Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid (2004)

Baffling: This is a sequel to a really bad B film with a cast of Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Owen Wilson, and Jon Voight.
Obvious: None of them returned for this.
Baffling: This is a sequel (!) to “Anaconda”.
Obvious: It’s really bad.
Baffling: This was released in theaters during the summer.
Obvious: There are no A or even B list actors in the cast.
Baffling: This isn’t a straight to video release.
Obvious: It should be.

Well, I’ll echo what every intelligent movie-goer has thus declared: This movie sucks, and it might as well be another dung pile “Sci-Fi Original” Picture. I have this unshakable feeling this was set for Straight to Video hell, and another film was set to be released in theaters, and along the line the titles were mixed up, because there should be no other reason why this was shown in theaters. But then again, crap like “White Chicks” also had a wide release, but you never really know.The plot (I use the term loosely) entails a bunch of pretty people going in to a grimy jungle to look for a flower that has the capability to decrease aging in a human. Now the flower is untested and unverified, but they say it is, and it gives our cast of actors (I use the term loosely) a chance to rumble with snakes in the jungle. They’re sent to their deaths by a company that has the capabilities of studying a flower from thousands of miles away, but aren’t advanced enough to keep their crew from dying, the crew carries along “high-tech” equipment that can analyze their surroundings, but not sense a big ass waterfall.

It’s an advanced company that needs to find a flower that decreases youth but–they scavenge for it on a creaky old boat? Some company. No high tech machinery, no competent henchmen, no scientists. You assume this blood orchid being such an amazing discovery, they’d use every single resource available to assure safe recovery, and there are the hot scientists whom are as believable in their roles as Denise Richards as a rocket scientist in “The World Is Not Enough”. What I don’t understand is that the studio execs, as always, just don’t get it. This wasn’t good with big name stars, why would it be good without big name stars? Did they feel it’d give them an excuse to make a crappy film? There are your usual WB channel rejects, and soap stars. But, hey, at least there’s no Ricky Ricardo wannabe. But we are subjected to Eugene Byrd who takes on the cliché token role spouting slang infested one-liners instead of real dialogue and acts as a pseudo-Paxton from “Aliens”, but is fifty times obnoxious.

Seriously, I was annoyed that he didn’t die. And Morris Chestnut? Why?!! Sadly, he’s the biggest star here unless you count the utterly gorgeous Salli Richardson who just ends up becoming a pseudo-Jennifer Lopez sans the screeching voice and banging behind. At least in the first film we got to see a wet Jennifer Lopez. And then the characters are just your usual archetype clichés, the southern belle, and the machismo fueled hero (He even wrestles an alligator! Crikey!), the evil British antagonist, the sexy love interest, the comic relief, the spiritual Asian man, and the tough ethnic chick. And most of the characters, played by actors who couldn’t act to save their lives, are really only brought to the film to die, rightfully. This farce attempts to build tension, but the “director” Dwight Little just doesn’t know how. We start with the very derivative “Jaws” themed opener with an obligatory native being offed which is practically a requirement for movies of this status (That leech scene was also sickeningly derivative of “Stand By Me”), and there’s always that build-up with the score going shrill and then…! Nothing. Yawn.

Not to mention for all the film milks with the anacondas, we barely see them, ever. Admittedly it’s understandable since the special effects are just as bad this time around as they were the first time, and the view perspective is always distorted and uneven. Most of the shots of the snake/s are relegated to dark shots that are often barely visible and hard to see, and resort to cheap factory perspective sequences, which are used for, some would say, building suspense, but it’s likely due to budget constraints, and the snakes are often inconsistent. They’re fast enough to pounce out of the darkness, but not fast enough to escape a burning hut, sometimes they’re faster than humans, sometimes they can’t catch up, sometimes they can climb trees and mountains, and sometimes they can barely scale walls, they’re smart enough to devise traps, but not smart enough to hunt in packs. All of the snake’s traits are just drawn broadly enough for plot convenience.

And, you assume, these being giant snakes, you could hear them hissing from literally miles away, but they’re quiet and the killing sequences aren’t as good as the first film as we’re subjected to insanely fast snake kills with blurry CGI and bad mimicking of horror. Meanwhile the “actors” actually spout their dialogue with a straight face, and everyone here looks bored. There are even insightful nuggets like: “Everything gets eaten out here… it’s a jungle.” and “So, you’re telling me there’s some snake orgy out in the jungle?!” These are bits and pieces truly worthy of Mamet. The film is also never fearless in its sheer brutal defiance of logic.

They say the flower enhances youth, but is never proven to increase growth. It’s suggested that anacondas stop growing once they die, but due to the flower, they’re surviving and growing bigger and bigger, so would a human, who takes the pill, keep growing? I’ve always assumed biology dictates that inevitably a living object stops growing after a set limit of time, and not keep growing due to a flower, and wouldn’t the cycle for growth still be normal unless the flower was a type of hormone? The first film is better… and that’s not really saying much when the first is a film the entire cast refuses to talk about or admit they were in. And I gather the cast to this will encounter the same discretion. What’s there to say that you can’t already figure out for yourself if you subscribe to common sense? It’s a bad movie, really bad, and in the end I was just baffled that this was actually made.