Sunday, January 3, 2010

Movie Review: Anaconda

Anaconda
Rated PG-13
1 Slime
Copyright Columbia Picture 1997

THE CHARACTERS

Terri Flores: Jennifer Lopez! She is the director of the documentary and is completely foolish or idiotic throughout the film. Pick your choice. She really is only here for sex appeal and provides little to the film.

Danny Rich: Ice Cube! He is the cameraman for the documentary and honestly, the bravest one of the entire crew. Nearly gets killed a couple of times, but he pulls through. He’s one of the few survivors in this film.

Denise Kalberg: Kari W├╝hrer! She is the production manager of the show and is in love with Gary for some reason. She’s pretty and smart, why settle for him? Her neck is broken by Sarone.

Gary Dixon: Owen Wilson! He is the soundman for the documentary and is our comic relief. Knowing that, he ends up being snake food.

Warren Westridge: Jonathan Hyde! He’s the host of the documentary, but you’ll mostly remember him for his snooty attitude, accent, and his wussy behavior. He is… eaten by the snake? It’s not made very clear.

Professor Steven Cale: Eric Stoltz! He’s Terri’s love interest and the brains of this whole operation. Most of the film he is in a semi-coma due to a sting from a poisonous wasp and as such, he provides little to this film but manages to survive it.

Paul Sarone: Jon Voight! Man, his accent is worst than Warren’s and he also has one perverted looking smile. He is a snake hunter who hijacks the ship and its crew for his snake hunting expedition. He knows tons about the rain forest and is pretty badass. He gets swallowed whole by a snake and then spit out, dying due to being crushed earlier.

Anaconda: It is a large, gigantic (I say about over 40 ft) long snake that has large appetite and, unlike other snakes, has hearing abilities. Fascinating! I’m not sure if there is more than one snake in this film, because at one time, the snake takes a couple of shots to the head and then later, it has no visible wounds. Anyways, after being blown up and set on fire, Danny finishes the thing off with a few chops to its head with an axe.

LESSONS LEARNED
+ There is always time to practice your golf swing.
+ You always need to be prepared, so have a couple of sticks of dynamites on you.
+ Shoes will remain dry despite walking through chest high water.
+ Monkeys can be used as anaconda bait.
+ Anacondas can shriek like birds.
+ Anacondas’ digestive systems can work through an entire human being in less than a day.
+ Anacondas crap ash after eating a human.
+ Anacondas wounds heal extremely quickly.
+ Explosions kill everything but anacondas.

STUFF TO WATCH FOR
4 min – Can’t blame the guy. Who wants to be devoured alive by a snake?
9 min 4 sec – FREEZE FRAME! Just how wide is this river?!
15 min – I'm watching this film to see a snake kill some people, not to see some cheesy romance.
20 min – No, Kari, no! You can do so much better!
25 min 11 sec – FREEZE FRAME! What the hell kind of look is that?
28 min – There is a choice! You have the choice to ignore his suggestion, you idiot.
30 min – Ecological balance?! That’s just a random wooden gate people built.
32 min – RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST BARRELS!
38 min – HOLD IT! His sneakers are dry!! He was walking through the water moments ago!
46 min – Killing a monkey, that’s what this film needed.
52 min – Gees, does this normally happen during snake hunting?
59 min – RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A WINDOW!
64 min – Leeches? You were never in the water!
67 min – Hey! Flashbacks to Jurassic Park 2 all of a sudden!
69 min – This thing is just getting greedy.
75 min – Wha? I can’t understand you.
78 min – There’s an image I can do without.
79 min – You're kidding me? Those small boas wouldn’t scare me after all that.
81 min – Well that was fake and also RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A SMOKESTACK!
82 min – WHAT?! Why won’t you die?!
83 min – Screw him! He’s been out of it the whole movie! Go with Ice Cube!

NOTABLE QUOTES
Gary: Is it just me or does the jungle make you really, really horny?

Gary: There's something down there.
Paul Sarone: I know.
Gary: No, I really MEAN it.
Paul Sarone: I really mean it, too.

Danny: That's it, man. I'm getting the hell back to L.A...

THE PLOT
I’m surprised I haven’t ever watched a killer snake movie up until now. I have watched tons of other killer creatures’ films, even killer frogs! How have I missed this creature for so long now? Who knows, but it’s about time I looked at this film. Premiering back in 1997, Anaconda would end up causing tons and tons of snake movies to follow in its footsteps… or whatever a snake leaves behind. So let’s thank this movie for all that and begin our feature presentation.

After some brief text about how dangerous anacondas are, we turn ourselves to the Amazon Basin, where a mysterious creature (the anaconda no doubt), that is never shown, attacks some random dude on his boat. The panicky guy flees to the top of the mask in panic and then there, he shoots himself in the head. Well… alright then.

Cut away to some hotel in the middle of the rain forest where we find Terri Flores and her crew planning out their search for a lost Amazon tribe. She and her crew get a boat and start their adventure down or up the Amazon River. Along the way, a tropical storm (seriously, it has to be one) hits and they pick up a stranger trapped due to the weather. The person is Paul Sarone, a person who seems to know about the tribe the film crew is looking for.

He explains he is a snake hunter and was looking for something when he got caught by the storm. He offers to take them to the native village where he last saw the people they were looking for. They stop for the night by a river bank, after following the path Sarone suggested, and the production manager, Denise Kalberg, and soundman, Gary Dixon, head off into the jungle to get sound recordings of the background.

While getting their recordings, the sounds of the jungle go silent. You know what means kiddies! Something big and bad is heading their way! Showing intelligence not found in these sorts of movies, the two of them run back for the boat. On the way there, Sarone shows up and shoots the beast. A bit later, it turns out that the thing was a wild boar. Psych!

