Sony // 2004 // 97 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // January 21st, 2005
Plural means terror!
Theme Song by Judge Patrick Naugle, hummed to the tune of "Gilligan's Island"
"Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale
A tale of a fateful trip
That started from a tropic port,
Aboard a run down ship
The mate was a mighty sailin' man
With stubble dark and true
A few passengers set sail that day
To find the blood orchid's bloom, the blood orchid's bloom.
The anacondas began to attack
The people were swallowed whole
If not for the courage of a few good mates
The hot girls would be lost, the hot girls would be lost.
The ship took ground on the shore of this dangerous jungle isle (Borneo!)
With the horny guy, the grungy Captain too,
A conniving scientist, and his assistant,
The ethnic first mate, the snotty hot girl and jokester, too
Here on 'Anaconda Isle.'"
Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid is a full-throttle B-movie that's running on only fumes. The original Anaconda was cheesy, predictable, and full of computer generated effects straight out of a second rate Playstation video game. It was also very entertaining, due mostly to the better-than-average cast of then up-and-coming talent, including booty shaker Jennifer "J-Lo" Lopez (The Wedding Planner), slacker Owen Wilson (Behind Enemy Lines), tough guy Ice Cube (Friday After Next), and veteran character actor/ Angelina Jolie's dad Jon Voight (Midnight Cowboy).
In Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid, we get a lot of new faces, but none of them much matter. The snakes have gotten slightly bigger, yet the effects are only slightly worse than the original film's. If you haven't guessed it by now, this tepid sequel is a notch down from the original, which itself was really a notch down from most monster movies. If you ask me, when you make a movie about giant sharks, snakes, or spiders, it should almost never be rated PG-13. Alas, Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid doesn't adhere to this rule and suffers because of it. Where's the gore? Where's the gross stuff? Sigh.
Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid, like its predecessor, is concerned about serving up good-looking actors as snake breakfast. Unfortunately, the talent here is about on par with a very good made-for-cable movie. The only familiar face is Morris Chestnut, an actor who has previously appeared in better movies, and will no doubt do so in the future. Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid feels like a weigh station for the actor to pay his rent and electric bills while looking for a movie with real depth and meaning. The rest of the cast is made up of attractive talent idling in mediocre writing. Hunk Johnny Messner plays a hard living boat captain with a voice that sounds as if he's been gargling bowls of gravel between meals. KaDee Strickland (The Grudge) and Salli Richardson (Biker Boyz) play the requisite babes who spend much of the film either A.) screaming, B.) swimming or C.) screaming and swimming while swimming from a screeching snake. The worst of the lot is Eugene Byrd (8 Mile) as one of the must annoying, hyperactive characters to grace the screen in a long time -- I was cheering for the snake to eat him, regurgitate him, then eat him again for good measure.
But you don't go to a movie called Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid for thespian merits. Most of you will be looking for big, slimy, man-eating snakes the size of an underwater pipeline. While there's some pretty mean-looking snakes in this movie, they're not nearly as fun as the original's enormous anaconda. They're big and slimy all right, but they just don't have the menace that makes a giant snake truly terrifying. Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid was shot on a smaller budget than the original film, and it often feels like it -- director Dwight Little (who also made the forgettable sequel Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers) shoots a lot of reaction shots, most of which come from a little screeching monkey that I was rooting to become snake poop.
When it's all said and done, Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid is a mostly forgettable time waster that is mildly entertaining at best. A few people are eaten and regurgitated by the snakes, and the women are pretty good looking. So, if the filmmakers were shooting for putting hot females and snake vomit on the screen, they did their job well. Otherwise, this monster movie is a well worn cliché without much pizzazz.
Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen. I can't say I am overly impressed with this transfer -- there were more than a few scenes that appeared murky and dark to my discerning eye. The colors are generally bright and bold (lots of browns and greens) while the black levels are sometimes sharply rendered. This transfer is passable, but a little sub-par considering Sony's work in the past. A full frame version of the film is also included on this disc, but who cares?
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in both English and French. I have to say that this sound mix is very good. There are many instances where the front and rear speakers are engaged fully with snake hissing and monkey cries coming from all six speakers. The music, dialogue, and effects are all in good shape without any hiss or distortion. Also included on this disc are English and French subtitles.
The extra features on Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid are, not surprisingly, minimal. The best is pretty short a making-of featurette that includes some info on the special effects, behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with director Dwight Little, actors Morris Chestnut and Salli Richardson, and others. Also included are a few brief deleted scenes presented in non-anamorphic widescreen, and previews for upcoming Sony films/DVDs.
Review content copyright © 2005 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.40:1 Anamorphic
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Making-Of Featurette
* Deleted Scenes
* Official Site