|A mindless plot and third rate special effects take center stage in this adventure
/ horror film. What's so unfortunate for this film, though, is that the effects are truly
atrocious (which lends itself to a passable Double Action Rating, but more on that later.)
While this movie does not attempt to capture the "Natural Disaster" trend, it is
no less guilty of rehashing several tired movie plots all rolled up into one.
In a nutshell, a film crew is assembled to film a documentary about a mysterious
Amazon tribe that has been heard about only in myths and fairy tails (and B rated movies
such as this). These "People of the Mist" or whatever ridiculous name they go
by, live deep in the jungle, where no one has ever dared to tread (theater goers shouldn't
either). Along the way, the crew encounters a stranger who is stranded on his boat during
a storm. They have no choice but to rescue him and take him along for the ride. Little do
they realize, but the stranger is actually a notorious snake hunter in search of his
biggest, final prey - a gigantic anaconda, worth millions of dollars if captured alive. He
forces the crew into steering the boat directly into anaconda territory. Little do they
realize, but the snake is so vicious and cunning that they become the prey, and they must
do whatever they can to stay alive.
As you can already tell from the basic summary, the movie is completely
predictable from scene to scene. As each of the characters is introduced, you can almost
proceed through a checklist whether you think that they will survive, when they will be
killed, how horribly they will be killed, etc. This of course is based upon character
changes such as pretentious guy becomes good guy, or good guy becomes greedy guy, or good
gal becomes killer gal, etc. This is precisely the hallmark of bad writing.
During the film I was often wondering why several of the actors
participated in it, as some of them have actually produced respectable films in the past.
Let's take a look at a few of them and what they have to gain or lose.
Jon Voight is clearly popping up more and more these days after an
extremely long hiatus from the film industry (at least in "big" films.) Cashing
in on his latest success from "Mission Impossible", Voight manages to finagle
his way into what is basically the lead character in the film. Most likely he saw this
script as another chance to get a larger percentage of screen time, and hey, let's not
forget that this movie in many ways must have brought back those fond memories of Deliverance,
in which basically the same things happens - some good people take a trip down a river
only to find themselves threatened and tortured by strangers. I laughed everytime he had a
close up (and there were many) where he seems to think that squinting with his head half
cocked, holding his breathe makes him look mysterious and evil. If you look closely, it
appears that he's desperately trying to hold in his own laughter at accepting this role.
Jennifer Lopez probably figured that it was a good opportunity to try
and showcase her figure as the script called for her to wear water and sweat soaked tank
tops that would present her bosoms in a good light. Ice Cube probably figured that if
enough directors and studio executives see him holding a camera that they might get the
hint that he wants to try his hand at directing. Eric Stoltz most likely just needed the
work, and demanded that several makeup artists ensure that his hair look perfectly styled
throughout the film (even when he's in a coma.)
I have one question myself - how could there be so many writers for this
movie and still end up with a lousy plot? If you noticed, there are 6 writers responsible
for creating this screenplay. I'll bet they were each completely hammered, and together
barely amassed the brainpower of a single village idiot.
How can the movie deserve two and a half cough drops? Well, the special
effects in this film are some of the worst that I've seen*. In virtually all of the scenes
of the snake that show its body, you can clearly see that the snake is digital and almost
two-dimensional. It would have been better if they snake were simply a cartoon drawing
like "Roger Rabbit". I would have laughed less. For this reason alone, the movie
managed to save itself from total mediocrity.
| Bookmarked Scenes:
Her Alimony Check
|A poacher in a swamp shack is attacked by an unknown
entity. The floorboards pop up one by one, and the man races up the deck climbs up the
mast, while firing a pistol behind him. Instead of facing his enemy, he shoots himself in
the head. Really, alimony payments are not that bad if you keep up...
|Voight manages to catch the snake with the towline on the
boat and we see the snake fight furiously. It manages to break free, and chases Lopez into
the control room of the boat by smashing it's head through the window. It simply hisses at
her and attempts to eat her, but is unsuccessful. Well, after a long day of terrorizing
jungle creatures, doesn't the snake deserve a good home cooked meal?
|Voight is bound with his hands behind his back, around a
mast of the boat. As a tearful Kari Salin approaches him with murderous intent, Voight
leaps up vertically 6 feet into the air and wraps his legs around Salins neck, and
proceeds to suffocate her. If only Voight had uttered XBC,
this scene would have been worthy of DPCS.
|The documentary narrator finds himself caught behind a
75ft waterfall as the snake chases!!! him up the side of the cliffs. As the snakes head
peers through the water at him, he decides "Why Me???" and then jumps to his
unknown fate to the rocks below. Harrison Ford would have been proud. However, the snake
snatches him in mid air (with cheesy special effects) and munches on his head which make
this a scene stealer, surpassing Fords own work.
at You, Kid
|Voight's crushed, twisted, partially digested body is
regurgitated by the snake right in front of Lopez. As she screams in horror, Voight's
suave, debonair character still manages to wink at her with his left eye since he feels
that she must find him even more irresistible now. I must admit that I could not resist -
laughing at him, that is.
|The anaconda snake chases Lopez up through a 100ft smoke
stack. As she nears the top which is sealed off by an iron grating, the snake almost
swallows her but Ice Cube manages to stake the snake's tail into the ground with an axe.
Thus we see that a 75ft, several ton snake can be stopped in it's tracks with a simple
axe. It's great fun to see the snake's body behave like a pogo stick as it bounces up and
down trying to get its prey. The smoke stack blows up, and we get to see the snake on fire
as it plummets into the river. XBC would have been a
As mentioned in a feature article, "Disaster Spells Laughter", this film
makes heavy use of special effects for the scenes in which the snake's body must be shown
in it's entirety.
Films that use second rate computers to generate effects
are so obvious because the snake is blurry, has very "plastic" looking colors,
and casts no shadows.
The close up shots of the snake were the only ones in which
the studio used their "lifesize" puppet, and they should have stuck to those
shots alone. Indeed, most of the "excitement" came from the shots of the snake's
point of view, in which the audience looks through the eyes and realizes just how close it
is to the characters.
If a full body shot was required, (I could only see one
scene in which this was necessary), they should have contracted ILM for the work and spent
the extra cash to make it look real. But I'd be willing to be that the director was an
honorary drinking buddy of the writers, and found himself passed out in his chair for most
of the film.
However, the extent to which the poor special effects are
used, as well as the ridiculous nature in which the finale is filmed and acted lend this
movie to a good rating.
There's some truth in the old phrase, "more is