- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 26, 2004

”Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid” is so bad, its acting so

rotten, its dialogue so puerile, I think it cured me of my fear of snakes.

The slithery, computer-generated creatures in this seven-years-after sequel to “Anaconda” are as big as CSX boxcars and pack as much scare-punch as a puppet show.

It’s mating season for these giants on the Southeast Asian island of Borneo, unbeknownst to a team of pharmaceutical researchers in search of rare orchids that may yield life-span-extending applications for the human body. (The last person who attempted a movie involving orchids was Charlie Kaufman. He gave up and wrote a movie about himself.)

Curse the gods, it’s also rainy season, requiring the city slickers to hire a charter-boat captain by the name of Bill Johnson (Johnny Messner, a soap actor compensating in tattooed ruggedness for what he lacks in verbal skills) to navigate the flooded waterways of the jungle.

The expeditioners are a delicate ethnic balance of mostly lesser-known actors chosen for their sexy exteriors and ease of placement into cliched character molds. The folks who keep tabs on inclusion of minorities in movies will be pleased.

Call the roll: There’s a hot blonde (KaDee Strickland); a hot black woman (Salli Richardson-Whitfield); a handsome Latino (Nicholas Gonzalez); a strapping black dude (Morris Chestnut); a not-so-strapping black dude (Eugene Byrd) who’s there for hip-hoppy punch lines; and a megalomaniacal Brit (Matthew Marsden).

Finally and inevitably, there’s the magical aborigine (Karl Yune) who speaks good English and will slap you on the wrist if you think Indonesian villagers are still practicing headhunters.

In schlock-shock fashion, the anacondas — there can’t be more than one, can there? — begin pouncing on the cast one by one. According to the snake experts, anacondas are constrictors, but what fun is that? This turkey of a film needs them to swallow humans whole.

The horror action is mostly tame and jokey. The audience at my screening laughed themselves silly, which bugged me — I really wanted to hear more about Mr. Messner’s tattoos.

*

TITLE: “Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid”

RATING: PG-13 (Action violence; scary images; some profanity)

CREDITS: Directed by Dwight H. Little. Produced by Verna Harrah. Story by Hans Bauer, Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr., based on the 1997 screenplay “Anaconda.” Screenplay by John Claflin, Daniel Zelmin, Michael Miner and Edward Neumeier. Cinematography by Mark Wareham and Stephen F. Windon.

RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes.

WEB SITE: https://www.sonypictures.com/movies/anacondas

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS


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