Published Sep 01, 2004In the "creatures eating humans" genre, familiar faces are the only way to make a poor film work. Take the Jaws sequels for instance. Jaws 2 is far worse than its predecessor, but it is still an exciting flick because they secured Roy Scheider. Jaws 3-D is pretty bad though, and Jaws: The Revenge is one of the most unrealistic films ever, but still Louis Gossett Jr. (right after an Oscar winning performance in An Officer And A Gentleman) and Michael Caine glossed up the names on the posters. Anacondas: The Hunt For The Blood Orchid could learn a lesson from these past films. If you're not going to beef up a predictably poor film with celebrities, the boat's not going to float.
1997's Anaconda certainly took this into consideration, dumping J-Lo, Owen Wilson, Eric Stoltz, Ice Cube and Jon Voight (who knew he was Mexican?) into a hissy predicament. While the film was laughable at times, it was given a boost with some familiar faces and a plausible story, minus the giant anaconda that hunted down humans of course (they don't really act that way, y' know). Anacondas, on the other hand, cannot be saved.
From the moment it begins, it fails to make even the slightest effort to be different. The storyline is predictable and far-fetched: a group of scientists travel to an exotic location to find a rare plant that can prolong human life. ("It's bigger than Viagra"). Little do these brainless characters know, the jungles of Borneo have dangerous creatures like crocodiles, spiders and yes, 3,000 foot anacondas that can swallow a human like a spoonful of Pepto Bismol.
The clichés on the other hand, are difficult to swallow. The "finding a cure" story is very similar to the horrible Deep Blue Sea (different killer beast and science experiment though) and features plot-driven devices such as the typical battle for alpha male, sexual tension that turns into hot sex and the token black character that delivers the humorous one-liners (with Eugene Byrd doing a wimpy Ice Cube/LL Cool J here).
Was it really that difficult to call up a hurting star like a Gossett Jr. or even say, Danny Glover, to see if they could swing their celebrity to save yet another abysmal horror film? As a matter of fact, what the hell has J-Lo been up to? This could have been her post-Gigli saving grace. (Columbia/Sony)