect.
Audio quality also worked well. Speech sounded crisp and distinctive, with no signs of edginess or concerns connected to intelligibility. Music was bright and dynamic, as the mix replicated the score with good clarity. Effects also fared well. Those elements were lively and dynamic, and they showed no distortion or other problems. Bass response was very good. Low-end demonstrated tight, impressive tones. Overall, this was a solid soundtrack.
A mix of extras fills out the set. We find an audio commentary with director David R. Ellis, actor Samuel L. Jackson, producer Craig Berenson, associate producer Tawny Ellis, VFX supervisor Eric Henry and 2nd unit director Freddie Hice. All sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. Recorded prior to the movie’s theatrical release, the track looks at the project’s development and how various folks came on board, stunts and action, various effects, the elaborate airplane set, cast and performances, budget and rating concerns, and the Internet buzz.
Though the commentary manages to provide a decent overview of the different production, it proves somewhat less than satisfying in the end. A surprising amount of dead air materializes, and the tone of the track becomes so jokey that the level of content declines. Jackson proves obnoxious and grating, and the others seem more concerned with one-liners than actual information.
I also could live without the semi-self-congratulatory discussion of the Internet hype. That’s one problem with the time of the recording: since they taped this piece before the movie came out, the participants appear convinced it’ll be a huge hit, and the tone reflects this. It becomes tiresome to hear Ellis boast of all the alleged widespread Snakes mania. Overall, the commentary delivers some good info but it can be a bit of a chore to screen.
A Gag Reel lasts four minutes, 35 seconds. It shows goof ups from the set and a lot of joking. It’s pretty ordinary, though a few amusing bits emerge.
10 Deleted and Extended Scenes run a total of 12 minutes, 14 seconds. We find “Waiting at the Gate” (0:53), “Eddie Kim Spars” (1:10), “Boarding” (2:16), “Three G’s and Mercedes” (1:15), “Agent Flynn and Claire” (1:20), “Longer Mrs. Bova Attack” (1:49), “Music Video Talk” (1:18), “Despair in the Cabin” (0:41), “Water Crash Prep” (0:44) and “Flynn’s Offer” (0:45). Most of these offer minor character additions. Mercedes/Three G’s fill a lot of the time, and we also find a fair amount more with the newlyweds. A smidgen of Claire’s backstory emerges as well. None of these add anything to the experience.
We can watch these with or without commentary from David Ellis, Tawny Ellis and Craig Berenson. They give us some background about each of the scenes and also let us know why they dropped the sequences. They offer some decent notes, though I could live without the continued jokey tone.
Next come some documentaries and featurettes. Pure Venom: The Making of Snakes on a Plane goes for 18 minutes, three seconds and provides the standard mix of movie snippets, behind the scenes shots and interviews. We hear from David Ellis, Jackson, Berenson, Henry, Hice, Tawny Ellis, writer John Heffernan, production designer Jaymes Hinkle, special effects supervisor Matt Kutcher, snake handler Jules Sylvester, and actors Julianna Margulies, Kenan Thompson, Rachel Blanchard, Elsa Pataky, Sunny Mabrey, Bruce James, Lin Shaye, Keith Dallas, Flex Alexander, and Nathan Phillips.
“Venom” looks at the movie’s concept and story, characters and actors, David Ellis’s impact on th set and other members of the crew, the airplane set, live and digital snakes, and various genre considerations. The program avoids much of the usual puffiness as it runs through the production. The show’s brevity means it doesn’t dig too deeply, but it offers a nice overview of matters.
For the 12-minute and 56-second Meet the Reptiles, we find notes from Jackson, Thompson, Berenson, Shaye, Sylvester, Heffernan, David Ellis, Mabrey, Alexander, Margulies, Dallas, snake handler Brad McDonald, and actor Bob Cannavalle. Sylvester dominates this piece as he talks of his interest in snakes, his career, and his work on the flick. We get specifics of shooting with the snakes and learn details about the various breeds of snake. This adds up to an informative and interesting view of the movie’s reptiles.
A VFX Featurette fills five minutes, 19 seconds with remarks from Henry, visual effects supervisor Scott Gordon, character animator Jason Thielen, lead modeler Steve Arguello, match-move supervisor Kevin Hoppe, software development supervisor Rob Tesdahl, lighting TD Manuel Guizar, and compositing supervisor Ed Mendez. Short but sweet, the featurette provides a solid little view of the different effects issues. We get a concise look at various techniques and technical concerns in this solid show.
Finally, Snakes on a Blog lasts 10 minutes, four seconds. It provides comments from Alexander, Phillips, writer David Dalessandro, snakesonstuff.com’s Bridget and Brian O’Neill, screenwriter Sebastian Gutierrez, comedian DCLugi, bloggers Rick Achberger, Eric Medalle and Michael G. Ryan, overcompensating.com’s Jeffrey J. Rowland, and snakesonablog.com’s Brian Finkelstein. They chat about the Internet buzz for the film and its impact. “Blog” neatly encapsulates this significant facet of the flick’s impact.
Some promotional elements finish the package. We get three trailers for Snakes plus five TV spots. We also find a Music Video for “Snakes on a Plane (Bring It)” from Cobra Starship. We can watch this on its own or along with behind the scenes elements. The latter choice lasts eight minutes, 55 seconds, while the video alone is three minutes, 44 seconds. The longer cut includes remarks from director Lex Halaby and musicians Travis McCoy, William Beckett, Gabe Saporta, and Maja Ivarsson. The documentary parts aren’t terribly memorable, but the tune itself is pretty catchy, and the video’s a fun twist on the genre. Happily, it includes no movie clips, and it even features some nice cameos.
The DVD opens with a few ads. We get a promo for the Snakes soundtrack album as well as Code Name: The Cleaner, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, The Butterfly Effect 2, Undisputed II: Last Man Standing, The Wicker Man and A Nightmare On Elm Street.
While it didn’t turn out to be the hit some expected, Snakes on a Plane offers reasonable fun. No one will confuse it for great filmmaking, but it provides the expected level of cheesy entertainment. The DVD presents excellent picture and audio as well as some reasonably good extras. This is a nice package for a goofy but enjoyable flick.