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Growing up in the 50's gave me the privilege of being one the last
generations of filmgoers to enjoy the Saturday afternoon double-feature
matinee experience at the neighborhood theatre. These double-features were
primarily low budget sci-fi/horror epics with slender threads of plot,
lovely damsels in distress (Beverly Garland, Barbara Rush), square-jawed
heroes (Peter Graves, Richard Carlson) and budget monsters from Mars, the
grave, melted icebergs, mad scientist's labs or atomic fallout. Well not
really. The monsters were usually guys in rubber suits (Creature From The
Black Lagoon, This Island Earth), or cheap trick photography (Tarantula,
Attack of the 50 Ft Woman), or `Mask and Glove' illusions (I Was A Teenage
Werewolf/Frankenstein, Monster On The Campus), or, if we were really lucky,
a Ray Harryhausen stop motion creation.
Needless to say this wasn't great cinema, but what it WAS, was great fun. Were you scared? Not really. Did you have the need for everything to be fact-based and believable? Of course not! You went to be entertained, to let your imagination merge with the sounds and images and have a good time, laughing or screaming. Could anyone really take the monster from `It Conquered The World' seriously, or wonder whether `The Creature From The Black Lagoon' was biologically possible or if it could anatomically deflower Julie Adams? Didn't matter. Instead, you let yourself meld into the film's world and travel along for the ride.
Thus whether you were on the obviously and badly animated `Angry Red Planet', or trapped with James Best on the island of dogs in make-up which were trying to pass for `The Killer Shrews', you surrendered to the magic.
My heart weeps for the post `Star Wars' filmgoers, these people weaned on special effects, the MTVers and video viewers who've had their imaginations and attention spans kidnapped and are told what to see and how to interpret it. I truly am sorry. You people missed a modern day, Grade B double feature, sci-fi/horror classic called `Anaconda'. And we hadn't seen one this good since `Alien'.
Being an intelligent man, I realize the futility of convincing the non-believers who can't draw from the needed background reservoir to understand, so I won't bother preaching this film's virtues or try to win you over by fact and argument. This, however, is what I will say
This is a brilliant re-creation of the lost art of the 1950's double-feature horror genre; not really a homage to, more the real thing. It's `Creature From The Black Lagoon', with a really cheesy computer animated snake in place of a guy in a really cheesy rubber suit. It's a Saturday afternoon classic for people who remember and understand them. Story is great, script is great, cinematography is great, direction is great, acting is great, the women beautiful and endangered, the heroes machismo and handsome, the monster phantasmagorical, and we get a bonus surprise by one of the greatest American actors, Jon Voight, doing a magnificent over-the-top, slimy, nasty, reprehensibly heartless villain, complete with a sly wink to the audience. His performance is the key to the film. He understood the film's intent and translated it to the screen for you. If it's in your realm of understanding and experience, you get it and are able to partake in this little slice of cinema heaven.
In 20 years, they'll be calling this a classic. I'm calling it one now.
There are two ways to see this film and rate it.
1: As a movie that turned out to be much worse than it intended to be. In which case it's obvious that an actor like Jon Voight would overact to try and make it look like it was intended to be "bad". The special f/x, intended or not, are done with computer animation and are, in that category, the worst i've seen yet. A snake that moves like a cartoon. If it was the movieproducers' intention to make a "bad" movie, they would have done better to use the old fashioned special f/x, with a rubber prop.
2:As a movie that was, indeed, intended to be a b-movie. However, since the director Luis Llosa previously only made "serious" action movies like "the Specialist" and "Sniper", i have to seriously doubt it was his intension to make a "tongue-in-cheek" movie. If it WAS his intention, he nearly succeeded in making a fun "bad" movie.
Personally, there were only two things in this movie i enjoyed: The voluptuous Jennifer Lopez, and the magnificently "bad" performance of Jon Voight, who with just the facial expressions brings a smile to your face.
