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Blu-Ray : Skip It
Release Date: March 4th, 2024 Movie Release Year: 1997

Anaconda - [Walmart Exclusive SteelBook]

Overview -

It’s one of the biggest most deadliest predators of the Amazon, and it might kill your acting career - Anaconda! The 1997 giant snake flick featured Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, and a delightfully hammy Jon Voight going toe-to-toe with a cool animatronic prop and some daffy CGI. In desperate need of a quality 4K release, the film returns to Blu-ray for the second time from Mill Creek offering up the same sad video transfer, slightly better audio, and a new interview with the film’s director in stylish SteelBook packaging. The SteelBook is lovely but the disc isn’t - Skip It

Skip It
Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Blu-ray Disc
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p AVC/MPEG-4
Audio Formats:
Release Date:
March 4th, 2024

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take


In a decade that gave us poisonous spiders, Graboids, and multiple multi-tentacled aquatic terrors, the 1990s was a heck of a year for Creature Features. As Hollywood started shifting away from practical physical effects for more digital creations, the mid to late 1990s was almost like a last hurrah for the biggest and best beasts in creature effects. You had movies like The Relic, Bats, Starship Troopers, Virus, Lake Placid, and Deep Blue Sea on top of numerous direct-to-video horror flicks all dropping within just a few years. 

Among this glut of content was 1997’s Anaconda. Directed by Luis Llosa, the flick stars a young on the rise Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Owen Wilson, and Kari Wuhrer, with Jon Voight and Eric Stoltz lending the star power. A daffy but entertaining film, it straddles that line between excellent practical effects and weightless laughably ineffective CGI. One moment we’re enjoying a prop creature stalking its prey, the next we have a silver-shiny digital creation gobbling up its target. But, since our story weighs more on the unbelievably ridiculous side of things, the disparate visual effects add to the flavor. 

In case you somehow missed this one, our film opens with crack documentary director Terri Flores (Jennifer Lopez) and her ace cameraman Danny (Ice Cube) getting ready to ship out on the Amazon with anthropologist Dr. Steven Cale (Eric Stoltz) in search of the last remaining lost tribes of jungle. Don't worry this doesn't turn into Cannibal Holocaust. With the acclaimed Warren Westridge (Jonathan Hyde) as the on-screen talent and production assistants Gary (Own Wilson) and Denise (Kari Wuhrer), they’re off on a grand adventure and surefire Natural Geographic Channel glory! But when they pick up the mysterious snake hunter Serone (Jon Voight) tragedy soon strikes the expedition as a gigantic murderous anaconda (the smooth soulful voice of Frank Welker) starts picking off the crew one by one. 

In the grand scheme of things, no one is going to accuse Anaconda of being a great film, but it’s a damned entertaining one. Made on a $45 million budget, director Luis Llosa’s creature feature overcame poor reviews and proved to be a modest global hit. A big enough hit to spawn a slew of imitators and indirect spinoffs and sequels. Effectively Jaws on the Amazon, the film lumbers from one daffy setpiece to the next with the thinnest of plots tying the show together. As the suspense increases so too does the over-use of weightless CGI. The snake’s first big kill is a pretty exciting practical effect blended with a little CGI to really sell the scaly critter’s ability to kill a grown man. By the end though, the thing is zipping through the set at whip-crack speeds devouring our cast left and right only stopping long enough to vomit up Jon Voight before moving onto its next meal. 

And speaking of our cast; talk about a fun bunch of personalities. We have Jennifer Lopez before she really hit big in films and as a recording artist. Ice Cube when he was steadily moving into more movies after the success of Friday. Owen Wilson was just a rising character actor and Kari Wuhrer was just starting to edge her way out of late-night Skinimax flicks and into mainstream movies. For some comedic personality, Jonathan Hyde stayed true to the obnoxious know-it-all role he perfected with The Mummy. Eric Stoltz is fine as the arrogant know-it-all leader but he's quickly sidelined and naps his way through 3/4 of the film. The real star is Jon Voight and his accent. Alongside Heat and U-Turn, Anaconda was part of this weird trilogy of Voight appearances when he was as gnarly, unattractive, and unappealing as possible and he really leans into the role. If you haven’t seen this movie, let’s just say Voight made choices with his performance and he delivered the 110% effort.  Upon learning Frank Welker did the “voice” of the anaconda, I can’t help but hear an asthmatic Megatron anytime that snake makes a sound.

