Directed by Dwight Little
Produced by Verna Harrah
Written by John Claflin & Daniel Zelman and Michael Miner & Ed Neumeier
Director of Photograpy Stephen F. Windon
Music by Nerida Tyson-Chew
Cast: Johnny Messner, KaDee Strickland, Morris Chestnut, Matthew Marsden & Salli Richardson-Whitfield

2004/97 mins/Color/5.1 DD
2.40:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1

Review from the Columbia/Tri-Star Home Entertainment DVD

Although I often fail at the task, I try not to be a movie snob and keep an open mind when I watch a new film. This is especially difficult when it comes to viewing a sequel to a film that I didn't like. If I didn't like the original, why should I give the sequel a chance? While I have been pleasantly surprised by sequels in the past (NIGHT OF THE DEMONS 2 and THE SANTA CLAUSE 2 come to mind...and also show a diverse taste in movies), I didn't have very high hopes for ANACONDAS: THE HUNT FOR THE BLOOD ORCHID, as 1997's ANACONDA holds the distinction for being the only movie that I've ever walked out of. Still, I had to give ANACONDAS a chance.

ANACONDAS is a sequel in name only to ANACONDA and save for the titular creature, shares little with the original movie...oh, except for the fact that they both have the same plot. As the film opens, businessman Gordon Mitchell (Morris Chestnut) and his scientist partner Dr. Jack Byron (Matthew Marsden) make a pitch to a pharmaceutical company. They claim that a rare flower, the Blood Orchid, found only in Borneo, has the properties to extend human life. The company agrees to finance an expedition to find the plant. Mitchell and Byron are soon joined in Borneo by company rep Gail Stern (Salli Richardson-Whitfield), research assistant Sam Rogers (KaDee Strickland), medical doctor Ben Douglas (Nicholas Gonzalez) and technician Cole Burris (Eugene Byrd). After having trouble chartering a boat, the group finds themselves aboard the questionable "Bloody Mary" with its captain Bill Johnson (Johnny Messner) and his first mate Tran (Karl Yune). Unfortunately, it's the rainy season, and the swollen river soon causes the boat to crash. Stranded in the jungle, the group finds themselves battling not only the elements, but a group of giant snakes who live in the jungle.

My favorite line from JURASSIC PARK is "Are there going to be any dinosaurs on your dinosaur tour?" Replace "dinosaur" with "anaconda" in that sentence and you'll get an idea of what we're dealing with in ANACONDAS. Many sequels, such as ALIENS or DAWN OF THE DEAD, attempt to outdo their predecessor by simply being bigger and bringing the audience more of what made the first film great. The opposite is true in ANACONDAS. While the film lives up to its title by having more than one anaconda (which the first film had as well), the creatures are rarely in the film and honestly have very little to do with the story. This is first and foremost a jungle adventure film, as the group must try and fight their way back to civilization. There is also a subplot concerning some conniving and backstabbing going on within the group. The fact that ANACONDAS' four writers had to resort to a "man's inhumanity towards man" subplot in the middle of their snake movie shows either the lack of creativity on their part, or the low-budget nature of the film, as it would be too costly to actually have the anacondas star in the film. Due to the lack of snakes in the film, the movie is pretty tame, save for one shot of a body hanging out of a dead snake, which certainly pushes the PG-13 boundary.

While ANACONDAS doesn't have the recognizable faces which inhabited ANACONDA, the cast is still game and does what they can with the material. Messner is notable as the mysterious captain who shows his true colors as the film progresses. However, no actor could make the film's lame story work. In short, the movie is simply boring. Much of the first 30 minutes involves watching the boat float on the river. Once the accident takes place, we get to watch the survivors wander the jungle. While watching these repetitive scenes, I was hoping for a huge, snaky climax, which the film can't deliver. And while watching the film, any sane person will think, "There must have been an easier way to reach this flower." Personally, I can't feel sorry for the characters in the movie...they did wander into the anacondas neighborhood. Even as I'm writing this, I find it hard to believe that ANACONDAS: THE HUNT FOR THE BLOOD ORCHID is worse than the first film, but it is. For nature gone wild fun, the recent FRANKENFISH is much better choice.

ANACONDAS: THE HUNT FOR THE BLOOD ORCHID slithers onto DVD courtesy of Columbia/Tri-Star Home Entertainment. The DVD contains both the full-frame and widescreen versions of the film. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 2.40:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image looks very good, as the picture is sharp and clear and free from any overt defects, although there is a slight amount of grain to be had. The colors look very good and the night-time scenes are never too dark. Artifacting problems are negligible and there's only a hint of edge-enhancement haloes. The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. This track suffers from some dynamic range issues, as the sound effects and explosions are much, much louder than the dialogue. And as there's little action in the film, having the dialogue muffled doesn't help the movie. For what it's worth, the sound effects do sound good as they fill the surround speakers and offer a nice amount of bass response.

The ANACONDAS: THE HUNT FOR THE BLOOD ORCHID DVD contains only a smattering of extra features. "Special Effects Toolbox: Creating ANACONDAS" (11 minutes) is a semi-making-of featurette in which director Dwight Little and visual effects supervisor Dale Duguid discuss the CGI and animatronic special effects in the film with the snakes and the shipwreck. The only other extra are four Deleted Scenes, which encompass 9 minutes and are presented as one long reel. Three of the scenes are very brief, while the one long scene shows the aftermath of a snake attack on an animal.





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Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2004. ©