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Anaconda Review

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A documentary film crew venturing into the Amazon are attacked by a monstrous snake.

★★★★★

Part return to '70s exploitation fodder like Piranha, part old-fashioned monster movie, Anaconda is as simplistic as its self-explanatory title. For all that, the movie provides a fair number of laughs, even if you can't help wondering how many of them were actually intentional.

Stoltz plays an anthropologist scouring the Amazon for a lost tribe of Indians. Accompanied by a documentary film crew that includes Lopez, Ice Cube and Jonathan Hyde, he heads up river and swiftly encounters trouble in the shape of Paul Sarone (Voight). With his bizarre accent and extravagant facial tics, Sarone is clearly a beer or two short of the full six-pack, but before anyone can scream "fruitcake", he's taken over the boat and Lopez et al are fighting a 40 foot anaconda.

Widely regarded as the most vicious snakes on the planet, anacondas like to swallow their victims whole before regurgitating them - still just alive - for a leisurely snack. Peruvian Llosa, one of the few South American directors to get a shot in Hollywood, employs a mix of animatronics and computer effects to capture this process, but only the most gullible viewers will be convinced.

Far more entertainment is to be had observing Voight. Whether leering at the delightful Lopez or speaking out of the side of his mouth, he gives a performance reminiscent of Brando's infamous turn in Apocalypse Now. It's a long way from Midnight Cowboy and Coming Home, although to be fair Voight didn't have to play opposite a giant snake in either of those movies.

With Hyde as a caricatured Englishman, and Ice Cube doing his homeboy in the jungle bit, there's enough here to keep you watching and groaning, while Llosa can console himself with the thought that he's made a camp classic.

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