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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF Blu-Ray Review: Anaconda



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#1 of 12 ONLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted May 28 2009 - 12:45 AM

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Anaconda


Studio: Columbia Pictures
Year: 1997
US Rating: Rated PG-13 For Intense Adventure Violence and for Brief Language and Sensuality
Film Length: 89 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English, French and Portuguese 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese




US Release Date: June 2, 2009
Review Date: May 28, 2009


“This river can kill you, in a thousand ways”

The Show - Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image out of Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image


The man responsible for delivering the ham and cheese on rye that was Stallone’s flimsy disappointment, 1994’s The Specialist, Luis Llosa delves deep in the ‘B’ movie jungle to deliver campy chills and thrills in 1997’s Anaconda. An absurd schlock monster flick with the IQ of a glass of water and acting talents befitting a high school play. It is, however, despite itself, a little fun at times.

In the deep recesses of the Amazonian jungle, a film crew sets out to create a documentary on a mysterious people only known in the west through legend. Documentary producer Dr. Steven Cale has hired a first time documentary director, Terri Flores along with her cameraman friend Danny Rich to make the trek up river to find and document this mysterious people. With the smug and pompous presenter, Warren Westridge and the production assistant (Ms. Kalberg), along with the last of the crew, Gary Dixon – the crew set off.

On their journey, they encounter a man whose boat is snagged and offer him a ride – but what they don’t realize is the man they picked up, Paul Sarone, is a snake bounty hunter of sorts bent on tracking and capturing a massive anaconda. He tricks them and finally forces them to take the route he needs them to on the path of the large snake, but the snake is tracking them.

A silly plot to be sure, but the cast seem to take it all very seriously. Performances range from moderate to terrible, with Jennifer Lopez as the director with a break, Terri Flores and Eric Stoltz as Dr. Steven Cale coming out of this film relatively unscathed - when it comes to how seriously we can view them as performers at least. They provide the unlikely romantic interest in the story. Ice Cube is, as he always is, sour faced, gruff and tough as the cameraman, with Owen Wilson showing up here as one of the crew. As the impossibly clichéd British on-screen presenter with a penchant for fine wine, classical music and the world to be at his beck and call is Jonathan Hyde.

But notably, and most excruciatingly, is Jon Voight as the Paraguayan river guide-cum-snake hunter, Paul Sarone. So absolutely atrocious is his accent, coupled with what must be a really poor Robert Shaw from Jaws imitation in his expressions, that his performance almost defies logic. Coming from a man who has ably acted in numerous quality films through the years, his Sarone portrayal can only be labeled as bloody awful.

Eric Stoltz, after an unfortunate incident fairly early in the film, remains absent for almost the entire second act so that Jennifer Lopez’s character can step us as a heroine of sorts, though she pales when compared to far greater and stronger female heroes, such as the Alien saga’s Ellen Ripley or the Terminator’s Sarah Conner.

The film channels Jaws on more than one occasion, with shots clearly influenced by the Spielberg masterpiece. But rather than be informed by the steady patience exhibited in that great shark tale, it borrows without transferring the simplicity of that film along with it. It does, however, make the right choice in keeping the headlining serpent under wraps for a good portion of the first half of the film, not unleashing the full scale, or the full CGI effects, until the final confrontation.

But sadly, the film’s ‘villain’ isn’t really that impressive. Perhaps back in 1997 it would have seemed more threatening and exciting – but, despite some pretty good CGI and very good animatronics, it doesn’t amount to a memorable movie monster.

Nothing about this 89 minute feature can be taken seriously, though it was surprisingly successful during its theatrical run, raking in over $136MM worldwide – so it clearly has its fans.






The Video - Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image out of Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

Columbia Pictures slithers Anaconda home to us on Blu-Ray for the first time in a 1080p High Definition transfer preserving its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1. The colors are a little faded, lacking pop or power as you might expect from rich jungle locations – but the image is very clean, with a reasonably good level of detail and a faithful film look. A little washed out and soft at times, this is still a good image for a 12 year old, lower budget film.



