In the 1970s, Jaws taught us to fear the water. Twenty years later, filmmakers taught us to fear snakes through 1997’s Anaconda. Anaconda boasts early career performances of both Jennifer Lopez and rapper turned actor, Ice Cube. The film was different kind of entry into the creature feature genre. Perhaps it was a product of the time but this creature feature boasts quite an impressive cast. Side note, most films that I’ve come across usually do not. Joining Lopez and Cube, are academy award winner, Jon Voight, Jumanji’s Jonathon Hyde, and a young Owen Wilson.
Upon it’s rather impressive cast, Anaconda tells the story of a documentary filmmaker, played by Lopez, filming a documentary on a Native American tribe. It’s only when the crew meets Paul, played by Voight, the crew gets hijacked and forced to redirect their attention in search of the legendary green anaconda. For the majority of its’ storytelling, the film feels like a pretty grounded piece of cinema. In its’ opening, it establishes the rules of the universe: anacondas can grow up to 40 feet. Which in reality is only ten more feet than the maximum growth of an anaconda in real life. Anaconda’s pacing unfolds naturally for the first half of the film, It’s only when the true intentions of Voight’s character that the pacing and narrative fall off balance for a good 15-20 minutes to follow. Which doesn’t feel like much but in retrospective, that’s almost a third of the film with narrative and pacing issues.
Even early in their careers, Cube and Lopez, still manage to deliver engaging performances. Cube’s Danny feels like comic relief within the first few encounters. Thanks in large part to his charm the character grows to be an essential piece of the plot for the film. Ice Cube continues with Anaconda to remind us why we first fell in love with him as an actor. This creature feature provides a different layer to the actor’s resume and forever stands out as a highlight within his filmography. As it also does for lead actress, Jennifer Lopez. Lopez brings an energy to the film that is hard to match from her co-stars. By the time the credits, role you’ll honestly wish that this and 2000’s The Cell weren’t the only horror offerings from the dancer turned actress.
Then you have the film’s antagonist in Jon Voight. Voight’s Paul is a catholic priest turned snake hunter. Voight is an academy award winning actor and I get everyone has their bad days. I felt less and less like I was watching Voight and more like I was watching Tommy Wiseau’s The Room audition. Voight falls prey to the same thing that Elizabeth Banks fell in 2017’s Power Rangers reboot. Aforementioned, this film feels pretty grounded for the majority of its storytelling and narrative. It obeys the laws of its universe fairly well. It does a good job at dispensing terror and intensity. Voight, however, sticks out like a sore thumb without the duration of this movie. As the film progresses and his intentions start to surface – the more over-the-top he becomes. It’s a shame to have an actor of this caliber deliver a performance this bad.
Overall, Anaconda, is a purely fun film. Thanks in part to solid performances from leads in Jennifer Lopez and Ice Cube. The film does a good job at building its narrative and terror. Perhaps delivering the same level of a fear a certain shark did only decades before. The film’s antagonist in Oscar winner, Jon Voight, is a bit overacted. To say Voight feels out of place would be an understatement. Still, Anaconda, is a good popcorn film and potential for guilty pleasure.
RORSCHACH RATING SCALE:
And more importantly, if you or someone you know is struggling with suicide, addiction, self-harm or depression - please free feel to reach out. Use any our resources, call the suicide lifeline (1-800-273-8255) or text 741-741.
Credits: Anaconda is property of Sony Pictures and Mill Creek Entertainment. We do not own nor claim any rights. To pick up a copy of the movie, click here.