DVD Review HTF Review: Soul Plane - Mile High Edition (Unrated)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Jason Perez, Aug 23, 2004.

  1. Jason Perez

    Jason Perez Second Unit

    Jul 6, 2003
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    Soul Plane: Mile High Edition (Unrated)

    Studio: MGM
    Year: 2004
    Rated: Not Rated
    Running Time: 92 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16x9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
    Subtitles: English, French, and Spanish
    Audio: English – Dolby Digital 5.1

    Release Date:
    September 7th, 2004

    Merely getting a major studio like MGM to put forth a crude film like Soul Plane in this politically correct, hypersensitive day and age is somewhat of a remarkable accomplishment, and I commend director Jessy Tererro and his team for that. Unfortunately, they deserve no further compliments, as Terrero’s very forgettable directorial debut has made a mess of the disaster/comedy concept that played so well in the Zuckers’ Airplane! films, by cramming the script’s thinly drawn characters and an almost mind boggling amount of unimaginative racial stereotyping and overly repetitive or simply gross sex-based comedy into a mere 92 minutes (in its unrated form).

    On second thought, I will pay Terrero one more compliment, as he is clearly a fantastic pitchman if he was able to get this fly-infested turd of a script green-lit. Really folks, although my expectations were very, very low, this movie is a dreadfully uneven conglomeration of jokes and insincere drama that is almost completely lacking in substance. I suppose anyone who saw the trailer expected as much, but what is really surprising is how truly unoriginal and genuinely unfunny Soul Plane is, despite being willing to dredge the bottom of the barrel of poor taste for its humor (a blind man’s “enjoyment” of a baked potato is a prime example).

    Don’t get me wrong, there are some bits sprinkled throughout the film that generate a chuckle or two, but taken as a whole Soul Plane is neither amusing nor entertaining. It goes without saying that comedy is a subjective thing, so take that statement for what you will, but I must tell you my dislike of this film is not because I am staunchly opposed to this type of raunchy, politically-incorrect humor! Indeed, not every film can (or should) be as dramatic as Casablanca, or as wholesome and family-friendly as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and I am proud to have films like Airplane! and The Naked Gun in my collection. The simple fact of the matter is that I do not like Soul Plane because it is bereft of originality, because its humor is poorly executed, and because its characters are entirely one-dimensional, most often existing merely to get from one gag to the next.

    In terms of its story - and I hesitate to call it that - the Soul Plane takes flight when a man named Nashawn Wade (Kevin Hart), is the victim of a bathroom incident on an airplane, and is awarded an obscene amount of money by a jury for his trauma. Subsequently, Nashawn invests the cash into his own company, Nashawn Wade Airlines, or “NWA”, which takes a “bling-bling” approach to flying the friendly skies, by commissioning a vibrant purple aircraft with hydraulic switches, more chrome than a Harley Davidson, scantily clad flight attendants, and even an in-flight bar/dance club.

    Unfortunately, while Nashawn has got the inclination (and the bankroll) to open up a plush airline with hip-hop influences, his company’s personnel decisions, handled by his cousin Muggsy (Method Man), are questionable at best. For instance, the inaugural NWA flight is piloted by a blunt smoking, agoraphobic pilot named Captain Mack (Snoop Dogg), whose previous flight experience is sketchy, to put it mildly. The airline’s security is in even less capable hands, as security screeners like the loud, obnoxious, and overly physical Jamiqua (Mo’Nique) and Shaniece (Loni Love) not only berate and harass the airline’s patrons, but also have a penchant for strip-searching the more handsome males.

    Finally, the storyline would have you believe that a timid white family (with the surname of Hunkee), headed by Tom Arnold, is transferred to NWA because the airline they had chosen was overbooked. Whatever…the real reason for the Hunkees’ inclusion is to provide a basis for some irreverent race-based humor. Anyway, after the Hunkees settle in amongst the other passengers in “Low Class”, the plane takes off, and hilarity ensues…or perhaps it might have ensued, but veteran music-video director Jessy Terrero pilots this craft without any indication that he has a sense of comic style.

    In all honesty, the vast majority of Soul Plane’s running time is filled with clunky, repetitive material, and Terrero proves to be utterly incapable of sustaining the little humor that does present itself as the flight progresses. Moreover, screenwriters Bo Zenga and Chuck Wilson are all too eager to aim for cheap and easy laughs than to try anything really new or fresh, which causes most of the gags and jokes crash on takeoff.

    Perhaps my biggest problem with this film though, is that the “dramatic” sequences are taken entirely too seriously by Jessy Terrero. Perhaps the best example of this involves Nashawn, who unexpectedly encounters his former girlfriend, Giselle (K.D. Aubert) on board, and attempts to rekindle their relationship once he discovers that someone has made the serious commitment to her that he could not. Unfortunately, this attempt (and another like it between Heather Hunkee and her dad) to infuse the film with some drama and sensitivity does not ring true at all, and the result is even less entertaining than Soul Plane’s mediocre comedic elements.

