In New York, the ambitious Dr. Jack Byron and his associate Gordon Mitchell present the research of his assistant Sam Rogers to the CEO and board of directors of a corporation to sponsor a scientific expedition to Borneo. The objective is to find a flower, Blood Orchid, that flourishes for a couple of weeks every seven years and could be a fountain of youth, prolonging the expectation of life of human beings. They are succeeded and once in Borneo, they realize that it is the raining season and there is no boat available to navigate on the river. They pay US$ 50,000.00 to convince Captain Bill Johnson and his partner Tran to sail to the location. After an accident in a waterfall, the survivors realize that a pack of anacondas have gathered for mating and their nest is nearby the plantation of Blood Orchid, which made them bigger and bigger. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Series note: Although this is the second film in the Anaconda series, there is no need to watch the films in order. They are merely thematic companions, sharing some similarities of plot and structure. They are not constructed as chapters in a novel.
When it is discovered that an exotic flower found only in Borneo and blooming only every seven years may hold the key to life extension, a large pharmaceutical company sends a team of researchers to acquire samples for study. Making the task thornier, the samples must be obtained while the plant is in bloom, and as the film begins, it will only be in bloom a few more weeks. In increasing layers of difficulty, it's rainy season in Borneo and only Bill Johnson (Johnny Messner) is crazy enough to take the team upriver in his ramshackle boat before the season ends, despite the fact that they're offering $50,000, and as they make their way upstream, of course the team runs into giant anacondas of the type found in the first film.
Like Anaconda, Anacondas has been getting a fairly bad rap and I can't quite figure out why. Sure, some people have complained about inaccuracies in the films when compared to facts in the actual world, but seriously, what's wrong with anyone who'd expect fictional films like Anacondas to be educational or largely a documentary? The films are basically monster flicks, with the degree of predictability that usually entails, but what would one be expecting otherwise? Both films are certainly internally consistent, with captivating stories, fine performances and well executed technical aspects--directing, editing, production design, cinematography (particularly beautiful in this entry, and the Fijian landscapes are often breathtaking), and so on.
And in fact, Anacondas has much more than just competent artistry. From the first frames to the last, this is one heck of a thrill ride, with plot twists and turns around every corner mimicking the river and the coils of the titular beast. It has basically nonstop suspense, it cleverly incorporates horror elements from psycho humans to haunted houses (the caves and the village they come across near the climax are basically haunted houses in structure and tone). A number of sequences will stick in your mind for a long time, such as the intense waterfall scene and the great "wading" scene. There are also poignant subtexts about materialism and the desire to be immortal versus emotional and pragmatic concern for fellow humans. The new writing team even manages to insert thought-provoking dilemmas related to utilitarianism.
There are a number of interesting parallels to Anaconda (1997), with an equally interesting and capable motley crew of characters played by a skilled cast. It may be a different locale, but the gist is still an Apocalypse Now (1979)-styled trip up a river where the complexly interacting crew must encounter and overcome various obstacles, not the least of which are members of their own group, including initially veiled villains who are as much of a snake as the more literal, reptilian villains.
Director Dwight H. Little also gives us an amusing alternate world take on Anaconda's Paul Sarone (inimitably performed in that film by Jon Voight) in Anacondas' short lived John Livingston (Andy Anderson), whose name ties us in to famed 19th Century African explorer David Livingstone, and the many filmic depictions of the same, including The Lost Jungle (1934) and Stanley and Livingstone (1939). That's not the only references to classics, as Bill Johnson's boat, "The Bloody Mary", a character in its own right, has stylistic similarities to Charlie Allnut's African Queen (from the 1951 film of the same name) and the overall journey has resemblances to Disney's Jungle Cruise.
While the attack scenes may not be quite as clearly filmed and smoothly cut as the first film, Little and his editors make up for it by increasing the number and quality of gradually building suspense sequences where we see a snake through water or in other environments while our protagonists initially overlook them. The digital effects are probably better than the first film and the mechanical/animatronics effects are close in quality. In addition, Little incorporated many shots of real anacondas.
If you at all enjoyed the first film, you should enjoy this one, as well. It's important to watch films like Anacondas without inappropriate expectations. In my view, Little and crew have accomplished exactly what they set out to do--create an intense thrill-ride of a monster flick with touches of humor and deeper subtexts that's a worthy stylistic and thematic successor to the first film.
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