Plot: What’s it about?
I hate snakes. Really I do. So I’m not exactly sure what possessed me to see “Anaconda” in the spring of 1997, but there wasn’t a lot to do in Manhattan, Kansas (where I went to college). The movie was actually an unexpected hit and was at the top of the box office for a few weeks. That’s pretty impressive for a movie that has a score of 4.2 on the IMDB film rankings. I remember reading an article in Entertainment Weekly saying that the film had “staying power” in that people went to see it repeatedly. Looking back, I think what “Anaconda” will be remembered for is the cast. Yes, Jon Voight was a well-known actor as was Eric Stoltz but Jennifer Lopez hadn’t quite hit her superstardom and neither had Owen Wilson.
The plot really isn’t that hard to follow. A group of documentary filmmakers are cruising down the Amazon river looking to make a film about an indigenous tribe of people. They get sidetracked and take on Paul Serone (Jon Voight) who tells them he knows of the people and can lead them there. Director Terri (Jennifer Lopez), a strong-willed yet likeable person, reluctantly agrees to the plan and away they go. Now the trouble is they’re being stalked by an anaconda (hence the name of the movie), that starts taking out their crew one at a time. Is Paul who he says he is? Are his intentions honorable? Will any member of the crew make it out alive?
“Anaconda” is really one of those movies that’s so stupid and far-fetched, it’s kind of hard not to like. The film actually inspired two sequels, though minus the stars that made the first one so memorable. The CGI of the snake is actually one of the things that made the movie work and we do get some rather “unique” points of view such as the view from inside the snake as he devours his victims. Amazing. Totally unreal, but I commend the filmmakers for being willing to go there. The movie was nominated for several Razzies back in 1998 including worst actor, worst director and worst picture however Kevin Costner’s post-apocalyptic film “The Postman” took home the top honors there. Love it or love to hate it, “Anaconda” has slithered its way onto Blu-ray. You’ve beenwarned.
Video: How does it look?
“Anaconda” looks fairly good in a 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer. This was one of Columbia’s “Superbit” titles back in the day, though this image looks sharper, brighter and better than that DVD. The film takes place along a river, so we can expect greens to be the dominant color, the detail in the foliage is amazing and what really struck me was the detail in the CGI of the snake. Every scale is visible and looks amazing. While there are some scenes that do suffer from a bit of artifacting and grain, by and large this looks just as good as I’d expected it to.
Audio: How does it sound?
While “Anaconda” doesn’t exactly sport the best soundtrack out there, it does have some moments. As I mentioned above, there’s a scene in which someone is engulfed in the snake and we see it from the snake’s point of view. The speakers convey this in a very unique manner in that we feel like we’re actually inside the snake. That’s the point, obviously, but when sound is executed so well it’s a great thing. Dialogue (providing you don’t pay attention to what they’re actually saying) sounds good and clear with no distortion in the least. The majority of the soundtrack is limited to the front stage, though having a Dolby TrueHD soundtrack is a nice little upgrade.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Despite the cult status of this film, no supplements have been included.