ANACONDAS: THE HUNT FOR THE BLOOD ORCHID
*** (out of 5)
August 27, 2004
Johnny Messner as BILL JOHNSON
KaDee Strickland as SAM ROGERS
Matthew Marsden as DR. JACK BYRON
Nicholas Gonzalez as DR. BEN DOUGLAS
Eugene Byrd as COLE BURRIS
Karl Yune as TRAN
Salli Richardson-Whitfield as GAIL STERN
Morris Chestnut as GORDON MITCHELL
Studio: Screen Gems
Directed by: Dwight H. Little
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Taking a nod from the successful “Alien” franchise, Screen Gems has made a sequel to the 1997 sleeper hit “Anaconda” by adding an ‘s.’ “Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid” snuck up on us and is suddenly in release. Many people are asking the inevitable “Why?” about this movie. But I’ll counter with a simple “Why not?” Folks, you’ll know whether you want to see this movie or not by the title alone.
The film tells the story of a science expedition that travels deep into the jungle of Borneo to track down the mysterious blood orchid. This orchid blooms for three weeks every seven years and contains a chemical that stops cells from dying. In short, it will provide a pharmaceutical equivalent of the fountain of youth. (Oh, and this has got to be the best looking scientific expedition I’ve ever seen. Even the ugly folks are easy on the eyes.) Of course, the orchid happens to be blooming right in the middle of mating season for the anaconda, and the jungle is teeming with these snakes.
The first thing you’ll notice about “Anacondas” is the lack of the powerhouse cast that “Anaconda” had. Sure, none of the stars were really all that famous at the time of the first movie, unless you’ll consider John Voight slumming it to make a living or Eric Stoltz trying to break into mainstream pictures. In retrospect, “Anaconda” had a cast a producer would kill for now. Imagine an action film starring Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson, with Ice Cube in a supporting role. (And let’s not forget the tour-de-force by modern b-queen Kari Wuhrer.)
Nope. “Anacondas” stars… well, pretty much nobody. The biggest name above the line is Morris Chestnut, who has had quite a career but still hasn’t found as meaty of a role as his breakthrough performance in “Boyz N the Hood.” If anything, “Anacondas” was a chance for Chestnut to grasp at something that did some good for his “Boyz N the Hood” co-star Ice Cube seven years ago.
The next thing you might notice about “Anacondas” is the outrageous lack of scientific accuracy. The film opens up with some natives hunting a tiger in the jungle. But never mind that tigers (and many of the other animals seen in this jungle) aren’t found in Borneo. Neither are anacondas, for that matter. There are some of the largest pythons in the world there, and some of these pythons have been known to eat humans. But anacondas? Not in that hemisphere. Anacondas, which may not be the longest snakes in the world but are definitely the thickest and heaviest, are only found in South America.
But really, who cares? I didn’t go to this movie expecting the Jeff Corwin experience. I wasn’t hoping to learn more about the life cycle of the anaconda. Heck, I don’t care if they had lions and tigers and bears running around that jungle. This movie is about snakes that eat people. Period.
I actually liked the first “Anaconda.” It was a really stupid “Jaws of the Jungle” action flick. And no one involved in the movie seemed to think it was more than that. This sequel isn’t the greatest film to roll out this summer by far. However, is anyone out there thinking there’s going to be more about this movie than snakes chowing down on the expedition?
Compared to the first film, “Anacondas” is actually better. The snake effects are far superior (as they should be with 7 years of digital technology behind them), and the premise of the film is slightly easier to swallow. The acting is awful, as would be expected, and most of the first act is excruciating to watch. But once we get past all that nasty character development and the snakes start swallowing people, the movie actually gets to be quite fun.
Hey look, folks. It could be worse. It could have starred Steven Seagal.