Anaconda (1997)
Fun Creature Feature
5 July 2009
"Anaconda" is one of those movies that is more fun than it has a right to be. The storyline is absurd, the acting is adequate at best, and the direction repeatedly rips off of other movies. But "Anaconda" is an entertaining ride if you can get past the deficiencies.

In a way, "Anaconda" is like a slasher movie. The movies starts out with a relatively numerous cast, gets them to strut their stuff while making them appear as beautiful as possible, and then have the killer/monster pick them off one by one. However, instead of a masked knife-wielding psychopath, we have a few very big snakes.

A film crew is going on location to film a documentary about the mysterious Shirishama tribe of the Amazon. Led by the director Terri Flores (Jennifer Lopez) and the anthropologist, Dr. Steven Cale (Eric Stolz), the trip seems to be going fine. Then they rescue a stranded man named Paul Sarone (Jon Voight), and things start to go bad...REALLY bad.

In a movie like this, it's not important (nor necessarily expected) to have good performances. However, the audience has to care about whether they live or die. Save for Terri and Danny (Ice Cube), that doesn't really happen. Still, "Anaconda" boasts one great performance: Voight. Sarone is creepy in the true jungle adventure way. Vile, disgusting, psychotic, or any other number of malevolent adjectives could describe Sarone. The rest of the cast doesn't fare better. Lopez is pretty to look at, but there's no spark or energy in her performance. Ice Cube has plenty of attitude, but still manages to be likable. Jonathan Hyde broadens his range, albeit slightly. He's still a pompous British snob, but he's not a one-note character. Owen Wilson (an actor whom I never liked) is miscast, and Kari Wuhrer is awful.

The best thing about "Anaconda" is the atmosphere. The jungle is gorgeous, but ominous. Luis Llosa knows how to capture it just so; you can feel the heat and humidity, but he knows this is a action/horror movie, not a National Geographic feature, so he makes it a creepy place when it needs to be. He repeatedly steals from other movies, specifically, "Jaws," but the techniques still work. It also helps that for the most part, the special effects work.

"Anaconda" is a lot of fun (why it has such a notorious reputation is beyond me). "Take her for a spin!"
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