Sunday, September 12, 2021

Sneaky Snake Watch: Anaconda (1998)

This is an infograph of how much you'll care about each character

Watched:  09/10/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Second or third
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Some guy

I dunno.  It's a movie about people heading up the Amazon to find a lost tribe who come upon a snake that is huge and doesn't act like a snake at all.  It has JLo and Ice Cube.  So, how bad can it be?

I saw this one opening week in the theater, and what really stuck with me over the years was that Jon Voight is in it, and it made me realize very famous actors can make hilariously bad choices.  And every instinct Voight has in this movie is... so bad it's good.  Paraguayan accent?  Check.  Constant scowl?  Absolutely.  

I am sure there's some conversation that occurred that said "well, Voight's character is the REAL anaconda!  He's the one who sneaks up on you and surprises you with the kill!"  But that's kind of dumb and not right.

It's not clear what Voight's character's endgame was.  Why hijack a boat full of people when you could just... steal a boat.  Or make them get off the boat?  I mean, I'd like to leisurely travel a river with this cast, too, but I don't think that's it.  I literally don't know what he was doing or why.  Clearly his pal already had a boat.  Just take the boat.

The movie has a weird, 90's star studded cast.  Jennifer Lopez, Eric Stoltz, Ice Cube, Jon Voight, Owen Wilson, Kari Wuhrer and a brief scene with Danny Trejo.  Voight and Stoltz were kind of fading stars and everyone else was on their way up.  This is just before Lopez became JLo, and would surely have been given more hero moments in this movie if it were made a year later.  She's brave in this, just not very proactive.  

The snake:  so - we're now five years into CGI movies and this one looks a tad like a high end SyFy channel film.  It's not awful, but its not great.  There's a lot of inconsistency in how the snake looks from muppet to CGI.  But...

look, I had snakes in high school.  

Things snakes don't do:  
  • make noise - they just can't or don't.  There's a reason some developed rattles and other threat displays like a cobra's hood.  They have no growly vocal chords.  This movie actually casts famed cartoon voice actor Frank Welker to voice the snake in its furious snake sounds, and it's amazing, because it winds up sounding like an 80's-era Hanna Barbera monster
  • just keep eating -  snakes generally eat what they get, and then chill.  They are not mammals with high metabolisms that will consume more than they need in order to pack in calories.  Some snakes go weeks or months between feedings.  It's why they make good pets for high schoolers.  
  • shit dust - I don't know what this was about, but the suggestion was the anaconda's waste was like ashes?  I can assure you, snakes make turds, too.  Food does not burn up as it passes through their system.
I dunno.  At least the movie is mostly simple and Stoltz gets a paycheck for maybe 7 minutes worth of movies.  

But like a lot of 90's-era thrill movies, it makes no sense and no one is trying too hard, but it's fun. It's people being chased by a big snake.  That's it.  There's no subtext, but inevitable dashes of pretension right at the end - but even that gets bobbled.  They see the tribes-people they were looking for, and I don't know if its supposed to be respect, but they did just murder these people's god, which has just got to feel like a day, if you know what I mean.

People who've seen the movie do seem to get "yeah, this is dumb fun", so as long as you go into it realizing you're watching a B movie, you're gonna have a good time.  But it is not, in anyway, a good movie.

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