Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Short Attention Span Review: Anaconda (1997)

Short Attention Span Review: Anaconda (1997)

Anaconda is a beautifully shot horror thriller that suffers from mediocre CGI effects and a plot that is laden with cliches, but the picture also comes equipped with an ace tucked away in its sleeve.  That ace is actor John Voight, whose wildly over-the-top performance consistently elevates the picture and makes it incredibly entertaining.  His send-up of Marlon Brando is far too ridiculous to be taken seriously, and yet it works flawlessly within the context of this motion picture.  Who knew that pairing a cheesy killer snake movie with a grossly exaggerated performance is actually a winning blueprint that serves up a plethora of thrills, chills, and chuckles?  Voight's Paul Serone sports a perpetual sneer, speaks in a mysterious accent, and ultimately winds up being about ten times as dangerous as the fearsome snake the picture is named after.  If it seems like I'm focusing this review almost entirely on Voight's histrionic efforts, that's because I feel that they probably should have called this one Paul Serone: The Movie.  Now, Jennifer Lopez and Ice Cube are okay, and Eric Stoltz is rock solid in a smaller role, but they are merely footnotes in this film.  I gave the cinematography of Bill Butler a nod for good reason, and I also think that Luis Llosa did a fine job with the direction--though he clearly fares better with the exciting aspects of the picture than he does with his attempts to ratchet up the suspense.  Shoddy effects aside, there is a lot to like about Anaconda, but it is Voight's show through and through.  Dude devours scenery and totally overshadows everyone* he shares the screen with, to include any giant snakes in the mix.  Is Anaconda a good movie?  Eh, probably not.  Is it fun to watch?  Absolutely, and that's largely due to the presence of one sneering madman who overloads the proceedings with menace and charisma.

*Eric Stoltz actually holds his own with Voight, but sadly his character is off screen for most of the movie.

Final Grade: C

As a film, Anaconda is average at best, but Jon Voight makes it must-see entertainment.

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