    I suppose the bottom line is this: even when viewed as what it is, namely a spoof that is stupid by design, Soul Plane is quite a disappointment. Potentially offensive racial stereotyping, ineffective sex jokes, and lame attempts to add some weight to the film aside, this movie offers a very bland viewing experience that becomes more difficult to keep watching with each passing second. Admittedly, I am a fan of the Zuckers, but even looking at this objectively, I think most people will conclude that Airplane! soars to heights that Soul Plane’s engines are much too weak to reach!!!

    As bad a movie as Soul Plane is, MGM’s widescreen enhanced (1.85:1) transfer sure makes it easy on the eyes. From the deep purples of the NWA plane and Muggsy’s velvet sweat suit, to John Witherspoon’s loud yellow suit, to character’s flesh tones, colors are reproduced very nicely, without any apparent distractions or abnormalities. Black level is also handled adeptly, so there is plenty of detail during night shots, or in the sparsely illuminated nightclub interiors.

    Most DVDs featuring recent productions are looking pretty good these days, so I was not surprised to see that Soul Plane exhibits not only a miniscule amount of grain or dirt in the image, but also a satisfying level of sharpness and detail. Perhaps most importantly though, edge enhancement and other digital distractions missed this flight. All in all, this is a very fine transfer!

    Now that’s what I’m talking about, playas! The 5.1 channel Dolby Digital mix for Soul Plane ensures that every curse word and racial slur can be heard clearly, and that every bass-heavy rap beat will make your subwoofer beg for mercy and piss off your neighbors! [​IMG] Indeed, during the film’s many nightclub scenes, songs like Yin-Yang Twins’ “Salt Shaker”, exhibit bass response that is both extremely powerful and well defined all the way to the bottom of the audible spectrum.

    The surrounds also provide a fairly enveloping experience throughout the film, in addition to helping to fill in the listening space whenever music is playing, which is quite often. All in all, everything sounds pretty good, but I do have one small complaint - on a few occasions it seemed like dialogue was coming across as slightly hollow, which is odd for a recent production. Anyway, that being said, this should not give one any trouble hearing what is being said, and the dynamic soundtrack presents the source material almost as well as one could ask for on the whole.


    Audio Commentary
    For Soul Plane’s “Mile High” Edition, stars Tom Arnold, Kevin Hart, Gary Anthony Williams, and Godfrey, have been reunited with director Jesse Terrero to create a raucous, but fairly scene-specific audio commentary. For the most part, the group kicks back, pokes fun at each other, and laughs about the film, but they do recount some of their on-set experiences and point out interesting/silly things going on in the background of scenes as well. Some of the things I found most enjoyable were:

    --- Jessy Terrero talking about how some of the effects in the film were created, like when Captain Mack starts hittin’ switches from inside the cockpit.

    --- A discussion about the “K Board”, which was used to de-emphasize Kevin Hart’s height (or lack thereof).

    --- The frequent, and sometimes funny, swipes the participants take at each other. I know, that doesn’t really pertain to the film, but it did keep my interest throughout the commentary, which is saying something considering how little I liked the film.

    Boarding Pass: The Making of Soul Plane
    This “making of” for Soul Plane runs a full 25 minutes, and in my opinion it probably should have been pared down, because it offers such a superficial level of detail that it really started to drag after a while. So what do we learn? Well, mixed in with plenty of behind the scenes footage, director Jessy Terrero talks about casting the film, what the actors brought to their roles, and the pressure of making the jump from doing music videos to a feature film. Later, the actors then speak (mostly in jest) about their parts, the movie, and working for Mr. Terrero. Again, however, none of these topics are delved into in much detail.

    All in all, it is not a bad featurette, but it is overlong, and the image quality is variable, ranging from very good to blurry. And what is up with Gary Anthony Williams’ teeth? It looks as if someone was shining a million-candlepower light on them!

    Deleted Scenes
    There are 4 deleted scenes provided for our viewing pleasure. Although a couple of these scenes, particularly “Fudge”, are funny, they are all rather brief. On a side note, the visuals are lacking, as they also contain major combing artifacts. The four scenes included are:

    --- “Mr. Hunkee in the Bathroom”
    --- “Smoking Section”
    --- “Fudge”
    --- “Black Cockpits”

    The Upgrade Featurette
    During this 5-minute featurette, members of Soul Plane’s cast discuss their experiences working with director Jessy Terrero. A few even offer some tongue-in-cheek comments on Terrero’s approach to sex scenes. In my opinion, rapper Snoop Dogg offered the most interesting observation on Jessy Terrero, as he was able to compare the different approach that Terrero brought to a feature film, as opposed to a music video.