The Sound - Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image out of Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

What the English Dolby TrueHD surround sound audio lacks in depth, it more than makes up for with its frequent flexing of the bass muscles (the subwoofer kicks in more than I was expecting) and the mount of surround speaker activity alive with bugs and assorted jungle creatures.

As I mentioned, the sound can seem a little shallow at times, but overall the audio is crisp, loud and satisfying.



The Extra’s - No Stars out of Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

Previews for a handful of better films




Final Thoughts

In summary, Anaconda is a silly film. After what really was an exciting opening scene, with Danny Trejo (From Dusk ‘Til Dawn), falling victim while on his river boat – complete with some nifty camera shots, it all devolves into rampant cliché’s, shaky acting and very little by way of real scares. Even Randy Edelman’s overpowering score telegraphs the jumps and scares far in advance of what is actually seen. In fact, the score is so over-bearing at times that it almost borders on parody. The audio and video presentation of Anaconda is worth experiencing for those who have this on their ‘guilty pleasure’ list. Fans of this kind of film may want to give it a rent first.

Overall Score - Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image out of Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

Neil Middlemiss
Kernersville, NC
"Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science" – Edwin Hubble
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#2 of 12 OFFLINE   Johnny Angell

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Posted May 28 2009 - 08:39 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil Middlemiss
Luis Llosa delves deep in the ‘B’ movie jungle to deliver campy chills and thrills in 1997’s Anaconda. An absurd schlock monster flick with the IQ of a glass of water and acting talents befitting a high school play. It is, however, despite itself, a little fun at times.

But notably, and most excruciatingly, is Jon Voight as the Paraguayan river guide-cum-snake hunter, Paul Sarone. So absolutely atrocious is his accent, coupled with what must be a really poor Robert Shaw from Jaws imitation in his expressions, that his performance almost defies logic. Coming from a man who has ably acted in numerous quality films through the years, his Sarone portrayal can only be labeled as bloody awful.

Nothing about this 89 minute feature can be taken seriously, though it was surprisingly successful during its theatrical run, raking in over $136MM worldwide – so it clearly has its fans.
I heartily agree not to take this movie seriously and that is why I like it so much. Absurd schlock? Yes. Is Jon Voight atrocious...I prefer to think of him as way over the top. It's gotta be over the top for Sarone to deliver that wink of the eye late in the film. This is definitely a guilty pleasure for me.

BTW, did you the catch the waterfall that defies gravity?
Johnny
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#3 of 12 OFFLINE   Stephen_J_H

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Posted May 28 2009 - 10:17 AM

This movie defines "guilty pleasure" for me. So gleefully bad. The sequels completely missed the point.
"My opinion is that (a) anyone who actually works in a video store and does not understand letterboxing has given up on life, and (b) any customer who prefers to have the sides of a movie hacked off should not be licensed to operate a video player."-- Roger Ebert

#4 of 12 OFFLINE   Michael Elliott

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Posted May 28 2009 - 03:02 PM

I'm terrified of snakes so I really love watching this movie because it freaks me the hell out. I agree that people shouldn't take it so seriously and just sit back and have fun.

#5 of 12 OFFLINE   Southpaw

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Posted May 29 2009 - 01:15 AM

Waterfall that defies gravity?

#6 of 12 OFFLINE   Johnny Angell

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Posted May 29 2009 - 02:11 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Southpaw
Waterfall that defies gravity?
There is a scene in which the boat is on the river, and for some reason, they reversed the direction of the film. The waterfall is going up.

It's been a while since I've watched the movie, so I forget exactly when it happens.
Johnny
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#7 of 12 ONLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted May 29 2009 - 06:46 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Angell
BTW, did you the catch the waterfall that defies gravity?

I will check that out tonight - can't believe I missed that!
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#8 of 12 OFFLINE   Johnny Angell

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Posted May 29 2009 - 07:49 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil Middlemiss
I will check that out tonight - can't believe I missed that!
On my SD DVD (yes, I admit it, I own this movie) it occurs at about 1 hour and 11 minutes. Don't feel bad about missing it, it is my vague recollection that it was pointed out to me, probably on this forum.

