Director: Luis Llosa
Writer: Hans Bauer, Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr.
Starring: Jon Voight, Jennifer Lopez and Eric Stoltz
This film begins in a boat on the Amazon River. There is a man who is played by Danny Trejo who is trying to call for help on a radio, but he cannot raise anyone. We see through the eyes of something that chases him up the radio tower on his boat. While up there, he kills himself with a hand gun.
We then shift to a documentary film crew that is going down the Amazon. They are looking for a Native American tribe that lives in the remote jungle. The director of the film crew is played by Jennifer Lopez. She is dating a doctor of anthropology who is played by Eric Stoltz. He is an expert on tribes that live in the Amazon. Lopez’s camera man is played by Ice Cube, her sound guy is Owen Wilson and the production manager is Kari Wuhrer. The man on camera will be Jonathan Hyde as he will be the narrator.
Their barge is captained by Vincent Castellanos. Early on we learn the different aspect of the characters. Hyde is uppity and has refined tastes, bringing expensive wine and golf clubs. Wilson and Wuhrer are seeing each other, with both of them acting somewhat childish.
As they begin their journey, they find a boat that is tangled some roots. The man on this boat is Jon Voight. He tells them that he is a snake catcher, which Lopez calls him out for being a poacher. There is a moment where Voight and Castellanos look at each other, which they seem to know who the other is, but nothing is shared. Voight just asks if they can take him to the next village so they can help him free his boat.
It actually turns out that they have might need to work together. Voight reveals that he knows the tribe of Native Americans they are looking for. He offers to help him. He doesn’t reveal what he is actually trying to do though. The barge comes upon a snake totem and Voight suggests they take a path at a ford. Stoltz disagrees, stating that his logic is off and that way should be flooded. They take the other route.
Their barge gets stuck in some foliage and Stoltz goes into the water to free them. Before he can he panics and begins to convulse. When he is brought back on the barge, his mouth is opened to reveal a wasp. It is large and poisonous. He can’t breathe due to the stings, but Voight saves his life by giving him a tracheotomy with a knife and a pen casing. It is then decided that they have to go down the ford he said if they want to get to a hospital in time to save Stoltz.
The problem is that this other way is blocked by a wall. Voight has dynamite and wants to blow it up. Lopez contends that the wall is there for a reason and that they do not know what. She is overruled to save Stoltz’s life.
Soon after this, they come upon Trejo’s boat. He is nowhere to be found, but we see a newspaper clipping of Voight, Trejo and Castellanos all together. They do not find anything on the boat of use, except for Voight’s weapon’s case. Castellanos doesn’t make it back though. We watch as a giant anaconda makes a meal of him. They decide the following morning to move on when they cannot find him.
Voight then reveals that he wants to catch this giant anaconda. He shows the crew the skin that it had shed a couple years ago. He tries to sway their help with money and gets Wilson to agree. Cube, Lopez, Wuhrer and Hyde just want to get out alive. Wilson actually goes as far to say since they cannot do their filming of the tribe, that they should film Voight catching this snake. They all disagree, but Voight pulls a gun out, making their decision really easy, they will try to catch this snake. The problem is this giant animal won’t be taken easily. Will they kill the snake or capture it alive? Will Voight get his way? How many will survive this crazy idea? Can they make it out of the Amazon? Will Stoltz survive the poison in his system?
I have to say that this film isn’t all that bad. I think the ratings that many give this are a little harsh. Is this film amazing? No, not by any stretch, but it also is not that bad either. The acting is okay; by far none of these people are at their best in this film. I do have to say that the snake attacks are pretty solid though. I think the snake itself when it comes face to face with characters is a little unrealistic, but the CGI of when it is killing is really good. The story itself is pretty solid as well. It is kind of similar to King Kong, but instead of a giant ape, it is a giant snake. There are some things that are a little bit unbelievable, but nothing there that completely ruins it for me.
I have kind of laid out my issues with the film already, but I will just re-iterate. Lopez seemed a little bland in this film, Cube is stereotypical and Voight’s accent is horrible. Nothing about him screamed to me that he was from South America. The rest of the cast was decent at best. I also was completely confused by if Castellanos understands English or not, because at one point he knows very little. Nearing the time of his death in the film, he seems to understand everything. I also was highly confused about Stoltz and him needing to taken to a hospital. The way the film states it, he is poisoned and needs to get there fast. The way everyone acts after that it seems like if he gets there eventually he will survive. It even gets to the point where he helps save Lopez and other characters when I thought he was dying. Doesn’t ruin the film, but I had to question it.
I would say that all in all, I would say give this one a viewing. It is not amazing by any stretch. If you like big animal monster films, I would give this a viewing. You are going to get decent acting, an okay storyline, but the film is really driven by the animal. The death scenes become a little repetitive, but they at least look pretty realistic. This one can be enjoyed at least once or if you want to see a horror film with your friends, this one has potential for a few laughs. There are better large animal films out there, but this one is still pretty decent.
My Rating: 6 out of 10