Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid (2004)

Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid (2004)

The hunters will become the hunted

A group of entrepreneurs and scientists set out down a jungle river in Borneo to search for the blood orchid, an extremely rare flower that blooms once every seven years and holds the key to eternal life. However, they are left stranded into the wilderness after an accident destroys their boat. They also soon realise that they are not alone in the jungle, as giant anaconda snakes lurk all around them.

 

With no connections at all to the original, no major stars in the cast and an approach which makes it far too serious for its own good, Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid is about as unnecessary and unwelcome a sequel I’ve ever heard of. It’s like the original, minus all of the things that made that one such an entertaining ride – i.e. Jon Voight hamming it up and a decent animatronic snake. I’m guessing it was purely based on the reasonable box office success of the original, but I’m absolutely stunned to know that Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid received a theatrical release. Everything about it screams Sy Fy Channel.

Rather than ramping up the sequel by opening the purse strings, Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid cuts back the budget and it shows. Anaconda was a financial success, making over three times it’s budget, yet the producers here opt to give this sequel even less money and still expect the team to work wonders with it. The first glaring thing you’ll notice is the cut-price cast. There’s no Jon Voight hamming it up (and this one desperately needed someone like that – Matthew Mardsen’s feeble human villain is no match for the original’s sneaky snake hunter). There’s no Latino in the form of Jennifer Lopez, so they cast an African American-Native American descendant instead to tick off a box. There’s no Ice Cube, though rest assured there’s a black man on the cast to spout off a loud of stereotyped dialogue. Heck, there’s no Eric Stoltz or Danny Trejo in a throwaway role. There’s just a bunch of lousy actors who any audience will struggle to recognise from anything else.

The second problem is that the story is so unbelievably contrived that it’s hard to ever be invested in it. The original was simply about a documentary crew who end up in the wrong stretch of river. This one borrows ideas from similar monster movies about science and experiments and ‘saving mankind’ and has this random assortment of suburbanites heading straight for the most remote place on Earth with little expertise. After establishing the fish-out-of-water scenario with the city slickers finding life on board the primitive boat to be difficult and then things like mobile phones not working, Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid has more going for it during the first half of the film. The pacing is better and there are more incidents involving the snake (before the characters realise that there’s a snake) to build up the anticipation that the second half will continue to improve – regardless of the dumb MacGuffin stringing the narrative along. Sadly, that is not the case and the film sinks when the snakes do start to pick off the cast. But it’s not just the snakes they’ve got to contend with – the script writers saw fit to include a whole host of adventure movie tropes in here to throw in front of the characters (as if giant snakes wasn’t enough). They are obviously buying time here because they don’t want to show the audience the snakes.

This is where the third problem lies – the snakes themselves. The anacondas take far too long in thinning out the cardboard cut-out characters, but you’ll be glad they hold off on them for as much time as they do because they look lousy. Despite there being a seven-year gap between films, Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid showcases even worse special effects than before. Let’s face it, the original snake didn’t look great in its CGI form, but the effects department did use a relatively sinister-looking animatronic snake for some of the shots. Here we have neither – there’s no ‘real’ effects to be seen and the CGI has gotten progressively worse. Considering that Anaconda was one of the big reasons that Sy Fy began churning out terrible monster movies with ever-worsening special effects, its not surprising to see that the film’s own sequel falls into the same trap.

 

Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid is almost like watching someone try to remake a film with a lower budget, a lesser cast and a worse script. Oh wait, that’s what it is. This sequel should have gone to the dogs in straight-to-TV hell like the next two sequels. Something full of this many clichés, awful special effects, terrible writing and poor casting choices should never see the light of day in the cinema.

 

 ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Related Movies

Post a comment