April 12, 1997 -- "Anaconda" not so boldly goes where many men have gone before, that is, down the scary path of yet another retread of "Jaws."
A group of people head out on a boat in search of a lost tribe in the Amazon basin. Realizing that they have forgotten the Robert Shaw character, (the obsessive-compulsive Captain Ahab-type), stop and pick up a hitchhiker (Jon Voigt) who fits the description. This character, in case you have forgotten is obsessed with killing or capturing a (insert one of the following) a. big shark, b. big whale, c. big snake, d. big paycheck, e. big whatever scary animal the next movie of this genre calls for.
The disaster movie type setup is bad. This is where we are introduced to all the main characters, preferably one from each major ethnic minority and majority, who will later be eaten by a monster.
The setup is tedious, but once the action starts, there's not much letup as the Ahab character slowly takes over the boat. Thankfully, Voigt has the sense not to laugh manaically while he's doing so. The only guy who sees it coming is the cameraman, Danny (Ice Cube), naturally, is a black guy with street smarts who's seen this schtick before. Of course, nobody listens to Danny.
As the little band of explorers settles into madness and snake food things get wackier and more frantic as the stoic Danny tries to overcome the dual threats of the snake and Ahab at the same time. Jennifer Lopez ("Selena"), who is along for the ride, isn't much help and neither is Eric Stoltz, who spends his time in the film either asleep or sleepwalking.
Both Ice Cube and Voigt are fun to watch in the film. The other actors are forgettable. The visual effects, supervised by John Nelson, are quite good in places, but look a little jerky in others. Some of the digital snake attacks, however, are really cool.
Aside from the above, this film is forgettable. Now if they had spent as much time on dialogue and character development as they did on special effects, this could have been a good movie, but that's true of a lot of Hollywood films. This one rates a C.
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