Measured Against Reality

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Rants on a Plane: Problems With "Snakes on a Plane"

I saw Snakes on a Plane last night, and it was pretty much what it advertised. It was entertaining. It was pretty much what I expected. But what I didn’t expect, and perhaps should have, was how much about snakes and planes the movie would get wrong. I’m something of a pedant, and when making a choice that doesn’t really affect the plot of the movie, I prefer if the movie gets it right rather than perpetuating falsehoods. I also really like snakes, so I’m a bit biased.

Continue reading...1. Snake-vision

I’m not sure what they were going for with the green snake-vision. Birds and reptiles have four cones compared to our three, so if anything they see in more colors than we can comprehend. My guess is that it was based on the rudimentary infrared vision that pit vipers and some other snakes have, which would have about that resolution and show living things as brighter than their surroundings (which the snake-vision did). But this would be misleading, since not all snakes have this and the ones that do use it secondarily. I’m still not sure why they opted for green, like night-vision, rather than shades varying from blue to red as thermal vision is normally depicted.

2. The really big snake

This snake had teeth, big pointy teeth. No snakes have teeth like that. That is such a ridiculous oversight. Besides having ridiculous teeth, it also constricted and ate that annoying British guy after eating a dog, which it wouldn’t do (especially not with those teeth). Also no snake can get big enough to eat a full-grown man. Reticulated anacondas do get big enough to eat small children, but very rarely. This snake bothered me.

3. The venom

The venom killed people way too quickly. Most snake venoms take hours to kill a person, and there are very few that take less than hour, the black mamba for instance. I cannot find an example of one that takes minutes, let alone seconds. The quickest killers are the snakes with neurotoxic venom, which shuts down the nervous system and can cause paralysis fairly quickly. The rest have hemotoxic venom, which destroy blood and/or tissue, and are more survivable. People bitten with this kind of venom (as some were) would probably have survived the flight.

The other venom problem is that snakes take hours, days, or even weeks to regenerate the venom injected during a bite, whether it’s a living thing or not. So any snake that had bitten anything would be rendered harmless for the rest of the flight. But there were a lot of mother-fucking snakes on that plane, so it’s hard to say if this would have mattered.

4. Pheromones

I have to say, I’m glad that there was something causing the snakes to be super-aggressive, even if pheromones wouldn’t have this effect, and certainly for not dozens of different species. Regardless of that, why wouldn’t the snakes just all mate with the leis? They’d follow the pheromones to the most concentrated spot and just stay there.

5. Explosive decompression

This was busted on MythBusters quite a while ago, I guess no one in production watched that episode. Planes do not explode when you shoot their windows, and the most certainly do not continue to suck things out until you get lower. Air would fly out of the windows for a few seconds and ruffle some papers around, and once the pressure was equalized everything would be fine. Not a single snake would go flying out of the window. The speed that they were moving out would generate quite a bit of force which could cause problems, but it’s highly unlikely that they would be significant, and certainly wouldn’t cause things to be sucked out.

What I wanted them to do as soon as they found out it was pheromones was blow open a bunch of windows. That would get the pheromones out of the plane, and calm the snakes down. It’s a perfect solution that doesn’t violate any laws of physics.


Those were the ones I noticed. Most weren’t too bad, the only one that really got to me was the snake with teeth, and overall didn’t detract from the movie, that everyone knew would be absurd. Although I have to say, I don’t think I’ve had a better moment in a movie theater than when the entire theater loudly cheered Sammy Jackson saying, “I’ve had it with these mother-fucking on this mother-fucking plane!” It’s too bad it didn’t do better opening weekend, snake snafus included.

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7 Comments:

  • Besides fangs, most snakes have ordinary teeth in two parallel rows of on each side of the upper and lower jaws

    By Blogger NACHO, at 9:52 AM, August 23, 2006  

  • As I readily admit, I get things wrong occasionally. Yes, snakes do have teeth, but they're small, completely unlike the ones in the movie, which were reminiscent of Jurassic Park.

    By Blogger stupac2, at 10:00 AM, August 23, 2006  

  • i totally agree with most of this but i must say that there are snakes that can eat an adult man with ease, there has been snakes known to eat baby hippos, also you saying that by blowing out windows would suck out the pheromoans and calm them down, this may suck out some of the pheromoans in the plane but would not calm them down because it is already in the snakes system and they are in the agressive mind set, and one last thing the film is absolute rubbish, its the biggest load of crap iv ever seen.
    i dont mean to sound horrid by the way :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:32 PM, July 20, 2009  

  • I'm not very afraid of snakes however if I have to bump into phytons I'm rather die before touching it or have some physical contact with them. It's said that eating snakes provokes a similar effect as the Viagra Online.

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  • snakes on a plane is one of the silliest movies I've ever seen it's boring and full of errors.

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