Making the Grades
Calling Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid a "sequel" is a definite misnomer. Rather than build on the original Anaconda, this film takes the surprise moneymaker from 1997, and does the same story all over again only adding a few more snakes for good measure-thus the plural title.
You also won't find the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, or Jon Voight on this trip. They've moved upstream to better things, leaving a cast of lesser knowns to become bait for the monstrous reptiles.
Providing justification for journeying into the dangerous world of man-snacking snakes this time, is the belief of Dr. Jack Byron (Matthew Marsden) and his partner Gordon Mitchell (Morris Chestnut) that the rare Blood Orchid offers the key to extending mortality. As the founders of a research company, they've convinced the execs at pharmaceutical giant Wexell-Hall to fund their dangerous expedition into the Borneo jungle where the flower blooms for a few weeks, only once every seven years. (Yup, you guessed it. This is the year.)
Somehow, the crack team of experts doesn't figure out it's Borneo's rainy season, until they gather in Africa. The inclement weather makes getting a boat difficult, because any captain with brains won't take such a dangerous job. Enter Bill Johnson (Johnny Messner), a crusty white guy with a ramshackle craft, who looks good enough to give us hope he may survive the voyage.
To ensure a big enough cast of victims, Johnson's passenger list expands to include his right-hand local guide Tran (Karl Yune), computer nerd Cole Burris (Eugene Byrd), and Dr. Ben Douglas (Nicholas Gonzalez). And just in case they haven't captured the attention of the guys in the audience, two females join the ranks: Byron's research assistant Sam Rogers (Kadee Strickland) and Wexell-Hall rep Gail Stern (Salli Richardson-Whitfield). Now, with only days left before the petals fall, the gang is off to find the orchids.
The upcoming predictable plot demands a little creativity from the viewer in order to keep things exciting. You may want to check with your seatmates and begin a friendly betting pool on: Who will be the first snake hors d'oeuvre? How long will it take to get the women into something skimpier likely white and wet? When will we discover which one isn't acting in the group's best interest? And for bonus points, who will still be breathing at the end?
Violent images of these fine folk being devoured have a definite B-movie feel to them, but for children this film will most likely be too intense. Fertile nightmare material consists of half digested bodies and snakes with arms and legs hanging out of their bodies. Guns, knives, and poisonous spiders round out the weapons list, served up with a moderate selection of profanities (including one profane hand gesture). Thankfully, other than those obligatory white outfits, sexual content is limited to a couple of comments about Viagra, and straying from your wife.
Anacondas plays like a too-long episode of Survivor. Chock full of stereotyped and uninteresting characters (a whiny Brit, a frightened nerd, and a woman who could do infomercials with her knife-chopping abilities), this group of scientists shows little intelligence and far too much emotional reaction. That makes it difficult for us to care about who dies and who doesn't, unless you win the bet with the guy sitting next to you.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid.
Why is it important for us to “feel” something for characters on the screen? How does a large cast of characters make this task more difficult to accomplish?
Do the attitudes of these characters affect their chances of survival? Can we enhance our opportunities for success if we always work as a team? When is it right to leave a group to focus on your own needs and goals?
Home Video Viewing Alternatives
Here are some ideas for home video titles that are related to Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid.
Adventure journeys with diminishing team members have been a cinematic formula for years. Check it out in the 1959 production of Journey to the Center of the Earth. Another crusty white male takes an unlikely passenger on a river journey in The African Queen. Villainous snakes can be found in Disney’s animated films Robin Hood and The Jungle Book.