    The outtakes reel, which is severely hampered by ugly combing artifacts, features about two minutes of actors breaking up in mid-scene, forgetting their lines, and goofing off.

    Survivor Safety Video
    The “Survivor Safety Video” is the full roughly two-minute version of the in-flight safety video for NWA’s inaugural flight, as sung to the tune of Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor”.

    Easter Egg
    This hidden featurette, titled “Frequent Fliers”, chronicles some bizarre experiences some of the castmembers have come across during their many trips by plane. Others talk about what they would change if they were in charge of an airline. It can be found by highlighting “Deleted Scenes” on the Special Features menu and pressing right on your remote

    Photo Gallery
    The photo gallery, which is divided into two sections – “Cast” and “On Set” - contains about 50 color production stills.

    Theatrical Trailer
    The original theatrical trailer for Soul Plane is included.

    Def Jam Video Game Trailer
    A 1-minute promotional trailer for “Def Jam’s Fight For N.Y.” Video Game is included.

    Promotional Materials
    There are trailers for the forthcoming Walking Tall DVD, the already available DVDs Barbershop 2: Back In Business, Barbershop, and Dorm Daze, as well as an “MGM Mean Great Movies” promo and cover art for six other MGM releases.

    Last, but not least, there is also a teaser trailer for the direct-to-video Species III on the disc.


    (on a five-point scale)
    Movie: [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Video: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Audio: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Extras: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Overall: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I knew Soul Plane was going to be bad, just from seeing the trailer. Even so, I did not expect that is would be this bad! Seriously, the characters and story are thinner than a sheet of college-ruled paper, the film contains very little creativity, and surprisingly given the lengths it is willing to travel for a laugh, most of the jokes and gags are both repetitious and ineffective.

    Moving on to presentation, what we have here is yet another clear case of awful movie, good DVD. First off, the transfer is very good, and the Dolby Digital soundtrack will fill your room with BOOM! Secondly, even though they are hit-or-miss, there are a fair amount of extras here, from a feature length commentary, to deleted scenes, to a making of featurette! Considering how poorly this movie performed at the box office, I certainly expected less.

    However, the overall evaluation of this release is simple – despite being as tricked out as NWA’s jet, I find myself hard pressed to recommend a film that is really just an astonishingly unfunny and uninspired take on Airplane!. On the other hand, if you count yourself in among those who enjoyed this movie in theaters, you should find that this “mile-high” edition offers a first-class ride aboard the Soul Plane!

    Stay tuned…
  2. JonZ

    JonZ Lead Actor

    Dec 28, 1998
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    I cant believe Im saying this, but I want to see Soul Plane.
    The trailer made me laugh.
  3. Matt Butler

    Matt Butler Screenwriter

    Jun 23, 2001
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    What Jon said.

    Seriously; my buddy and I saw the trailer in the theatre and almost cried from laughter. The moment I saw the plane with the hydralics (sp?) we were in stiches.

    Oh and Jason,
    What did you think of the movie? [​IMG]
  4. Francois Caron

    Francois Caron Cinematographer

    Jul 31, 1997
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    Francois Caron
    I'm also tempted to get the DVD just to see that plane!

    Only problem is, based on the review, it may be the only decent item in the entire movie! [​IMG]
  5. Jeff D Han

    Jeff D Han Supporting Actor

    Mar 2, 2003
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    Thanks for the thorough review Jason.[​IMG]

    I give you credit for giving the DVD a good
    going over, considering how much you didn't
    like the film.

    I'll probably put this on my Netflix queue.
  6. Matthew Chmiel

    Matthew Chmiel Cinematographer

    Apr 26, 2000
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    I sat through the film in theaters. It sucks, don't waste your time.

    Before they get on the plane, the film is funny.
    Once they get on the plane, the film goes down in flames.
  7. Adam Portrais

    Adam Portrais Stunt Coordinator

    Sep 21, 2002
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    I'll give it a rent (Thank you Blockbuster Movie Pass). Good to see that at least the technical side of things is pretty good.
  8. John KB

    John KB Second Unit

    May 27, 2003
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    Any other opinions on this movie?
  9. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?

    Dec 1, 1999
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    Gulf Coast
    Real Name:
    Tony D.
    the movie would have been funnier if the deleted scenes were in the movie.
    they were only about 3 minutes so it wouldnt have been too much for a 92 minute movie.
    the bass was excellent, the best thing about the movie.

    the scene when a bunch of football players run on screen nearly felt like an explosion, great bass.

    i wouldnt buy this without seeing it first, and then use a free rental, dont pay to see this ovie.

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