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movie review out of 4 Movie Review: Anaconda

Starring: Eric Stoltz, Jennifer Lopez
Director: Luis Llosa
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 92 Minutes
Release Date: April 1997
Genres: Action, Horror

Review by Andrew Hicks
2½ stars out of 4

ANACONDA is a horrible movie but a hell of a lot of fun. I have a feeling director Luis Llosa made it to be that way and so, after laughing at an overacting Jon Voight, an underacting Ice Cube and a fake-looking 40-foot long snake (which looks like it was computer generated on a Mac Classic), I'm giving ANACONDA a thumbs- almost-up.

It's constructed like a disaster movie, with a big cast of caricatures who will be in constant danger, fatal for most of them. There are also a string score, endless p.o.v. shots from the snake and even a few fake scares. None of this is original, but there are a lot of cheesy moments to make it a self-aware bad movie -- Ice Cube listening to his own music, a character saying "The jungle is making me horny" and a memorable and almost frightening waterfall attack scene.

The movie begins as a film crew boards an Amazon boat. The plan is to make a documentary on a lost tribe, with Jennifer "Selena" Lopez the director, Ice Cube (that perpetual scowl still on his face) the cameraman, Jonathan Hyde the snooty TV host, Eric Stoltz the expert on Amazon tribes, Owen Wilson the sound guy, Kari Wuhrer as Secretary of Cleavage, and Vincent Castellanos the ship captain. Two will live to see the end credits, and it's not much of a mystery who.

Voight soon hops aboard, after the crew members spot him stranded on his broken-down boat. From the beginning, his Spanish accent betrays him as the Man To Watch Out For, and when he talks of his love of anaconda hunting, there might as well be a flashing subtitle reading "Foreshadowing!" Indeed, within a few scenes, Stoltz is put out of commission when he goes scuba diving and some giant wasp gets stuck in his throat (which should serve as a lesson -- when you're scuba diving, never use a wasp hive as your oxygen mask) and they have to rush him to medical help, which will take a few days. Voight purposefully points them down a river path that is infested with those damn 40-foot snakes.

The disaster springs from there, and when you're up against anacondas that big, it pretty much has to. The crew members start to get picked off, the least important ones first. There are plenty of scenes with the giant snakes wrapping around their prey and devouring them, and the pre-credits notation that anacondas regurgitate their prey to hunt and kill them again turns out to be no lie. The last 30 minutes of ANACONDA are the best 30, although the movie's IQ never rises to the three-digit level. If you think you can enjoy a laughable, mindless movie about giant killer snakes, well, here you go.

Copyright 1997 Andrew Hicks

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