This movie is so bad (or cheap or both), when they realized they needed a certain shot, they just ran the film backwards to get it. And yet, I still like this movie. BTW, When's Lake Placid coming out on Blu? LP is of the same genre (schlock horror and guilty pleasure) but is a couple of notches better.

First time this movie hits $15, I'm going to buy it.
Johnny
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#9 of 12 ONLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted May 29 2009 - 08:10 AM

[quote=Johnny Angell]BTW, When's Lake Placid coming out on Blu? LP is of the same genre (schlock horror and guilty pleasure) but is a couple of notches better.QUOTE]

Good call on Lake Placid - Great flick and really, really funny. Betty White is hilarious - and almost completely unquotable fom that film in mixed company Posted Image
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#10 of 12 OFFLINE   Johnny Angell

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Posted May 29 2009 - 02:09 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil Middlemiss
Betty White is hilarious - and almost completely unquotable fom that film in mixed company Posted Image
Ya know, I'm not totally sure about how mixed the HT is so here are some quotes from the IMDB:
Quote:
Sheriff Hank Keough: Ma'am, your husband Bernie, you didn't by any chance lead him to the lake blindfolded?
Mrs. Bickerman: If I had a d****, this is where I'd tell you to suck it!

Mrs. Bickerman: I'm rooting for the crocodile. I hope he swallows your friends whole.

Mrs. Bickerman: Oh, my husband passed away. It's been almost two years now.
Sheriff Hank Keough: My department doesn't have any record of that, Mrs. Bickerman.
Mrs. Bickerman: Well, I'm sorry. Incomplete records haunt me so.
Jack Wells: What was the cause of your husband's death, ma'am? Do you know?
Kelly Scott: We don't mean to invade your privacy, but was he ill, was he sick?
Sheriff Hank Keough: Was he swallowed?

Mrs. Bickerman: Murders and rapes in the city, people bomb planes, can the police stop 'em? No! But feed one little cow to a crocodile...
Sheriff Hank Keough: You're gonna stay right here until the police show. You're under full house arrest.
Mrs. Bickerman: Thank you, officer f***-meat!

Mrs. Bickerman: I'll sue you!
Jack Wells: Go ahead.
Mrs. Bickerman: You can't take a cow by eminent domain!
Sheriff Hank Keough: We just did.
Jack Wells: We won't let her get hurt, Ma'am.
Mrs. Bickerman: You're all $%#%#%! I knew it first, I just didn't want to say it!

Mrs. Bickerman: Is it illegal to wish the chewing of law enforcement?

Sorry 'bout that, I hereby declare the hijacking of your review thread overPosted Image

BTW, did you find that waterfall?
Johnny
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But a family cat is not replaceable like a wornout coat or a set of tires. Each new kitten becomes its own cat, and none is repeated. I am four cats old, measuring out my life in friends that have succeeded but not replaced one another.--Irving Townsend


#11 of 12 ONLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted May 31 2009 - 03:25 AM

I laughed out loud at work when I read through those quotes from Lake Placid - still just as funny today.

I found the reverse waterfall...it begins at 1:11:22 and runs for a few seconds. I guess since the director didn't get a shot of the boat leaving the waterfall area, they reused the arrival shot and ran it backwards...hilarious!!
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#12 of 12 OFFLINE   Johnny Angell

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Posted July 03 2009 - 07:08 AM

I just watched this on Blu and really liked it.  It's a big improvement over the DVD.  I found the sound track to be full and active.  I guess I got so interested in the movie I didn't notice the washed out parts.  I found the colors to be vivid and the image sharp.

Amazon has it for $20.  This ought to be on sale for $15 in a month or two and I will snap it up then.

Still waiting for Lake Placid.

Johnny
www.teamfurr.org
But a family cat is not replaceable like a wornout coat or a set of tires. Each new kitten becomes its own cat, and none is repeated. I am four cats old, measuring out my life in friends that have succeeded but not replaced one another.--Irving Townsend



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