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Anacondas
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ANACONDA
MOVIE REVIEW
ANACONDAS: THE HUNT FOR THE BLOOD ORCHID - 2004
Columbia Pictures
Rated: Argentina, Spain: 13 / Australia: M / Finland: K-14 / Germany: 16 / Norway, Sweden, UK: 15 / Peru: 14 / Portugal: M/12 / USA: PG-13

ALIEN (singular), a very good movie, led to ALIENS (plural), another very good movie. So what happens when you take ANACONDA a (singular) mediocre movie with a few good scenes, and make a sequel called ANACONDAS (plural)? Is more always better? Or at least as good?

ANACONDAS: THE HUNT FOR THE BLOOD ORCHID was directed by Dwight H. Little (WOLF LAKE [TV], MURDER AT 1600, MARKED FOR DEATH, HALLOWEEN 4) and written by the committee of John Claflin (THE WATCH, THEY NEST [TV]), Daniel Zelman (THE WATCH, THEY NEST [TV]), Michael Miner (ROBOCOP, LAWN MOWER MAN 2) and Edward Neumeier (ROBOCOP, STARSHIP TROOPERS, STARSHIP TROOPERS 2).

The story opens with some tribesmen in a jungle that we find out later is in Borneo (the big island in the Indonesian chain, owned two-thirds by Indonesia and one-third by Malaysia). They're on the hunt but quickly become the hunted as we get our first glimpse of the big snake.

Cut to New York City. Gordon Mitchell (Morris Chestnut) and Dr. Jack Byron (Matthew Marsden: BLACK HAWK DOWN) nearly get bounced out of a meeting with a pharmaceutical company. That is, until they mention a certain "blood orchid" found in the rainforest that just might provide immortality! For some odd reason the pharma rep doesn't call security and have them tossed. Instead, he says, "Immortality? Why didn't ya say so? That'll be bigger than viagra! Here's a blank check!"

Back to Borneo. Gordon and Jack lead a group consisting of pharmaceutical company employees and graduate students down to the riverboat docks. The group includes the downbeat Gail Stern (Salli Richardson: GARGOYLES [TV]), the very blonde Sam Rogers (KaDee Strickland: THE SIXTH SENSE, THE STEPFORD WIVES [2004]), horny young doctor Ben Douglas (Nicholas Gonzalez: SPUN) and whiny punk Cole Burris (Eugene Byrd: SLEEPERS, DEMON ISLAND). I'm not kidding about the whiny punk thing, either - I was begging the snakes to eat this guy. I also feel compelled to mention that Gail bears a striking resemblance to Jennifer Lopez, star of the first movie.

By an odd fluke of cliché, it turns out no one will go out on the river during the "rainy season" and the damn orchids are only in bloom for another week, not to return for seven years. If only some scruffy, hard-drinkin' ne'er-do-well American ex-pat riverboat captain could be found. You know, the kind of guy who'll do anything for the right price and who has a mysterious past. Or would that be too formula?

No matter. The group quickly locates the unshaven Bill Johnson (Johnny Messner) and his trusty native sidekick Tran (Karl Yune) and off they go. Things go wrong on the river in a predictable way that seems to take too long even though you can see it coming. And finally, we see the snakes.

But not that much, really. Just some quick glimpses here and there. It actually takes quite a while before we get a good look at any of the giant anacondas and they suffer in comparison to the snake in the first movie because even though the effects are better, they're not much better. Plus, they have the annoying habit of showing up at precisely predictable moments and who needs that?

Speaking of giant anacondas begs the question: How can there be giant anacondas? The answer can only be found in a

!!!SCIENCE MOMENT!!!:
The one thing I liked about this movie (the one and ONLY thing) was how they explained the big snakes. The biggest anaconda ever measured was 28 feet long and the smallest of these (movie) monsters is easily twice that. But it is true, as the movie points out, that reptiles grow their whole lives so the older they get, the bigger they get. Which means if the local environment included an immortality-granting blood orchid as part of the food chain then some of the wildlife might live long enough to get really big.

So they did a decent job with the science, which I like. But the story was boring and predictable and cliché from beginning to end, which I don't like. That's why ANACONDAS gets two shriek girls.

Shriek GirlsShriek Girls
This review copyright 2004 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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