JANUARY 10, 2009
You can really track the evolution of the Anaconda franchise just by looking at who plays the badass snake hunter character. The first was a big budget affair, so it had Jon Voight, collecting a nice check and adding a bit of legitimacy and top-notch scenery chewing. The 2nd was the 2000s version of a programmer – it existed only to fill a gap in Sony’s summer schedule, and thus we got Johnny Messner, go-to reliable tough guy who is seemingly caught in the limbo between the big and small screen. Now that the series has gone to the Sci-Fi channel, Anaconda 3: Offspring offers us David Hasselhoff, known cheeseburger enthusiast and star of all things lame.
Hoff actually gets top billing for what should be the “And” role (which is given to John Rhys-Davies, who appears only slightly less), and after a while I found myself being more entertained by how the editors attempted to make it LOOK like he was in the movie a lot more than he actually was. He only appears twice in the first 45 minutes, and neither scene is essential in any way (one doesn’t even make any sense) other than to explain that A. he’s a badass and B. he’s been called in to stop the snake. But even once he joins the team (his re-introduction to the story is hilarious: he pulls up out of nowhere, firing a handgun at the thing) he keeps disappearing; at one point the four surviving folks split into two teams, and wouldn’t you know it – we follow the non-be-Hoff-ed team and settle for a single shot of Hoff and the other guy running through the woods in order to explain how they get back together later.
Hilariously, at one point we cut to a typical victim scene. You know the kind from all the other predator movies: the snake/bear/shark whatever is loose, and after a bunch of exposition, we need a kill, so some isolated guy is introduced, hears a noise, and is killed, usually within 2-3 minutes of his introduction. Yet here, since the film’s star is apparently filming Youtube clips, the eventual victim gets what seems like a full ten minutes as he walks around his farm, looks at his animals, enjoys a few fakes scares, and is finally (yet slowly) eaten by the godawful CGI snake. By the time he’s finally finished, he’s had nearly three times as much screentime as Hasselhoff has had at that point.
Speaking of the snake – good Christ it’s fucking terrible. Like, Lake Placid 2 bad (though there’s at least two shots that look decent). Like all these CG heavy cheapo movies, the damn thing’s size changes from scene to scene, and the animators’ attempts to make it “blend” with the real footage by having (also CGI) grass and branches get moved around a bit are laughable. There is also an unforgivably bad ‘rear projection while driving’ scene, in which our genius FX crew couldn’t even be bothered to rock or bounce the car a bit in the master shot, making it unnaturally (and therefore hilariously) still - despite the fact that they are driving an SUV through the jungle.
Another big problem is that the film is about a pair of giant, rampaging snakes, and yet 90% of the movie takes place in the usual science labs, abandoned warehouses, and farmhouses. Since when do anaconda snakes seek out the closest structure with running electricity? And since it’s all CG, you could probably turn the movie into ANY escaped predator movie; nothing about it is snake-centric.
Finally, it really skimps on delivering big moments. The snakes seem more than happy to simply skewer everyone with their pointy tails, with only one squeeze death in the entire thing (again – not a snake-centric movie), and they never do anything really cool. Also, we don’t even get the thrill of seeing their demise; both of them are killed offscreen via explosion. Lame. Plus, our heroine (the cute Krystal Allen) has two of the worst one-liners I’ve ever heard in a movie, and she delivers one to the snake like a full minute before it dies, which is rather awkward. Can you imagine I Come In Peace if Dolph was like “And you go in pieces, asshole!” and then just sort of chilled for a bit before blowing the bad guy to hell?
I have something in my notes that reads “Snake in Micro?” Can’t quite figure that one out, but let’s assume it was another complaint about the movie.
I will give credit where credit is due though: it could have been even more of a cheap knockoff than it is, but they go out of their way to tie it into the previous film’s storyline (the blood orchid nonsense). Also, while Allen comes from the Sci-Fi Channel school of “really hot but also really smart” women, she also carries with her two unique traits for this kind of thing. One – you would expect her character to try to bring the snakes back unharmed so she could continue her research, but instead she’s just as gung ho about blowing them all to hell, which is pretty awesome. Two – she’s fucking ignorant, something you learn when she explains that the snake’s venom (or whatever) can be used as a possible cure for “Alltimer’s disease”. I even rewound the film to make sure that’s what she was actually saying. Because I am an optimist, I will imagine that Allen was subtly mocking the idiotic nature of the entire movie by using a term commonly associated with blatant ignorance. She’s also the only reason I managed to make it to the end (took two sittings), so since she stars in the next one (they were shot back to back) I can guarantee I’ll give it a look.
No extras but the trailer. That isn’t a complaint.
What say you?