This is a classic monster snake movie with a cast of recognizable actors, unlike most of the genre, including Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Jon Voight, Eric Stoltz, and Owen Wilson. Voice actor Frank Welker even gets a credit as the voice of the Anaconda. It's one of the first of a slew of computer-generated giant monster snake movies, so it's OK to hate it for that, but at least the monster snakes we see are not all CGI. They also used animatronic effects. That's probably why they look better than the snakes in most giant snake movies. These giant Anacondas are supposed to be typical for the area and not mutations or laboratory creations, as the snakes are in most giant monster snake movies. We are told at the beginning that stories about monstrous man-eating Anacondas in the Amazon Basin have been told for centuries, and that Anacondas are the most ferocious and enormous creatures on earth. We are also told that they are not satisfied after they eat a victim. They will regurgitate their meal in order to kill and eat again.
This movie started a franchise of Anaconda movies. As of 2015, it has spawned four movies in the franchise - Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid (2004), Anacondas 3: Offspring (2008), Anacondas: Trail of Blood (2009) and a cross-franchise sequel Lake Placid vs. Anaconda (2015.)
The plot is simple: a documentary film crew charters a river boat and cruise up tributaries of the Amazon to search for and film a lost tribe that worships giant snakes.They rescue a stranded man who collects snakes for zoos and collectors, who promises that he can help them find the lost tribe. But after they learn that he is trying to catch the world's largest giant Anaconda and will stop at nothing to do so, giant Anacondas start showing up and lots of people die. The Anacondas grab them on the boat, on land, in the water, and even when they're falling over a waterfall. We see one Anaconda swimming underwater with the outline of the screaming face of its human dinner inside its belly. Another Anaconda eats a man then regurgitates him right in front of J Lo. Then he winks at her. When Ice Cube is first introduced he says "Today's a good day" which is too close to the title of his hit song "It Was a Good Day" to be an accident. And we know, having seen monster movies before, that it might be the last good day for him.
Besides the fake snakes, there are also plenty of real snakes in the movie. After the insane hunter Serone blows up a wooden dam, baby snakes and branches rain on their riverboat, including real Anacondas and Boa Constrictors. J Lo also finds a "nest" of Anacondas which are portrayed by real Anacondas.
Sure, there are a lot of inaccuracies about Anacondas in the movie, some of which I'll list below, because the too-common unrealistic depictions of snakes on screen help to promote the misunderstandings about snakes that cause so many people to fear them, but if you're watching a monster snake movie expecting to learn about natural history, you've come to the wrong place.
- Real snakes don't scream or roar or growl or make any of the monstrous sounds we hear in the movie.
- Real snakes kill for food, not because they're angry. The Anacondas in the movie eat some of their kills, but not all of them. They also regurgitate their meals just so they can kill and eat again, which means they kill out of motivations other than hunger, which is absurd and unrealistic.
- The giant Anacondas we see in the movie don't kill like real Anacondas kill. They coil around someone, then swallow them whole. Real snakes first bite the victim and hold on, using the bite as an anchor to help them coil around the prey, then they swallow it whole.
- Anacondas have round pupils. The movie snakes have vertical pupils.
- Serone the snake expert tells people that Anacondas are a perfect killing machine with heat sensors. He's referring to the heat-sensing pits found on pit vipers, but Anacondas don't have heat sensors.
- Serone tells everybody that Anacondas wrap around you and squeeze until you hear your bones break and then your veins explode. In reality, Anacondas squeeze their prey until it can't breathe, killing it by suffocation, not by crushing it.
- Baby snakes don't hang around a "nest," they disperse. And most of the snakes we see in the "nest" around J Lo are too big to be recently born snakes. Also, there's no way the dam that exploded would have been home to so many juvenile snakes.
- We see Anaconda eggs at the end of the movie, but Anacondas don't lay eggs.