An excellent movie. That's all to say about this movie. Excellent. It
contains some of the biggest names in entertainment(Jennifer 'J-Lo' Lopez,
Ice Cube, Jon Voight, and Eric Stoltz) and some actors and actresses going
from good to great, just good, or not good at all(Jonathan Hyde, Kari
Wuhrer, Owen Wilson, and Vincent Castellenatos). Plus there was the
appearence of Danny Trejo as the poacher. Even though the cast for this
movie isn't really big, it's good enough to make a good movie. Other
I found great with this movie are it's special effects and the characters
themselves. Jon Voight's character says funny things, even when he doesn't
mean to be funny, Ice Cube's character is just plain funny, and Jonathan
Hyde's character is hilarious. As I said, this movie is excellent, no
One more thing: Anybody who's anybody should see this movie. IT'S A GREAT MOVIE!!!!
This is not as bad as some people say it is. Generally, it's pretty
formulaic, but there are a few alterations on the monster movie
A crew making a documentary set sail down a tropical river, on their way losing their fuel and, you guessed it, bumping into a big snake. There are all the usual characters here: beautiful girl, villain, posh English bloke (there's always one!), working-class hero, etc. They gradually get picked off one-by-one - although guessing the next "victim" is so easy, it takes the fun out of it all.
There are a few oddities in the consistency of the plot. Most of the killing happen in the second half of the film with the first half devoted to boring sub-plots. Curiously, the customary "introduction shock" is not a snake death, but a suicide. We never really find out why this has happened - after all, there is still a lot of Jennifer Lopez to be shown - and this, I think, is one of the main problems with the film. Story lines are attempted but never completed and so the audience will never gain true satisfaction from the film.
Another interesting factor is Terri's boyfriend and his contribution to the story line. During a dive, he gets bitten and the crew manage to recover him. They save his life but he is still unconscious and remains so throughout most of the movie.
However, the weakest character of all is the snake. Sure, it's pretty ugly, but it will never be truly terrifying as the director doesn't play on our sense of fear. We may be surprised when the snake attacks but never truly shocked.
As I said before, this isn't too bad a movie (I've seen worse) - there are some moments of tension, the actors do their jobs and the special effects are far from laughable. You might want to watch this if it's shown of TV, but I wouldn't pay money to see it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Llosa's 'Anaconda' is one of the most artistically crafted films of recent times (NOT!). The story is beautifully subtle. Basically, it's about a group of filmmakers or whatever trying to make a film in the fake rainforest but they encounter an unexpected visitor who takes them towards danger (how shocking!). Of course it's nice to see a snake movie that's carried by a heroine and a villainess (played by a snake). Moreover it's the voluptuous Jennifer Lopez! It's obvious that she's very happy to play the heroine and very excited to battle a snake. The 'hero' played by Eric Stoltz, spends most of his screen time sleeping. He only takes a momentary break from his REM sleep when the heroine is in trouble for one minute, otherwise she can handle herself. Ice Cube plays the cool black guy which seems to be a necessary ingredient in such movies. Of course he doesn't die because he's too cool. Thankfully Owen Wilson does not get decapitated like what happened in 'The Haunting'. Instead, he ends up getting gobbled up. Kari Wuhrer is the potential lonely hot chick who allows the camera to focus on her endowments (which, to one's disappointment, she doesn't fully show) and of course she's killed off. Then there's John Voight as typical greedy villain, the unexpected visitor. While all the actors give almost Oscar worthy performance, it is Suzie (I hope I got the name correct) the digital snake that steals the show. This actress (assuming that it's a female since she so lustfully gobbled up Owen Wilson and throws up John Voight because he's comparatively old and unattractive) gives one of the most nuanced performances. She downplays her part so well that one really has to look hard to find a registered expression on her face and the talented Suzie just gets it all right by hissing, slithering, showing off her tongue, throwing up and lustfully swallowing just on time. Lopez could have learned a thing or two about method acting and staying in character from her mega-talented co-star. It's sad that Suzie dies in the movie because I actually wanted her to win (sorry JLo). It's also a pity that Oscars don't award digital actresses because Suzie truly gave one of the finest performances. Shame on the Oscars for not noticing this gem! People should have spoken up for her. Anyway, to sum it up, 'Anaconda' is a cheeesy (unintentional comedic) horror/thriller wannabe. Yeah, it's a crappy movie.
