Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Anaconda: Superbit (1997)
"Never look into the eyes of someone you kill, they will haunt you forever. I know!"- Paul Sarone (Jon Voight)
Stars: Jenifer Lopez, Jon Voight, Ice Cube, Eric Stoltz, Jonathan Hyde, Owen Wilson, Keri Wuhrer, Danny Trejo
Director: Luis Llosa
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, sexuality, violence
Run Time: 01h:38m:47s
Release Date: 2002-08-27
DVD ReviewThe first time I saw Anaconda was at a drive-in when it was first released and watching this creature feature projected on that enormous screen gave me chills. Not because the movie is scary, though at times it is downright creepy, but because this film is a brilliant blend of special effects and terrific filmmaking, aimed at entertainment. Like Alligator, Jaws, Piranha, and even Crocodile before it, Anaconda manages to take an animal that is likely to be found far from your home, and scares you to a point where you are afraid to step outside of your house.
When an anthropology professor (Stoltz), a documentary director (Lopez), her cameraman (Cube) and an assorted cast of snake food travel down the Amazon in search of a mystical tribe, they get more than they bargain for. Not long into their journey, the group rescues a snake hunter named Paul Sarone (Voight) who charms them into trusting him when he says that he knows the location of the tribe they're trying to find. Little do they know that Sarone has his own agenda; he's after a forty-foot anaconda and will lead the film crew into danger if it means capturing the snake.
There is little to be taken seriously in Anaconda, a fact that works in the film's favor. As a straight forward B movie, it is exceptional in the way that it follows creature feature convention to perfection. The look of the film is one of its masterstrokes; the eerie jungle locations are captured wonderfully by Jaws cinematographer Bill Butler, which adds such terrific ambience. Butler uses numerous shots in the jungle sequences, always finding unusual angles. Take for instance a sequence involving Owen Wilson's character as he wires a bridge for demolition. The shot, which lasts all of twenty seconds, is perfectly executed, and at one point shows the character as if we are looking at him from underneath the bridge. These shots are effectively creepy, fitting for this sort of film.
Director Luis Llosa uses an interesting approach in that he makes the creature one of the central characters, giving the snake its own point-of-view shot as it stalks its prey. I also admire that the snake never looks overly real or fake. In just the right blend, the animatronic snake is more convincing at times than any computer could create.
Jennifer Lopez does a very good job, while supporting performances from Ice Cube, Owen Wilson, and Eric Stoltz are good and campy. The real star of the film is Voight, who plays his character so over-the-top it is almost laughable, yet the veteran actor manages to make Sarone effectively haunting and sinister. This part helped Voight to get more high scale work during his comeback, and it can be argued that he has not been this terrific since.
Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B-
|Aspect Ratio||2.35:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: The previous disc was blessed with a nice image transfer rarely found in the early days of DVD, so it is a pleasant surprise that the Superbit release actually improves upon the original. The film has a sort of three-dimensional look here that is every bit superior to any version of the picture I have ever seen. Colors are vibrant in the early sequences and nicely subdued as the action goes deeper into the jungle. Sharpness and detail are absolutely stunning, giving the transfer a very film-like look that rivals any I have seen recently. I noticed no pixelation or edge enhancement throughout.
Image Transfer Grade: A
Audio Transfer Review: As is the case with Superbit releases, Anaconda features both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS surround mixes. Both are reference quality with a wonderfully constructed mix that carries both ambient sounds as well as terrific directional effects. The surround speakers are almost constantly active with directional effects that offer a real "you are there" feel. Bass is tight and will shake the room on more than one occasion, especially in the action-filled finale. Dialogue is crisp and clear and blends well with the overactive left and right speakers.
The DTS track shows a tighter separation between channels compared to the Dolby Digital track, though you really can't go wrong either way.
Audio Transfer Grade: A
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai with remote access
Extras Review: There were no extra features on the original release of Anaconda, so the Superbit edition loses no points for not including any either.
Extras Grade: D+
Final CommentsFor those who enjoy Anaconda and have been resisting the previous bare bones edition, the Superbit edition is a safe bet. As the previous disc had no features, why not go for the improved video and audio quality found on this disc? Highly recommended.
Kevin Clemons 2002-10-01