US, 1997, 89 minutes, Colour.
Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, John Voight, Eric Stoltz, Jonathan Hyde, Owen Wilson, Kari Wuhrer, Vincent Castellanos, Danny Trejo.
Directed by Luis Llosa.
Anaconda is no masterpiece but provides a lot of tongue-in-cheek entertainment for those who have enjoyed monsters and their threat to humans, a kind of giant snake-Jaws.
It is the kind of material that was popular in the past at Saturday matinees, all the contrived situations for danger, a range of sometimes cardboard characters, some pop dialogue, exotic situations – and, in case we did not realise it, the character played by John Voight is devoured by the Anaconda, vomited (as predicted) out and then giving a wink!
Jennifer Lopez is glamorous as the leader of the expedition, a would-be director making a documentary for an anthropologist played by Eric Stoltz who is bitten early in the film and plays most of it prostrate on his bed in the cabin. Ice Cube is Ice Cube, the photographer for the expedition; Jonathan Hyde is a pompous English Professor. And it is a surprise to see Owen Wilson in the late 90s, just being Owen Wilson, part of the team for the making of the film and offering a bit of double dealing with John Voight who poses as stranded in the jungle, comes on board, takes over the boat to pursue the Anaconda to get its skin and make money. There is a cameo at the beginning of the film by Danny Trejo as one of Voight’s collaborators.
1. A Jaws variation? Monster film? Destruction?
2. The Amazon setting, the hotel, the jungle, the boats, the river, the musical score?
3. How serious? Matinee style adventure? Exaggeration? Pop dialogue?
4. The title, the description, the animatronics? Size, colour, movement, eyes, mouth, throat? Squeezing? Action sequences?
5. The opening, the man on the boat, the attack of the Anaconda, on the mast, shooting himself? The boat adrift, later? The photo of the three hunters? The skins, the snakes?
6. The group, the plan for the documentary, the search for the tribe?
7. Steven, American, his leadership? The professor, his British arrogance? Terry, the director? Danny, photography? Gary and Denise on the staff? The team work? In the boat, the search, personal clashes, the professor and his golf practice…?
8. Finding Serone, his wanting help, to bring him on board? Training to be a priest, going to the real world? His character, knowledge, control? Shooting the boar? The threats, bribing Gary, choking Denise with his legs? Searching the boat, the gear? His being overcome, tied up, getting loose? The goal of the Anaconda, his being taken, vomited out – and his wink?
9. Terry, leader, relationship with Steven, his being poisoned, the hole in his throat, bedridden? Terry and her orders, the dangers?
10. Danny, the confrontation, the filming, on the boat, his being shot?
11. The professor, haughty, having to help, in the water, the Anaconda getting him at the waterfall?
12. Gary, betrayal, relationship with Denise, her sadness, her being killed?
13. Matteo, on board, partnership with Serone, the first to die?
14. Crisis, effects, dangers, thrills?
15. Finally finding the tribe?