It's a stupid B-Movie with enough quality to fly by, and enough camp charm to get away with such cinematic crimes. The cast play it straight, apart from Voight. I'm pretty sure he was drunk during the shooting, coming out with an inexplicable accent and a look reminiscent of Hannibal Lecter. It's ridiculous fun, with hokey CGI and animatronics. The animatronics are great and make me miss the 90s. It's a big snake shaped tube and goes from slow robotic motions, to super fast CGI. Cube and Hyde manage some, at times, adorable dialogue. Voight's presence also unites the rest of the cast, and each character gets their own heroic captain moment. Fun filled and just plain bad. I loved it.
Before there was "Snakes on a Plane," there was "Anaconda," a Hollywood
B-movie from the late 90's that is as notorious for its mixed bag of
actors as it is for the gruesome snakes that populate its plot. In the
film, a group of documentary film-makers traveling through the Amazon
jungle picks up a mysterious man who inadvertently becomes their
tour-guide on an unexpected detour. It seems the man is totally crazy
and intends to capture one of the Amazon's most notorious and deadliest
inhabitants: The Anaconda.
Despite some bad looking CGI-snakes (not bad in a good way) and a horribly mis-matched cast (J-Lo and Eric Stolz? Really?) "Anaconda" is simply a good, dumb time. Without a doubt, it's an utterly ridiculous film that can be insulting to your intelligence, but thankfully it knows not to overstay its welcome and the 90 minutes it takes up makes for a harmless and amusing ride. Ice Cube plays Ice Cube as he always does, while J-Lo turns in one of her more likable roles. You'll also catch Owen Wilson in one of his earliest roles, and John Voight is a pleasure to watch as he eats up the scenery. But face it, this movie is about snakes, and the titular character is the true star here. Surely, the actors on hand have done much worse, and as far as horror/b-movies about snakes, you could pick up much worse yourself. If you enjoy watching giant snakes (who inexplicably scream) stalk rappers, pop-stars and Angelina Jolie's dad, this is the flick for you. Those seeking genuine thrills, however, may find the film coming up a bit short.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In this adventure thriller, a documentary film maker & his crew are
attacked by a very mean & very large, laughably fake looking, CGI
monster/Anaconda out in the middle of nowhere & the remaining crew must
figure out how to stop it. I remember how excited I was to see this
movie, especially when I saw the commercial for it on TV, it looked
really good, however once I saw it on video, I was majorly
disappointed, (Well actually I was bored, but I don't want to get into
that here) instead of seeing a truly scary or thrilling
Adventure/Horror film, I wound up seeing a really boring B movie
dressed to look like an A level Hollywood production, so it could get
into theaters, now I have seen my fare share of B movies & I just love
them (The good ones anyways) simply because they were made with only
half the budget of an over blown Hollywood production & usually turn
out to be better than their big budget counter parts, sadly ANACONDA
did not fall into this category, while I will give this film credit for
the good acting, good directing & writing it sadly lacked, there was
not one single suspenseful scene in this movie, the kills were fake
looking & you never once believe that the Anaconda monster appears in
the same frame with them, better than PYTHON 1 & 2, but it's really no
different than they were, they were bad B movies that did not receive a
theatrical run like this one. Like I said before, this is a B movie
dressed to look A level, save you're money & rent something else &
speaking of money, where on earth did the budget go for this movie? all
there is, is one shed, a boat & loads of water in the picture, it could
not have went into special effects & wardrobe that's for sure! Followed
by the much better, in name only sequel, ANACONDAS: HUNT FOR THE BLOOD
It's a worrying sign that the first 60 seconds of a 90 minute film
feels the need to 'serious up' the tone by running a lengthy blurb that
effectively says 'big snakes are big and dangerous'.
Ummmmm. Duh. Now bring on the killer legless lizards! Featuring a cast that is not so much 'good' as 'recognisable' Anaconda thankfully then gets down to the business of being an enjoyably inane flick with B actors wrestling fake snakes and being thrown around by big CGI effects.
The threadbare plot has a doco crew traveling the largely unexplored tributaries of the Amazon searching for a long lost tribe of primitive South Americans who legend has it are protected by giant snakes.
