Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Movie Review: Anaconda (1997)


A horror movie about a voracious giant snake, Anaconda offers a predictable premise, cheesy good special effects, and a ready-to-eat buffet of decent cast members.

In South America, documentary filmmaker Terri Flores (Jennifer Lopez) is embarking on a dangerous river journey to find an elusive Amazonian tribe. Her crew includes cameraman Danny Rich (Ice Cube), anthropologist Dr. Steven Cale (Eric Stoltz), production manager Denise Kalberg (Kari Wuhrer), sound engineer Gary Dixon (Owen Wilson), and pompous actor/narrator Warren Westridge (Jonathan Hyde).

Boat skipper Mateo (Vincent Castellanos) navigates the group along the river and early in the journey they rescue Paraguayan snake hunter Paul Serone (Jon Voight) from his stranded boat. Grizzled and caustic, Serone starts to take charge. His singular objective is to find and capture alive a mammoth human-eating anaconda, placing Terri and her crew in grave danger.

An old-fashioned creature feature, Anaconda follows a traditional construct by lining up a small group of victims as ready-to-eat meals. Peruvian director Luis Llosa delivers an ultra economical thriller within 89 minutes with all the requisite creepy, scary and disgusting moments, and still invests the film's first half in getting to know the characters and terrain. The mist-shrouded spooky Amazonian setting proves more interesting than the people, who never rise above stock soft-meat targets.

Except for Serone. Following in the footsteps of Quint and many previous cinematic acerbic hunters on destiny's path to confront their greatest nemesis, Jon Voight bites into the role with reptilian venom. He deploys an upside down smile and exotic accent to express unbridled disdain at the urbanite civilian film crew, easy to manipulate and easier to kill as necessary.

The ridiculously large and frequently angry snake, a special effects creation slithering between funny and hideous, does not welcome visitors and starts to attack with satisfying regularity in the second half. But Serone proves just as treacherous, leaving Anaconda with two oversized villains and plenty of hissing.






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