Anaconda (1997)

Anaconda (1997)

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Voight's new snakeskin neck warmer was a little on the tight side.
Voight’s new snakeskin neck warmer was a little on the tight side.

Twitter Plot Summary: Jon Voight does crazy as a giant snake targets a group of documentary filmmakers.

More often than not, you can’t go wrong with any film that features a giant snake. It guarantees that somebody will be eaten, that somebody else will probably be squeezed to death, and that at least one woman will have the snake slither past her and make her scream – because snakes are sexist. In one sense it’s a spiritual companion piece to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, which portrayed an existential journey up river in search of company man Kurtz. That is to say, Anaconda would be a companion piece to Heart of Darkness if the novella included a gurning Jon Voight and a giant snake picking off the crew one by one. Just imagine Apocalypse Now with added Jon Voight… scary thought.

Voight is in total pantomime villain mode as a Paraguayan snake hunter, pulling faces and drooling over Jennifer Lopez during his insane quest to capture a massive anaconda. You know, the snake of the title. The snake comes a close second to Voight in the extravagant overacting stakes, snarling and shrieking like a creature possessed and desperate to make the most of its limited screen time – because in reality snakes don’t make that type of noise. The mixture of CGI and animatronic are similar to the balance found in fellow creature feature Lake Placid, in that they are used very effectively. Whilst to the modern eye it’s easy to tell the difference between whether or not the snake was created in a computer or is an advanced puppet, it adds to the charm of the experience rather than detracting from it. Best to think of it along similar lines to Deep Blue Sea. That’s probably a fair number of people who will automatically decide to give this a miss – your loss.

Eric Stoltz clearly didn't read the script all the way through before accepting the part.
Eric Stoltz clearly didn’t read the script all the way through before accepting the part.

Eric Stoltz is the nearly man again as he at first seems to be the main character, but is soon sidelined and barely makes an appearance for the rest of the film. Apparently he learned nothing after his almost-starring role in the Back To The Future franchise. Still, at least he made an appearance in this one. It’s up to the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube and a much younger than expected Owen Wilson instead to carry the film, although as you may expect they are frequently outperformed by Jon Voight. In all cases, with the exception of Ice Cube, it’s hard to tell if they’re aware of how bad the film is or if are fully aware but are just going along with it. Ice Cube on the other hand gives the impression that he’s along for the ride and enjoying himself.

Moments of delicious gruesomeness join forces with the suspect performances, waterfalls run backwards because they clearly forgot to shoot the boat heading the other way up the river, and scientific inaccuracies abound. It’s not a film that will win any awards outside of the Razzies, but that doesn’t stop it from being ridiculously entertaining. Most of the plot is nonsense but it’s pure popcorn entertainment at its finest.

Score: 3/5

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