Back in 1997 Jennifer Lopez was just an actress, Owen Wilson was a just some no name blonde guy, and Jon Voight saturated the silver screen post Mission: Impossible. At that time all three entities converged on one project, Anaconda, as it was dumped in theatres in early April and took in a global gross of less than $140 Million. To say a sequel was inevitable would be a stretch.
When top executives and scientists of a big time pharmaceutical company discover a wild flower holds the secret ingredient to prolonged youth, a crack team led by exec Gordon Mitchell (Morris Chestnut), sets out for the jungles of Borneo to track down “The Blood Orchid”. With the orchid only in bloom for the next week, the team must work their way quickly down the river to capture the flower so they can seek their immensely huge fortune. A series of bad events leave the crew stranded in the jungle in the middle of Anaconda mating season. One by one, as each of them becomes snake food, it is up to boat captain and ex-Army special forces operative Bill Johnson (Johnny Messner) to save them all from becoming prey to the participants of a reptilian gangbang.
Unlike the C-list cast of the B-movie that precedes it, Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid is chock-full of unknowns. Even though the horror genre caters to Hollywood up and comers it would have been nice to have a few familiar faces in this flick other than the bad guy from Half Past Dead and the dude who screwed over Eminem in 8 Mile. The one who does show some promise is Johnny Messner. He had forgettable bit parts in this year’s The Whole Ten Yards and Spartan, and here he is front and center as a psuedo bad ass.
The script is this flick’s downfall, complete with a confusing plot structure, characters that go nowhere, and dialogue that seems to have been written by a fifteen-year-old boy with attention deficit disorder. The film plays like it really has nothing to do with the first Anaconda. In the first it was a documentary film crew out to discover a lost South American tribe and then all hell breaks loose courtesy of a snake hunter. This chapter has greedy businessmen and women out to cash in on the fountain of youth market when nature gets in their way. Already you want them to fail. Where’s the sympathy? The only connection between the two movies, other than huge snakes, is a line of dialogue halfway into it; “I knew this one guy who made documentaries…”. If that line was cut, it would just be another unnatural real animal kills a fish out of water squad. Anacondas is a cheap cash in on a movie that went nowhere.
In seven years, special effects have evolved. Gone is the beady-eyed puppetry and disgustingly bad CG. Now it’s all CG...not bad, just highly obvious. The snakes are bigger, badder, and faster. If only we could see them. There were few clear shots of the colossal pythons, but for the most part all the snakes were just too damn dark. You can barely see any detail. When they do appear in daylight they strike so fast that if you blink you’d miss the kill. Anaconda had more visible shots of anacondas then Anacondas. How does that work?
Like it’s previous episode, Anacondas was dumped; this time at the ass end of summer. Seven years is a long time between sequels, a theatrical release might have been more appropriate four years ago but now it just seems odd. Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid is the kind of sequel that should have gone directly to DVD shelves. This weekend, just skip it. Wait a couple months and see it on the medium it deserves to be on, because theatrically it just doesn’t work.