Far from terrible but yards away from amazing, Anaconda is just one of a long line of entertaining turn-your-brain-off creature features from the ‘90s. Maybe if the production had taken the “less is more” route and minimized the CGI or greatly obscured it, the film might have been better off. As it is, it’s a crowd howler. Entertaining from start to finish, there’s never a dull moment. If you’re watching with a group of friends, take a shot every time Voight makes a creepy squinty sneer. If you’ve been around the block with this one a few times, snag the Rifftrax

Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray 

Anaconda sheds its skin for another Blu-ray release from Mill Creek. A single-disc release, the film is pressed on a BD-25 disc and comes housed in a new stylish SteelBook. The front cover of the SteelBook is pretty slick evoking the original teaser poster, but the back art replicating Mill Creek’s previous Blu-ray art looks like a weird 12-year-old girl coming-of-age film with a listless Jennifer Lopez holding the front while Ice Cube and Jon Voight look like they're watching from Creature Feature Heaven - the only thing missing is a horse leaping in silhouette against a setting sun. The disc loads to a static image main menu with standard navigation options.

Video Review


For a film that is a lot of fun, shot on location in the Amazon, and was a respectable success in theaters and on video, I’m surprised Anaconda hasn’t had a better run in HD. Back in 2009 it got its first release from Sony, but the disc wasn’t the best with a mildly appealing video transfer and audio. Then in 2019, Mill Creek threw their name into the hat for a cheap disc that turned out even worse. And now we’re here for Mill Creek’s second outing and visually it’s not any better. The film is still stuck on a BD-25, but barely uses 17 gigs of that allotment. Details barely pop, colors are either blown-out or faded down, black levels are murky, and the image is without any depth to speak of. The film grain is smeary and blobby like someone sneezed in the telecine. Given the company, it’s not surprising, but I for one am still hoping for a 4K release given this is a Columbia Pictures title and we're supposed to be enjoying that studio's 100th Anniversary. Let's start celebrating by giving fun crowd-pleaser creature features like this proper restorations and releases.  

Audio Review


On the audio side, Mill Creek at least upgraded from their past disc for a fairly good DTS-HD MA 2.0 track, but it’s still not exactly anything spectacular. Dialog is clean and clear, sound effects are well prioritized, especially that shrill snake “scream.” Scoring from composer Randy Edelman lends some suspense and excitement to the show. Overall a decent track but again not a lot to write home about considering we've heard better on other discs. 

Special Features


Unlike past releases, there’s actually a bonus feature! For this round we have a nice new interview with director Luis Llosa. At a little over 16 minutes he does cover some fun ground discussing the genesis of the film, being comfortable shooting in the Amazon after working with Roger Corman, and working with digital and practical creature effects.

  • Interview with Director Luis Llosa (HD 16:34)

Anaconda is among the last of a generation. Part of that dying breed of creature feature that was at the precipice of traditional practical effects before diving head-first into 100% CGI. Much like the cast and the story, when the titular beast looks great it’s a terrifying creature. When it doesn’t it’s a great laugh and incredibly entertaining for how silly it all is. Mill Creek gives Anaconda its third run on Blu-ray with another in a long line of iffy video transfers that make you question why these films get released in such low quality in the first place. The udio is slightly better than the last outing and the new interview with Luis Llosa is certainly interesting but not enough for a purchase. Really the only reason to pick this up is for the SteelBook, but even then I’d wait for a good and proper 4K release. As it is, my call is Skip It since the 2009 Blu-ray remains the better option.