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  • Anaconda
    • Anaconda
    • Runtime:89 min
    • Release Date:2017-01-23 12:01:45
    • Director: Luis Llosa
    • Genres: Adventure, Thriller
    • Studio:


I hadn't seen "Anaconda" in a very long time before yesterday. If
memory serves me right, at least six years had passed since I last
visited this slick, fast-moving, and low-key creature feature. Despite
the fact that I can be quite critical on many pictures – pictures that
are vastly more intelligent and well-produced than this one – I am a
sucker for creature features. Have been ever since I was a kid. Thus,
"Anaconda" worked for me as a kid. And now, having revisited it, my
response would not be sincere if I claimed it still did not work for
the exact same principles that it did six years ago.

"Anaconda" is a movie not concerned about plot or story. It's primary
concern is placing a half-dozen one-dimensional characters in the
middle of the Amazon jungle, run across a deranged bounty hunter played
by Jon Voight, and do battle with a 40-foot-long, computer graphic
snake. The movie spends the minimal amount of time necessary setting up
the would-be story, whipping through that quickly instead of dawdling
on dialogue that, given the nature of this film, would be a destined
bore, and cutting to the chase. It establishes that they are stranded,
that Voight is a sicko, and that there's a man-eating snake.

The movie's top-billed star is Jennifer Lopez (good performance here)
but the two real stars are Jon Voight and the snake. The latter is
well-realized using animatronics and some slick computer graphics.
Initially, some of the snake scenes are hokey and the fact that it's
just a pixel-covered 3D model painted on the screen is obvious, but
they do get better as the movie goes along. After a while, the snake
scenes become quite interesting, imaginative, and above all, exciting.
There's not a single moment with the snake that actually scared me, but
none of them made me sigh with boredom, either. The snake is
well-realized and it's really cool to see it coiling around ladders as
it chases after people and catch a jumping person in midair. The fact
that real anacondas neither grow this big nor behave this predatory
means nothing.

In regards to Jon Voight, I think this is a much overlooked
performance. There's a tendency in these pictures to rip-off Robert
Shaw's marvelous performance in "Jaws" the movie that set the
foundation for every creature feature since 1975. But Voight does not.
He sort of reinvents the idea of a subhuman, big-game hunter. And it
takes skill to take dialogue and situations that are hilariously corny
on paper and make them work on camera. Voight does it. He's funny when
he needs to be, he's slick elsewhere, and he's interesting just like
the snake.

The supporting cast includes Ice Cube, Owen Wilson, Eric Stoltz,
Jonathan Hyde, Kari Wuhler, Vincent Castellanos, and Danny Trejo, all
of whom play their roles mechanically under the guidelines that this is
a mechanical plot with mechanical characters. So that is not a
detractor in regards to them. In particular, Ice Cube and Jonathan Hyde
have very strong screen presences and keep the brief snake-free moments
interesting. And I will repeat my previous statement that Jennifer
Lopez is in fine form here and in more terms than just her physical
beauty, which fits nicely with the beautifully-photographed

Given the movie's reputation, I was expecting to be bored watching
"Anaconda" again for a second time. I figured having grown up and
coming to understand film and filmmaking better, I would have passed
this one creature feature off despite my love for the genre. But nope,
"Anaconda" still has a way of working on me and I must confess that I
had a good time watching it again.


You may think I tuned into this for Jennifer Lopez. Actually. it was a
Danny Trejo performance I missed, and I want to see all of them.

Lopez was, of course, icing on the cake. Her famous posterior really
was worth watching. I just wish she paused to belt out a couple of
Selena songs.

Jon Voight was another matter. As much as I dislike Owen Wilson, he was
positively Oscar worthy next to Voight and his terrible accent. Poor
Lopez. I would have rather wrestled the snake than kiss Voight.

Kari Wuhrer was easy on the eyes, and there was some spectacular action
at the end.

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