Anacondas
dir. Little
Opens Fri Aug 27
Various Theaters

I only ask two things from scary movies about giant snakes: a) they're scary, and b) they feature a lot of giant snakes.

Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid fails to deliver on both of my admittedly simplistic criteria. Not only is Anacondas never scary, but, more importantly, there are not nearly enough giant man-eating snakes.

A sequel to 1997's thoroughly stupid Anaconda, Anacondas feels more like a straight-to-video cash-in rather than a real sequel. Case in point: the coolest part in Anaconda was when Jon Voight was swallowed by an anaconda, then regurgitated--while still alive! Say what you will about "taste" and "believability," but that scene set a whole new bar for scary movies about giant snakes.

That bar's too high for Anacondas, as all it can offer is a D-grade script that cribs from Aliens, Jaws, Jurassic Park, and--at its lowest point--those Verizon commercials with the "Can you hear me now?" guy. The characters are all stereotypical and annoying, but that's okay--they're doomed to be snake-food, anyway. Stuck in the Borneo jungle, they're searching for a rare flower, the Blood Orchid. Problem is, they forgot to read the chapter in their Lonely Planet guidebook about the jungle's vicious, 50-foot long anacondas.

Whether it's for budgetary reasons or just because director Dwight Little knows how bad Anacondas' CG is, the snakes only show up briefly until the film's final ten minutes. Once the fake-looking snakes come out, however, Anacondas actually gets kind of fun: snakes attack, snakes get stabbed, there's a snake orgy, one snake gets set on fire, and it's especially rad when this one snake gets stuck in a hole, Winnie the Pooh-style, and then a chick lops off its head with a machete.

And then--after what would be a pretty unspectacular action sequence in any other film--the end credits roll, and the audience is left with one painfully unanswered question: Where's the regurgitated Jon Voight?