Thursday, August 5, 2010
Shitty Movie Review - "Anaconda"
I suppose this is long overdue and a bit unnecessary. After all, "Anaconda" came out 13 years ago in 1997. But I would also be remiss if I didn't include a review of it.
I should come clean though and admit never having actually sat through all of "Anaconda" until now. I knew about Jon Voight's accent, the constant sneer, and the wink, but I had never taken the time to fully absorb the film, and did I ever miss out. Without "Anaconda," would there have been a "Deep Rising?" Or how about "Lake Placid?" "Snakes on a Plane?" And would the SyFy channel even exist? "Anaconda" has surely had an effect on the landscape of film that cannot be denied.
While I acknowledge it's impact, I find it difficult to consider "Anaconda" a shitty film, as it's clear director Luis Llosa knew what he was doing, as did Jon Voight. A rank amateur auteur wouldn't have been able to make the camera movement choices that Llosa did and a rank acting amateur couldn't have delivered the over-the-top performance that Voight did. Only a savvy director with no budget would know that you can take an earlier scene of a boat landing on the rock and run the footage in reverse to show the boat leaving the rock, even if there is a waterfall in the background with water that defies gravity. The film was clearly conceived and filmed as a schlock-"Jaws" for a new generation and it more than less delivers. With everything so intentional, can it truly be shitty? In its own way it's quite respectable, so onward to the highlights.
Clearly the role of Paraguayan snake hunter Paul Sarone was the role of a lifetime for Voight. Forget "Midnight Cowboy," Voight crafted a memorable character that will last forever. Whenever someone gets swallowed by anything only to be vomited up then wink, that person will forever be compared to Voight's Sarone. His accent and physical affectations were so eerily otherworldly, haunting even, as he combined the best elements of the Tim Curry School of Acting, Jack Lalanne, and someone's creepy grandfather. He arguably stole the movie away from the snake. It should have been called "Voight," starring Anaconda, J-Lo, Ice Cube, pre-funny pre-suicidal Owen Wilson, and Danny Trejo in yet another minor role in which he proved to be awesome. Plus Eric Stolz in a role where he got to lie down out of sight for half the movie.
I should also comment on Kari Wuhrer, the other actress in the movie aside from J-Lo. I still lament the day I found out Kari Wuhrer lived on my street, only to find out she had already moved away. I knew her largely from countless B-movies that played on Showtime and Skinemax. She was pretty hot, and almost always getting naked. Sadly, she didn't get naked enough in "Anaconda" (maybe that's what makes it shitty), but I understand having to make sacrifices to further your career. After having been fully naked in so many movies, it only followed that she would take a different route by giving audiences something different—like hiding her boobs. I don't agree with it, but I reluctantly understand.
And then there's the snake. The anaconda was like the rebel of the snake world, refusing to play by the rules of reality. Who knew a large, cold-blooded reptile with no legs could move like Michael Jackson on crack? Or that it was related to the shrieking eels? Seriously if it weren't for political instability, these anacondas would be the number one reason why I would never ever go near South America.
So "Anaconda," while perhaps not fully shitty, stands as a paragon to other shitty monster movies. It is what these movies should aspire to, much as how "Congo" should be the archetype for movies about signing apes rather than "Project X." It rightfully deserves its reputation of horribly-shitty-but-undeniably-entertaining-schlock-monster movie, and that's something that even "Jaws" can't claim.
My shitty movie rating: 10 turds out of 10. King of the Dung Heap.