The next day, their boat comes to a complete stop when the propeller gets jammed by one of the ropes from the boat. Professor Cale, who is in charge, jumps into the water to cut the rope. After he cuts the rope, somehow, he starts drowning/choking under the water in his dive suit and scuba tank. They pull him up onto the boat and discover that a poisonous wasp had crawled into his mouth and stung him. How the hell did that wasp get into his mouth?

Anyways, after some alarming first aid, Cale is bedridden and will remain this way for a good portion of the movie. So forget about him and let’s move to Sarone, who tells them to go down this river path in order to reach a hospital, which is the exact same path he suggested in the first place. Insert evil laugh here and then we move on to the crew discovering a random wall that had been built to the block the path down the river. Sarone blows it up with a stick of dynamite in his bag and they move on. Shouldn’t they find this suspicious that a random guy they found in the river has dynamite and other various deadly instruments on him?

Continuing up the river, they run into an abandon boat (The one from the beginning) and decide to raid it for fuel. Sarone, Danny Rich (the cameraman), and their boat’s captain head to the vessel and search it. Sarone discovers a large container of weapons and has Danny help him take it back to the boat. To save some time, apparently, the guy at the beginning of the film was a fellow snake hunter with Sarone and the boat captain is as well, so Sarone knew there would be weapons he could get from the boat.

So, Sarone and Danny are taking the container back, but the boat captain accidently falls of the vessel and into the water with a big splash. With that, the food bell rings for the large anaconda and it chows down on the captain. Sarone explains the situation to them about hunting the anaconda and how big it is. He then says the snake probably got the captain since he never showed up and that they should move on.

The next day, Sarone begins his hunting for the anaconda since it is so close and Gary decides to help him. Sarone now takes over the boat and has everyone help in his hunting expedition as well, despite everyone else not liking this. During the middle of the night, Sarone hooks the anaconda with his bait. The thing gets loose from the fishing line and attacks the people onboard, capturing Gary and dragging him into the water. Who knew snake hunting was this dangerous!

Fed up with this hunting, the remaining crew knocks out Sarone and ties him up, hoping they can get to safety by following the river. They continue down or up it and get caught on shallows. Danny, Terri, and another crew member, Warren Westridge, work on getting the boat free, while Denise keeps an eye on Sarone.

While they are working on getting free, Denise tries to kill Sarone with a knife, but using his free legs, he snaps her neck! Damn, you got to remember to tie people up better. Also, using the now available knife, he cuts himself free, just as the snake arrives. Danny and Terri get back into the boat, but the snake chases after Warren.

The creature gets him, but also knocks down a tree, which crashes conveniently into boat, sending everyone overboard. The snake then goes after Danny, but Terri scares it away by shooting it in the head 3 times. With the snake being dead, Sarone tries to kill Terri and Danny, but then Cale finally wakes up and stabs the guy with a snake tranquillizer dart. With him woozy, Danny knocks Sarone into the water.

Cale falls unconscious again and they put him back in bed. Danny and Terri continue down the river and stop outside of an abandon warehouse to check for fuel for their boat. Inside, Sarone shows up out of nowhere and knocks them out. He douses them in monkey blood (where did he get that?) and sets them up to use as bait for the anaconda. Doesn’t he remember that the snake bit the dust earlier… never mind.

The snake suddenly shows up out of nowhere and slithers towards our two characters. I would like to point out that this snake shows no signs of being shot in the head 3 times from before, so is this a new snake or what? Who cares, the snake attacks the two and Sarone uses this time to try to capture the beast. This fails and the snake goes after him, trapping him and then swallowing him whole. That thing has one hell of a mouth.

The snake then gives chase after Terri when she and Danny get free from their bounds. While chasing her, the snake spits out Sarone for some reason (Doesn’t like the taste of poachers I suppose) and then it gets trapped in the smokestack of the warehouse. Danny places some of the fuel barrels in the smokestack and lights them up, blowing up the anaconda. Good old explosions, what problem with a killer creature don’t they solve?

Well, I guess they can’t solve everything, because the damn thing is still alive and on fire! How many lives can a snake have anyways? However, the snake then sinks into the water, dead. With that said, they get some of the remaining fuel for their boat when, SOMEHOW, the snake resurrects and comes at them yet again! Really? I repeat, how many lives can a snake have anyways?!

With that said, Danny whacks the snake a couple of times with an axe and now it’s dead! For real this time! No fake outs! I question how being shot in the head, being blown up, and then set on fire will not kill a snake, but a few whacks with an axe will! Anyways, they get their fuel and continue on their way down the river. Cale wakes up again (He’s still alive in case you care) and then they run into the Amazon tribe they were looking for since the beginning. At this point, should they really care? Most of the film crew is dead and I’m pretty sure the studio would understand the situation of why you weren’t able to film anything.

Well that’s the movie and what a movie it was! I can say that this film wasn’t good, but wasn’t terrible either. It just doesn’t leave an impression on me before, during, or after the film ends. The acting was flat for most of the actors, the story was slow going, the action really didn’t kick in until 50 minutes into the film, and the effects of the snake were average at best. It was a neat mixture of CGI, real snake footage, and some puppetry, but a lot of the time it wasn’t convincing. It really only looked good during the very few night scenes.

The plus side to this film was that the cinematography and location of the film looked rather good. Even though there weren’t many locations outside of the boat, the scenery looked rather nice and convincing. The film was easy on the eyes and pleasant to look at. The story was also easy to follow and a few of the characters were cool in their own way. The film really isn’t that good in general, but it is certainly not dreadful as the sequels that would follow the film.  Worth a quick look if you are into killer snakes.

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