Anacondas: The Hunt For The Blood Orchid (2004)

Anacondas: The Hunt For The Blood Orchid (2004)

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Only one of these weapons would be truly effective against a snake.
Only one of these weapons would be truly effective against a snake.

Twitter Plot Summary: More people head out into the jungle looking for a rare orchid that can extend human lifespans.

The movie business has never been one for letting things lie, more than happy to churn out unnecessary sequels to once-popular (or deemed popular) films, often many years after the original and after all of the publicity has faded. Whilst Anacondas: The Hunt For The Blood Orchid isn’t too badly timed coming seven years after the original (and no doubt titled to cash in on the Alien/Aliens naming convention), it proves to be a much less entertaining experience than the mostly bonkers original.

Bill Johnson is the obligatory Han Solo-type character who hires out his boat to group of scientists and business bigwigs who are searching for a rare orchid that could extend people’s lives. Unbeknownst to them, their journey will be assaulted by not just one but a number of large anaconda snakes. More importantly, their journey will be affected by human greed and desire for money. In other words, just like the first movie.

Where does Anacondas fail when Anaconda (kind of) succeeded? It has all of the same story beats as the first film – group of explorers out in the jungle, human characters intent on making sure the others don’t make it out alive, and some impressive snake-related violence. Tonally it’s uncertain of itself, one moment embracing the insanity of Jon Voight, the next attempting to be deadly serious. When done correctly this can lead to quite an entertaining film, but in this case it never manages to find the right balance which results in it flip-flopping between the two with reckless abandon. The villain too, in the form of Matthew Marsden, former soap star and latterly action movie regular, is much more down to earth, less outwardly evil and, dare it be said, a more realistic prospect than Jon Voight. This doesn’t necessarily mean he’s much fun to watch though, content with staring moodily into the middle distance instead of glaring menacingly at people. Still, he stands out a little more than most of the cast – some spirited performances from Salli Richardson-Whitfield and Morris Chestnut, the other bigger names in a cast of relative unknowns, go some way to alleviate the rehashed story.

The snake was surprised to find he'd won the hide and seek competition.
The snake was surprised to find he’d won the hide and seek competition.

It seems that just having some large snakes killing people isn’t enough, as attempts are made to explain why the snakes are so large – it’s all down to that blood orchid the expedition are searching for. As explanations go it’s hardly necessary yet almost seems an obligatory move at the sequel stage. Still, at least the group’s reason for being in the jungle in the first place is more clearly defined than Eric Stoltz and Jennifer Lopez’s group, that’s one good aspect in its favour.

Is Anacondas worth watching? If you liked the first one then possibly. Much of it depends on if you want to see the same story played out slightly differently, with different actors and seven years worth of improvements in CGI technology. If these circumstances tick the right boxes for you then fill your boots, but it can’t be said to be a good film, merely a competent one.

Score: 2.5/5

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