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Anaconda is an action-packed thriller starring JENNIFER LOPEZ (The Wedding Planner), rap superstar ICE CUBE (XXX: State of the Union), Academy Award®-winner JON VOIGHT (1978 Best Actor, Coming Home) and ERIC STOLTZ (Almost Famous). A documentary film crew, headed by anthropologist Steve Cale (Stoltz) and director Terri Flores (Lopez), ventures into the world's most isolated jungle - the Amazon - in search of a lost and forgotten civilization. Early in their journey, they come to the aid of Paul Serone, a Paraguayan guide (Voight), who joins their expedition. But Serone is actually a poacher on the trail of a legendary snake. When Serone hijacks the boat and its crew on his quest to track and kill the giant snake, he steers the expedition right into the path of the deadly monster. Ger ready for a wild, scare-a-minute thrill ride because ANACONDA will grab you and take your breath away.
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Jon Voight seems ideally suited to the role of the creepy bad guy. Other familiar cast members who manage to elevate the quality of the dialogue include Owen Wilson, Ice Cube and Jennifer Lopez. Also, if you're a CGI junkie and just really get into the spectacular special effects in so many of today's action/horror flicks, then the giant anaconda in this film may seem comical in comparison to current standards. But again, take it for what it is and you'll have a good time watching this movie.
CGI effects were stellar for it's day, so no real gripes there.
Worst part of the whole movie-- they use a dead monkey for bait on a hook and line and even "chum" with monkey blood, which is decidedly NOT a way you'd try to catch any snake. When they hook the snake, it fights like a large fish, leaps from the water, and screams. As both a person who respects and likes snakes, and as a fisherman, this scene alone ruined anything good about the movie.
Wildly uneven visual effects are a real mixed bag here, ranging from great to laughably awful. (Backwards waterfall, anyone?) This is an older movie and at the time this was filmed computer generated effects were still in their infancy. That, and the low budget nature of the picture meant that the resultant full body shots of the anaconda look pretty crude & obvious, especially when compared to the infinitely more polished CGI we see today. Full-scale animatronic snake puppetry is similarly rough and not that much improved from the giant rubbery snake Arnold wrestled some 15 years prior in CONAN, THE BARBARIAN. Even so, they're effective enough to creep you out if you suspend your disbelief and just go with the flow. ANACONDA's best moment combines practical effects & CGI to give us the unforgettable "vomit & wink" scene. That lone sequence helped cement this film in the horror lexicon. That and a then fresh-faced booty babe Jennifer Lopez, plus the crazed, over-the-top performance by Voight combined to gave this little B-movie shocker a box office take surprisingly respectable enough to insure a stream of direct-to-video sequels (and endless imitators) that are still being cranked out 20+ years later.
This Blu-ray release of ANACONDA looks & sounds pretty good. Focus is satisfyingly sharp, with strong blacks, mid-tones and little to no artifacting & pixelation. This is good news since much of the picture takes place at night, in shadowy jungles and in the silty waters of the Amazon itself. No extras though, which is a HUGE disappointment. After all these years it would have been great to have had a set of new interviews with the cast to capture their reflective thoughts looking back on the film. The F/X stuff, harsh as it was, would still be interesting to dig into. Maybe on some later edition from a company who really gets into such stuff (are you reading this Shout!Factory?). Even so, this film looks & sounds pretty dang good here, enough to highly recommend even this barebones release - at least until a better, more fan-flavored edition comes along. I give this scaly, snake-fest a solid 4 STARS.