When I admitted to a friend that I yet to see the original Anaconda, he assured me that it was a hoot. After all, where else can you see Jon Voight eaten by a gigantic snake and then vomited back out? Well, aside from Coming Home?
If the sequel had one scene like that, then, I would have left the theater a happy camper. However, Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid does not. That is a big problem.
A crew, consisting mainly of research scientists and other brainiacs, makes its way to Borneo in the hopes of finding the rare blood orchid. The leader of the group, Gordon (Morris Chestnut, this time keeping his shirt on) wants to make the "pharmaceutical equivalent of the fountain of youth" from the powerful flower.
Of course, the trip is doomed. It's rainy season in Borneo, so the going on the rivers is rough, time is tight (the flower only blooms for a short period of time every seven years) and its mating season for the anacondas. The intrepid crew finds itself in the middle of the snakes' dinnertime after its boat plummets down a waterfall and shatters like a dinner plate. The men and women survive, but their numbers start to dwindle as the anacondas start biting and greed consumes one member of the party.
Audience members will most likely be consumed by boredom. Director Dwight H. Little (Marked for Death, Murder at 1600) decides to direct seriously. He doesn't play up the snake as a fright figure -- we rarely see its viciousness. The snakes lurk underwater, chase the characters through the dark, but we rarely see their blood-drenched fangs or awesome killing capabilities. Nobody gets chomped or spit out. Instead, we hear about their digestion capabilities and their mating rituals. I would hate to think that Voight died in vain.
Anacondas needs violence and camp appeal, especially because the movie's four screenwriters offer us no one to relate to, no one whose fear we can feel through the screen. We have the naïve and comely blonde, the stuffy scientist, the overtly hip-hop-influenced computer geek (the annoying as jock itch, yammering Eugene Byrd), and the verbally sparring couple out of TV's Moonlighting. The casting is ridiculous. The women look fantastic, the kind for whom Victoria's Secret was created for; the men look as if they can bench press small automobiles. Who knew the science field was so jam-packed with beautiful people?
The movie does deliver upon the promises offered in its title, and little else. Those looking for more entertainment value for their dollar should see The Manchurian Candidate. Jon Voight also meets an untimely, ghastly demise here, but Jonathan Demme's remake is relevant, thrilling and perfectly cast; all things that Anacondas is not.
They're all out of espresso!