I have been an avid moviegoer for the vast majority of my life, and "Anaconda" has the distinction of being the only movie that I've ever walked out of. Now, five years later, I decided to give the movie a second-chance, and what better way than with the newly released "Superbit" DVD?
"Anaconda" tells the story of a documentary film crew who are exploring the Amazon, searching for an elusive, mythical tribe. Led by director Terri Flores (Jennifer Lopez) and guide Dr. Steven Cale (Eric Stoltz), the group begins their journey. Soon, during a heavy storm, they find a shipwrecked stranger, Paul Sarone (Jon Voight) and take him on board. Sarone explains that he is a snake-hunter by trade, but can lead them to the tribe that they seek. However, it soon becomes obvious that Sarone has other plans and uses the crew as bait to capture a giant and vicious anaconda.
As I watched this film again, I began to remember (besides some elements that I couldn't control)why I left the theater that first time. "Anaconda" has an interesting premise, but it goes nowhere. The film's main sin is that we simply don't get enough snake! Where's the snake! It takes a very long time for the anaconda to first appear, and then it makes only scant appearances after that. Despite some questionable CGI work, when the snake is on-screen, the film is exciting, but otherwise, this is a dud. The characters are flat and uninteresting and most of the dialogue is laughable.
And then, we have Jon Voight's performance. This, along with the fleeting glimpses of the snake, may be the only real reason to see "Anaconda". Voight is playing a character from Paraguay, whose voice sounds like a cross between Marlon Brando and Pepe Le Pew. From the second Sarone first appears on-screen, we have dubious feelings about him due to the fact that Voight is constantly hamming it up. Also, I have serious issues with horror films that insist on having a villain outside of the main protagonist (which, in theory, is the snake in this film). Sarone is such an over-the-top character, that the snake seems quite dull in comparison.
Considering the respectable cast that it boasts (Owen Wilson is in this? Really?), one would expect "Anaconda" to be at least passable entertainment. But, the film, despite some interesting shots by director Luis Llosa is boring and predictable...save for Voight's performance. I don't think any of us saw that coming.
As this DVD of "Anaconda" is a "SuperBit" title, one would expect a superior picture and this DVD definitely delivers. And, living up to its name, the disc delivers a consistent bitrate of 6-8 mbps. The film is presented in an anamorphic widescreen and has been letterboxed at 2.35:1. The image is very sharp and clear, and one must look very closely to see the fine grain, even in the daytime shots. There is virtually no evidence of artifacting here, and only the slightest hint of edge enhancement. The colors are rich and true, and the fleshtones are very realistic. Overall, this is a superior transfer.
If you're impressed by the picture on this DVD, then just wait until you hear the sound! This disc boasts both a DTS 5.1 track, as well as a Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Both tracks are very bold and muscular, and both gave my speakers a real workout. Each track provides clear and audible dialogue, with no hiss. Each also delivers nice stereo seperation and a constant use of surround sound -- especially with all of the jungle and river sounds. The differences between the two tracks are minor, but they are there. The DTS track offers, for lack of a better word, details, as more minute sounds are discernible. Also, the dynamic range on the DTS track is narrower, and therefore, the track comes across as being better balanced. Still, both tracks are very good.
As with most of the "SuperBit" titles, there are no extras on the "Anaconda" DVD.
"Anaconda" may be a disappointing film, unless you enjoy giant snakes who are after even bigger hams, but this DVD certainly delivers the goods. The "SuperBit" DVD looks great, but the movie super-bites.