FEBRUARY 12, 2010
Thanks to Zombieland's poor research team, I was under the impression that Anaconda was an R-rated movie, so I was dismayed to see the PG-13 rating on Netflix' info screen as I sat down to end my inexplicable thirteen (!) year boycott of the original Anaconda, despite having seen all of the sequels. Who the hell watches Anaconda 4 at all, let alone without having the reason of "I wanted to see how it compared to the original"? Me, that's who.
Anyway, as is the case with many 90s horror movies, it's pretty bland and overly "studio". Characters die in order of their Q rating (which of course, has reversed over the years - nowadays, Owen Wilson is probably the biggest box office draw out of all of them, but this was pretty much his first studio role), the requisite human villain is continually ignored by the monster so it can save him for last, etc. I may have never seen the movie before, but I have seen this movie several dozen times before, you know? And they don't even try to push the boundaries of a PG-13 rating; apart from an obvious F bomb from Ice Cube and a quick bit where a baby snake bites a guy's finger, this could almost net a PG in comparison to today's PG-13 stuff.
It's not without its charms though. Jon Voight is, of course, the best thing about it, with his Tony Montana accent and casual attire (dude wears a loose-fitting red t-shirt for half the movie - easiest Halloween costume ever!). And even though he's the villain, he inadvertently becomes the only character you give a shit about, because he's the only one with a personality (I cheered at the scene where a minor character died and he offers a half-hearted prayer and sign of the cross - it's also pretty much the only reaction to the death at all among the entire cast). Everyone else, particularly Ice Cube, just plays themselves.
Speaking of Cube, who the hell does he think he is? He's the 2nd billed star here - Jennifer Lopez is supposed to be the ultimate hero. But no, Cube kills the snake BOTH times (as this is a generic monster movie, it of course has to die, "surprisingly" come back, and then die a more gruesome death), blowing it up first and driving a pickaxe through it's head the 2nd time around. This is a severe violation of horror movie rules. J. Lo should have been the one wielding the tools for that 2nd death, at the very least.
Also, Luis Llosa is a pretty bad director, IMO. The movie was shot at least in part in the Amazon, but most of it looks like they're on the tiniest stage on the Sony lot, and I never had the slightest sense as to how far they had traveled (the boat also seems to be stopped more often than not). And when the snake makes its first big appearance, he gives a Vertigo shot to Lopez, even though she's sort of nonplussed by the thing; it would have made a lot more sense to focus on Voight's reaction, since he is the one hunting the damn thing and the one that is actually surprised at how big it is. And yes, I know they give the shot to Scheider in Jaws and not Shaw, but Shaw wasn't in the movie yet at that point so it doesn't count.
He also seemingly didn't bother to visualize the CGI snake attacking his actors when he filmed their (probably) green-screen based death scenes. Wilson in particular just sort of stands there awkwardly and doesn't make the slightest struggle as the snake (slowly) wraps itself around him and crushes his body. You'd think he'd swing his arms or make twisting gestures, but nope. And when Voight is taken it doesn't even look like his actions match up with that of the snake, as if they took his shot from a different scene entirely.
But, you know, it's a giant snake movie. If you're sitting down for such a thing, you probably know exactly how it will play out. I think I like the second one more (more interesting cast of characters, more snakes, better direction), but this one is perfectly acceptable B-movie fare; a Sci-Fi Channel original with better actors and slightly better CGI. And I'm probably the last person alive who had even the slightest interest in seeing it that hadn't already, so this review is as pointless as a review could possibly be. Let's all move on, shall we?
What say you?