If you choose to see any movie about an enormous, lethal snake, “Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid” would be your best bet.
The sequel to the 1997 movie that featured bigger names and a bigger budget knocked its predecessor out of the water with genuinely funny camp and tongue-in-cheek performances.
“Anacondas” is carried by a virtually unknown cast, with the exception of the questionable presence of Morris Chestnut, whose much-hyped celebrity did little to affect the movie one way or the other.
Chestnut portrayed Gordon Mitchell, one of the executives of a high profile company whose scientists discover a Southeast Asian flower- the Blood Orchid- that has the ability to make cells replicate indefinitely.
The company realizes if they can acquire specimens of this flower, then they can produce the pharmaceutical equivalent of the fountain of youth, which they project, will be “bigger than penicillin.”
The only catch is, the orchid in question only blooms every seven years for a short amount of time. So, the company rushes a team of its scientists and executives out to the Padrang Province in Borneo to round up samples of the flower.
However, there are only two weeks left in the orchid’s blooming period, putting the team in a rush that proves from the very beginning to be the downfall of the mission even before the anacondas enter the picture.
Led by Dr. Jack Byron (played by Matthew Marsden), the lead scientist, a team of six highly unprepared, high-strung and opinionated individuals begins the expedition.
At the height of the island’s rainy season, no boat captains will carry the team down river to gather the orchids in a sequestered part of the jungle. So the crew finds itself aboard a less-than-stable boat captained by Bill Johnson (played by Johnny Messner), a gruff, cynical man whose only friends seem to be his annoying monkey and co-captain, Tran, a native of Borneo.
Messner’s depiction of chip-on-my-shoulder Captain Johnson and Eugene Byrd’s constant comedic relief as Cole put the real bite back in the film when the laughably obvious or annoyingly stupid plot turns threaten to strangle it.
After the prerequisite strained sexual and professional relationships between members of the team have been set up, the party of eight find itself without a boat, a working cell phone or any real expectation of getting home alive. Then…the killing starts.
Aside from the fact anacondas aren’t found in Southeast Asia at all, so the entire story is impossibly flawed, the most unbelievable thing about this movie is how the team and captains trudge on in search of the orchid despite every type of imaginable adversity. It becomes blatantly obvious that the real hunt is the pursuit of green paper, not red flowers. Knowing that greed and stupidity rather than bad luck brought about the characters’ deaths makes it easier to not feel bad about their untimely demises.
Instead, you can enjoy the movie’s self-deprecating tone and obvious humor.
Also, the story doesn’t fail to deliver the betrayal, humorous panic attacks, sexual tension and moments of randomly inspired bravery expected of any whimsical thriller.
“Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid” will make you leave the theater almost ashamed to admit you enjoyed it, but unable to really say otherwise.
Its saving grace is that it knows better than to take itself seriously, a conclusion the original “Anaconda” failed to come to. Despite the entertaining droll, it’s still a film about giant snakes attacking pharmaceutical company executives in search of a flower in the middle of the jungle.
Making this movie was either the bravest or the stupidest thing Sony could have done. In the words of Captain Johnson, “It’s a fine line.”
contact Tara Lynn Pixley at email@example.com.