It's not in every movie that Jon Voight gets to impress us with the size of his snake. And it's not often I make bad jokes like that. I apologize. In fact, when I saw this in the cinema, the audience was in fits of laughter at the very first sight of said beast.

A National Geographic film crew travel down river to the deepest depths of the Amazon jungle in search of a mythical tribe of large-breasted naked women, or something. On the way, they pick up a hitchhiker whose boat has been wrecked in a storm. Big mistake! The hitchhiker is Paul Sarone (John Voight, hamming it up so heavy he's almost sponsored by Danish), hell-bent on capturing a 60-foot snake that's lurking in the water.

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The rest of the crew tries to stand up against him, but his sneer is obviously too scary to fight against. Ice Cube plays the typical homebody from South Central, Jonathan Hyde is the typical English gent, Jennifer Lopez is the typical tough babe, Owen Wilson is a dufus, as always, and Kari Wuhrer - infinitely prettier than Lopez - provides a decent distraction from the hungry reptile.

In the tradition of horror-in-the-jungle movies, the victims get knocked off, one by one. Sometimes the anaconda looks real and when it doesn't, the effects are iffy indeed. The plot works up to a predictable climax, with a big bang, to satisfy the audience.

It's hard to believe this film went straight to No. 1 at the US box office. It's simply awful, but has such a hey-ho charm and a who-gives-a-damn attitude that it makes for decent popcorn fare. The script is chockablock full of clich├ęs and most of the laughs are unintentional. But entertainment is entertainment, nevertheless, and Anaconda provides enough of it. How can you refuse a movie that offers a POV shot of inside a snake's belly?

How on earth the producer managed to assemble the actors he did, when the characters are no more than snake fodder, is unreal. They're all capable of better things, that's for sure.

If giant fakes - I mean, snakes - turn you on, then go for it. Otherwise, beware. This is a Z-movie with a B-movie cast.

Reviewed on: 09 Feb 2003
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Anaconda packshot
Jennifer Lopez and assorted B-list actors are attacked by a giant snake in the Amazon rain forest.
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Director: Luis Llosa

Writer: Hans Bauer, Jim Cash, Jack Epps Jr

Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Jon Voight, Eric Stoltz, Jonathan Hyde, Owen Wilson, Kari Wuhrer, Vincent Castellanos, Danny Trejo

Year: 1997

Runtime: 89 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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