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20th Century Fox presents
Python (2000)

"We are talking about the perfect killing machine, a 129-foot, all-terrain vehicle capable of speeds exeeding 50 MPH!"
- Dr. Anton Rudolph (Robert Englund)

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: February 26, 2001

Stars: Frayne Rosenoff, Wil Wheaton, Casper Van Dien
Other Stars: Jenny McCarthy, Robert Englund
Director: Richard Clabaugh

Manufacturer: CMCA
MPAA Rating: R for (violence and gore, some strong sexuality and language)
Run Time: 01h:39m:41s
Release Date: January 16, 2001
UPC: 024543011415
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

If physical pain could somehow be condensed and diluted into movie form, Python might just be the prototype for future experiments on audiences in "pain theater." Yes, it hurts to watch this film. Perhaps not as much as, say, your average Pauly Shore vehicle, but there is a definite sting nonetheless. As giant animal movies go, you could do a lot better, but I doubt you could do much worse.

Python is a pretty simplistic movie. A cargo plane carrying a giant python crashes in the forest near an average small town. Almost immediately, the python goes about killing the locals. A group of friends (Frayne Rosanoff, Wil Wheaton, Sara Mornell) are suspected of somehow being involved in the deaths. After almost an hour of film time, people finally get the idea it's actually the giant python killing people (which is a good guess, since everyone was melted with stomach acid), and so it must be stopped. Mixed in is a subplot about a large corporation wanting the snake for a research project, led by Dr. Anton Rudolph (Robert Englund). The company tries to stop the creature, but fails miserably and, instead, two local people are left to destroy it. This is one of those films with severe tunnel vision, where the few characters we're introduced to are, seemingly, the only people in the world as far as the story is concerned. Interestingly enough, one of the major plot holes in this film is the fact that the initial plane crash is never investigated at all.

The most immediate thing that brings Python down, almost right from the very beginning, is the style in which it was made. The filmmakers though it would be funny (I presume), to make the whole thing very tongue-in-cheek with lots of humor and purposefully stupid characters. While that's not a bad idea in theory, figuring out what's supposed to be purposefully stupid and unintentionally stupid becomes a challenging game that you'll just give up on about 15 minutes into the movie. By the 35 minute mark, you'll probably run, screaming into the night. The gags in the movie are horribly stale and executed so as not to be even remotely laughable. I'll leave it to you, the viewer, to absorb the various "kooky characters," but I think I speak for most when I say you'll not laugh; at least, not WITH the film.

The acting is certainly not worth celebration either. While a few people do what they can with their roles, the most screen time is given to unbearable characters. I could taste the desire to kill during the AWFUL "comedic" sequence in which ex-porn star/ex-MTV star Jenny McCarthy makes her "cameo" appearance; a long running gag in which she flirts with a sleazy real-estate agent. Or how about the bumbling deputy who outstays his welcome about 5 seconds after appearing? Casper Van Dien is exceptionally awful as the special security force leader who eventually hunts down the giant python. Now, I don't really mind Van Dien (of course, I've only seen him in Starship Troopers), but here he's just taking up space, and is it just me, or was he trying out some weird western-twang-cockney accent that just didn't work out? Robert Englund is basically his usual self, but his role is too short to appreciate.

I'd discuss the python a bit more, but he makes very few appearances. In fact, the python doesn't make any substantial appearances until almost one hour into the film. Special effects-wise the giant snake is passable; mainly done with average CGI and one rubber tail used as the "snake is escaping" tool. Some of the CG is pretty weak, though, especially when it spits the acid, but I doubt anyone will really care about the quality since it never spends too much time on screen. Don't bother with logic issues about what snakes can and cannot do; this film just jettisons all zoological facts in favor of a fictional snake. Now, that's not a bad thing since you kinda have to do that to make giant animal movies, so I suppose it's the least disappointing aspect.

I could go on for hours about everything wrong with this movie, but I think you get the general idea. Even for a mindless monster movie, Python fails in many crucial ways. Mainly in the fact that it attempts to mimic other, better films, with little success (including an opening credits sequence that owes more than it should to Seven). There's a few, sparse moments where the filmmakers obviously tried twisting the genre a little to be funny, but something immediately before or afterwards brings it down. I also think people in general are growing very weary of these kinds of movies that totally get rid of any and all logic. Sure, Python sort of makes fun of it's own problems, but even those attempts at self-aware humor are growing old. Why can't these low-budget, aspiring productions do something interesting with their technology and resources? We need another dumb, poorly made, killer animal movie like we need another Dracula remake. Anaconda, though pretty lame, is a much better "giant snake" film and worth recommending well over this one.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: F


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The 1:85:1 image looks good overall, but it seems overly soft in some areas. While there are no issues with compression, many scenes have badly varying image aspects. During some sequences, black level will go from normal to washed out. It would seem that portions of the film with special effects suffer from this most, where the grain and general quality of the color is worsened by the rotoscoping work and other techniques used to place the CG snake into the scene. This seems to be the problem with some kinds of productions, depending on the budget, so it's forgivable. Otherwise, the transfer is pretty solid with no stand out problems or flaws.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1 audio track is pretty uneventful. I can't recall any fantastic surround usage, and even the front soundstage is pretty tame. Very little directionality is used, but the movie still sounds pretty decent. All the sound elements are well balanced and nothing overpowers anything else. The mix is functional, but not really what you'd expect from a solid 5.1 mix. The Dolby Surround audio is slightly quieter and less dynamic, but sounds almost the same in terms of directionality and clarity.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in Spanish, English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Lake Placid, The Abyss, Ravenous
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Richard Clabaugh w/ visual effects artist Kevin Little and animation supervisor Andrew Hoffman.
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Outtakes reel.
  2. Fact file on pythons.
Extras Review: Though not advertised on the case, a commentary track with the director and two members of the effects team is present. The track should have been called "Anatomy of a Disaster," as that is the best description I can offer. The three folks make lots of apologetic remarks about some of the lousier scenes and get into arguments over which special effects and scenes suck more. It's nice to see the director at least admitting the film has problems. Studio interference caused the most problems, it would seem. Most of the commentary in the second half of the film deals with discussing all the stuff that WAS in the film, but then omitted for unclear reasons (including elaborate FX sequences, stuntwork, and action scenes).
The outtakes reel is about 2 minutes long and has a few, admittedly funny mistakes. In fact, skip the movie, and watch these outtakes.
The factoid section (called Still Gallery on Pythons) is just a few pages of information about real-life pythons.
There's some basic bios on some of the talent, and there are three trailers for other Fox releases that "you might like if you liked Python." I can see Lake Placid, but The Abyss or Ravenous?

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

This disc reminds me very much of the eerily similar Komodo, which is actually slightly more enjoyable than this film. Avoid this film at all costs if you see it on the rental shelves. I have no idea what 20th Century Fox was thinking in picking this up for distribution, but you could probably throw a dart at random movie titles and come up with something far more entertaining.


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