26 May 2009

Anacondas 4: Trail of Blood

This movie picks up from the events of Anacondas III. A scientist has perfected a hybrid of a Black Orchid that is capable of delivering total regeneration. Unfortunately, his anaconda test subject gains the ability to regenerate and grow to massive size. Three groups land in the same locale in the Carpathian Mountains of Eastern Europe: Amanda, a botanist (Crystal Allen) returns to happen upon a student walking in the woods; an archaeology team digging into the mountains; and mercenaries, dispatched by a dying billionaire, Murdoch, played by John Rhys-Davies (oh, Gimli... you'll do anything for money). No one is here for the snakes, but that's what they get-- plenty of poorly animated sequences with the giant Anaconda-- it's so bad it's cartoonish. The behavior of the snake is amusing-- it knows not to kill people except when killing them creates the best ironic justice. Don't even ask how a cold-blooded killing machine can thrive in the chilly mountains of Eastern Europe; or how the snake keeps popping back from total destruction like a video game character.
This movie was made back-to-back with Anacondas III, but it lacks the star power of David Hasselhoff. This movie saw its first life on the Sci-Fi Channel like its last installment. The franchise started in the late in the 1990s with some heavy star power and has sunk to this point. Basically, the movie amounts to lots of running around, some gun play, one or two clever moments, shots of bad CGI snakes and some shots set in snako-vision. By having three groups with competing agendas and throwing some guns into the mix, there is some manufactured drama and action. Shot in daylight with telegraphed moves its direction saps almost all of the suspense out of this topic. It doesn't need to be this mediocre, but it is. The best way to survive this movie is at 1.5 times speed. It then takes on a comical, Keystone Coppers / Benny Hill quality that makes it much more enjoyable. (Recommended audio track: Yakety Sax.).
When you're reaching for Anacondas 4 on the DVD shelf, veer left and grab the much better first in the series from 1997.


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