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Snakes provide little thrill in lackluster sequel

Mark Bemenderfer | Monday, September 13, 2004

There seems to have been an interesting trend sweeping through Hollywood lately. Movies that were average at best and undeserving of sequels are now receiving second chances to push their characters and themes back on film. When the first “Anaconda” film came out, not many people saw it. Those that did probably didn’t expect to see a sequel. Well, they got it in the form of “Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid.” Wanted or not, the movie is here, and should be judged on its own merits. Unfortunately, its numerous flaws outweigh those merits. The whole movie feels recycled and lacking. The script would have been more deserving of a direct to video treatment as opposed to the theatrical release that it received.The movie begins with some pharmaceutical company’s employees convincing the organization to continue funding their project. The reason? A possible “Fountain of Youth” in the form of the blood orchid flower, found only in the isle of Borneo in Asia. Blood orchids only bloom for a couple of months every seven years or so, and the team has only a few weeks left in the current cycle. Needless to say, the company finances an expedition quickly and our victims are introduced. Sadly, as they progress through the movie, they find that the blood orchid location also happens to be near the local anaconda mating ground. Since the blood orchid prolongs life, these snakes are slightly larger than average. But as usual, the characters never wonder about the obvious coincidence before launching into their questIf you couldn’t tell already, this is a flawed movie. Where’s a good place to start with the complaints? The plot was formulaic, with all the impending deaths obvious well in advance. The characters feel recycled; there’s the greedy corporate guy, the courageous loner, the horny jerk. If you are looking for something new or innovative, look elsewhere. At least the first movie had some memorable characters with charisma, such as Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, and the always classy Jon Voight.Another complaint is that the filmmakers did not do any research concerning the natural wildlife for the location used to set up their movie. A good portion of the indigenous wildlife within the movie was false. Set in Borneo, the movie borrowed animals from South America and Africa. This can be seen as a small complaint though, because if you are interested in seeing a movie with 40-foot snakes it is unlikely that realism is a high priority.This brings us to the positives in the movie. The snakes look pretty nice on the screen. Being purely CGI animated, they move fluidly and create a lot of moments that are just plain fun to watch. If this movie had received the direct-to-video treatment, the snakes would have undoubtedly suffered in appearance. So it is probably for the best that it got a theatrical debut, as without the CGI this movie would probably have been far less than what it is.Although formulaic and recycled, this movie certainly has some redeeming values saving it from earning the infamous single shamrock rating. The plot, despite complaints, still provides some entertainment if you lose any high expectations and the creatures are well done.However, you may still want to check out the first one if you are in need of a giant snake fix.