Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid

The biggest surprise about Anacondas:  The Hunt for the Blood Orchid is that it is nowhere as bad as it looks and sounds.  Granted, it's still bad, but it could have been a lot worse.  It's a sequel to the 1997 movie Anaconda, a surprisingly campy horror trash movie that starred Jon Voight, Ice Cube, Jennifer Lopez, and Owen Wilson, some of them before they became really big stars (others like Eric Stolz and Kari Wuhrer don't really count).  Nobody asked for a sequel, yet here one is.  There are a bunch more nameless photogenic actors, all hoping to recreate Lopez's eventual route to superstardom.  Sadly, the script is so limp that it's hard to even remember their character's names.  Hunt for the Blood Orchid is basically a stupid movie that people can chuckle at while watching.  One could say that the acting is dreadful, but then again, the actors manage not to laugh while uttering their lines, so that says something about their ability.

This time around, a group of scientists are looking for the blood orchid, a rare plant that blooms once every seven years in Borneo.  They believe it holds the secret to immortality, and the only have two weeks to find it.  Unfortunately, it is the rainy season, and only one captain is willing to take them up river (Johnny Messner, The Whole Ten Yards, Spartan), and he looks like a Pumped-up Guy Pearce.  His first mate is the Token Asian (Karl Yune).  In fact, the script nicely provides roles to each major ethnicity, as to cast a wide a net as possible in getting people to see this movie.  Alas, no roles for Middle Easterners or Indians.  The necessary conflict comes from Morris Chestnut (Breakin' All the Rules, Confidence) and a British Guy (Matthew Marsden, Black Hawk Down, Shiner), who are hungry for profit, and an Attractive Black Woman (Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Biker Boyz, Antwone Fisher), who is worried about the safety of the expedition.

The other random people are a White Girl (KaDee Strickland, The Stepford Wives, Something's Gotta Give), Hispanic Guy (Nicholas Gonzalez, Spun, Scenes of the Crime), and another Black Guy (Eugene Byrd, 8 Mile, Demon Island).  One nice thing is that while everybody knows that most of the people will die, it's a complete toss-up as to who will survive.  For such a conventional movie to have something unexpected is actually refreshing.  But this is one nice drop is a sea of awfulness.  One hopes that Anacondas would be bad in a fun way, but it is more dull in a bad way.  The aforementioned anacondas are plentiful and much too fake looking.  They are nothing but big shiny CGI constructs hanging from trees, slithering out of rivers, and everywhere else.  The best actor in the movie isn't even human, but a monkey that director Dwight H. Little (Deep Blue, Rapid Fire) cuts to constantly.  His little faces and expressions are by far the most amusing thing about the film.

One of the first clues about the quality of this film is the writing credits.  Ready?  Here goes.  The story is credited to Hans Bauer (Highwaymen, Titan A.E.), and Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr. (Viva Rock Vegas, Dick Tracy), who wrote the original film.  The screenplay credit goes to John Clafin, Daniel Zelman, Michael Miner (Cosmic Voyage, Lawnmower Man 2), and Ed Neumeier (Starship Troopers, Robocop).  That's seven people to come up with a piece of junk.  They couldn't even make it trashy fun.  Most of the intended comic relief comes up flat, and it's just plain sad that they couldn't create one memorable character. It's just lots of bad dialogue in a place where there aren't even any anacondas.  Hunt for the Blood Orchid also takes its time in setting everything up, with nothing happening for about twenty minutes.  Things after that move mercifully (if not lamely) quick.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad
1 hour, 33 minutes, Rated PG-13 for action violence, scary images, and language.

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