Let me get the obvious out of the way first: this movie fucking sucked. Hard.
But it could’ve been worse. I could’ve been watching it hoping to be scared, for one thing. It could’ve been longer, for another. But I had already resigned myself to the fact that this would be an utter crapfest, and rather predictably, that’s what it was.
Knowing that you’re about to watch a crapfest tends to change your attitude just enough to make the movie fun to watch for at least the 90 minutes that you spend in front of it. And this is exactly what the experience was like last night, with my friends and I making fun of all the silly, predictable things that those cardboard cutouts onscreen were doing.
Everybody in this film is a cardboard cutout, from the crusty but benign riverboat captain, to the greedy expedition leader to the panicky computer-geek black dude. At least the rhesus monkey, Kong, was decent: he could at least act like a real monkey. The actors couldn’t even act like real humans.
I swear to God. When the most relatable character in a film is a twelve-inch-tall primate, you know you’ve got some major roblems.
But what bothered me most about this film wasn’t the acting, or the fact that it made no sense. It was that lack of imagination that seemed to pervade each snake scene. If there had been more violence, instead of lots of shots of people trying to act like they were screaming and running, it would have at the very least, made things interesting. They didn’t have to come up with any monster ideas themselves; I’d have been equally as glad if they had just rehashed some old favorites from better monster films.
This movie needed to have a scene where characters are swallowed then regurgitated in a writhing, partially-digested state (see the original Anaconda and Deep Rising), and scenes where characters are dismembered by several snakes fighting over them (see Jurassic Park 2). It also needed a scene where one of the characters would valiantly fight back, but is ultimately overcome after succeeding to wound the snake but not kill it (see Predator). Or a scene where the lovable comic relief escapes the monster by quick thinking and convenient set design, and then throws a punchline that makes the audience cheer (LL Cool J in Deep Blue Sea). Or a scene where the humans setup an elaborate trap that captures the anaconda momentarily, but is bungled by the ineptness of one of the well-meaning but stupid characters, and results in the death of the trap’s mastermind (see Lake Placid, although my memory of this movie is hazy at best).
See, any of those additions would have made this movie ten times better for me, but there was nothing even remotely like that, anywhere. Instead we get a shitty explosion ending, with a convenient fuel barrel and a miraculous flare gun. In a monster movie, you should never, ever have an explosion ending unless one or more of the characters have to sacrifice themselves in order to set off the explosion (see Aliens), and that particular ending is only effective if the character was weak and self-centered throughout the movie and only realizes during the climax that he must do something brave for his friends to survive.
It’s sad that this movie couldn’t have been made by a more self-aware director, because it could’ve been better simply by paying attention to what other monster movies were already doing. But as it stands, it didn’t even try.