After a few hiccups in the mission they pick up supposedly 'Paraguayan' snake hunter played by Jon Voight in a hammy performance to rival that of Tim Curry in Congo. He leads the boat on a snaky ahem 'sneaky' shortcut that should save all involved time. Now the fun starts.
From this point on there is little for the cast to do but look alternately scared and suspicious in between running around like white mice. The talentless J Lo looks suitably lost and confused no surprises there and Eric Stoltz is laid up injured for half the film while Owen Wilson hones his shaggy locked surfer boy thing that has since made him a wealthy man.
Ice Cube gets the worst wardrobe and the best lines, and I dare you not to chuckle when they show introduce 'snake stomach' cam near the end of the film.
While you might be laughing or gasping about ½ the time with and the other ½ in spite of the goings on, I guess one way or the other at least you're laughing.
Final Rating 5 / 10. Anaconda was released during a spate of creepy crawly based movies in the 90s, it won't blow you away but it was by no means the worst of the bunch and it spawned the usual sucky sequels.
I didn't truly start enjoying Anaconda until the final forty minutes of
the film. Then once I saw those minutes, I began to enjoy most of the
film. It's difficult to do a creature feature well, and I think the
film is being unintentionally funny a lot of the time. Especially when
the actors it's boasting are Jennifer Lopez and Ice Cube. There's
almost more to laugh at than be scared of.
I have no problem at all with Lopez and Ice Cube. I haven't seen a lot of Jennifer Lopez's work, and I adore Ice Cube in pretty much everything he's in. He's one of those actors where if he's in a bad movie he himself isn't bad the movie, the directing, the screenplay, or whatever setback is bad. I'm just saying that when you see those two playing a couple in a horror film it's hard to take it seriously. Thankfully - they're not the reason this film isn't perfect.
The story revolves around a documentary crew, Terri (Lopez), Danny (Cube), Denise (Kari), Gary (Wilson), Warren (Hyde), and Steven (Stoltz), that venture out into the jungle hoping to garner footage of a rare tribe called "Shirishama." While traveling on the Amazon River, the crew finds a stranded boater named Sarone (Voight) who knows about the tribe, but acts very unsettling throughout most of the first half.
Turns out that Sarone is searching for an anaconda, and is hoping to catch one alive in order to obtain a very large sum of money. He gets the whole crew involved, and doesn't really care who lives or who dies. The thought of being out in the middle of the jungle is creepy - yet it proposes a good campy quality Anaconda hits a high note with.
Background scenery is pushed to the foreground here. We get beautiful shots of swamps (yes, swamps), incredible angles of trees, and even some very eerie and suspenseful underwater shots. Director Luis Llosa explores every possible angle of the setting so that not only is this a creepy B movie, but a stylish one as well.
When it comes to the snake - the film begins to lose some of its redeeming qualities. There is a scene where very many snakes flood the boat. Unable to distinguish real from fake due to the small stature of the beasts, my only guess is that they were in fact real. When the anaconda makes his first appearance, it looks undeniably animatronic and the CGI used when the beast swallows its first prey is pathetic. Anaconda was made with a budget over $40 million, so this snake's execution is one of two things (1) maybe the hefty budget didn't get them very far after all, or (2, the much plausible explanation) it was supposed to look cheap and fake to give a nod to old creature-features we would've seen Saturday at 10:30pm on Svengoolie.
Jon Voight is probably the highest point in the film. His unsettling approach to the crew rubs off on the audience almost making them a little scared as well. His face alone reminds me of Gary Busey on a bad day, or Nick Nolte after one too many. The other members of the documentary crew, like Ice Cube and Owen Wilson, are severely underused, and but their presence is enough for personal satisfaction.
The final scene where its two on one with the anaconda is great popcorn fun, and after the film you feel you've spent an hour and a half back in time. Unfortunately, Anaconda was blown out of proportion once the sequel came. After the first two theatrical films were released, the name and story became a Syfy franchise. Currently, in 2011, we have four Anaconda films including this one. I'm sure in five years we'll have two more to go along with it. The bad thing about a good B movie idea is it can be abused with a single sequel.
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Jon Voight, Eric Stoltz, Owen Wilson, Jonathan Hyde, and Kari Wuhrer. Directed by: Luis Llosa.
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