In the (not) grand tradition of such films as "Mimic II" and "Species III", "Anacondas: Hunt for the Blood Orchid" (which will be just "Anacondas" from here on out) is another attempt at building a franchise on an extraordinarily shaky foundation. The originals of all three movies weren't anything classic - they knew that - but they were enjyable enough genre fare that moved along quickly and offered decent effects. In this case, there was the silly first movie, where J-Lo, Ice Cube, Owen Wilson and Jon Voight were chased around the jungle by a giant snake. The amazing thing is that it took no less than seven writers - three of them (Jim Cash, Hans Bauer, Jack Epps, Jr.) credited with story and four (Michael Miner, Ed Neumeier, John Clafin, Daniel Zelman) with the screenplay.
This time around, we're presented with a series of medical company personel (lead by Morris Chestnut's Gordon) is sent to the jungles of Borneo to try and retrieve a mysterious orchid that contains the "pharmaceutical equivalent of the fountain of youth", obviously a pricey treasure that could make everyone involved very rich. Obviously, there's little chance of a successful mission, as we all know that there's some rather big snakes that are hungry for generic actors. After their boat goes over a waterfall and doesn't exactly land well, the characters are out on their own versus the snakes. This time, the creatures aren't shown much and they don't look as good as the CG creations from the first film did.
The performances are pretty lame (a trained monkey that accompanies the crew is pretty amusing, though), as none of the no-name actors comes close to the legendarily goofy, over-the-top performance of Jon Voight in the original film. The sequel is also obviously operating on a smaller budget than the first film, which shows not only in the effects, but in pretty much every other aspect of the film, down to the production design and lack of action. It all moves along at a fairly decent clip, but none of it is memorable and the picture isn't even entertaining in that "so bad it's good" way that the first film often was.
VIDEO: "Anacondas" is presented by Columbia/Tristar in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 full-frame. Both editions of the film are available via the main menu. The anamorphic widescreen presentation is fairly good, showing off the low-budget production well and only suffering from a couple of relatively minor concerns. Sharpness and detail remained solid throughout much of the presentation, as the picture appeared crisp and well-defined aside from a few slightly soft shots.
Flaws appeared, but there really wasn't anything too considerable. The film remained free of edge enhancement throughout, but some slight traces of pixelation were visible on a couple of occasions and the film did show some minor grain at times. Colors remain nicely saturated and bold, with no smearing or other faults. Overall, the presentation at least shows off the pretty locations well.
SOUND: "Anacondas" is presented by Columbia/Tristar in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's audio isn't as aggressive as the first film's, which immersed the viewer in jungle sounds. This time, there's some light ambience in the surrounds, but nothing like the first film's. Some sound effects also come into play from the surrounds, as well. Audio quality was fine, as the score seemed dynamic and clear, while dialogue sounded well-recorded.
EXTRAS: A short visual effects featurette, a few minutes of deleted scenes (no optional commentary) and previews for "Breakin' All The Rules", "Hitch" and "Are We There Yet?".
Final Thoughts: "Anacondas" isn't a complete loss, but it's not a silly, fun genre flick, like the original was. Columbia/Tristar's DVD edition offers good video quality, fine audio and a couple of supplements. I'd recommend skipping it, although hardcore fans of the original may want to check this out as a rental.