Over the weekend, the science fiction thriller Life arrived to theaters. It is about the kind of thing that has been on the screen before. The whole threat from outer space has its comparisons with any number of similar films such as Anaconda twenty years ago.

Jennifer Lopez in Anaconda.
Jennifer Lopez in Anaconda.

Anaconda (1997) starred Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Eric Stoltz, Owen Wilson and Jon Voight. They played characters in a thriller where you are wondering who will die next. Sometimes the camera lingers on them from the shadows, indicating the threat is coming.

Anaconda isn’t a space movie like Life, but a serious threat is the fuel for the plot. The threat, while not from space, is in the Amazon River. It’s the biggest snake in the world, over 30 feet long and over 500 kg in weight. It’s the anaconda or green anaconda, from South America. It feeds on birds, turtles and mammals, and in this movie, humans.

As a caution, this isn’t a kiddies movie, and it contains profanity, snake attacks at human beings, violence, and gross moments.

The movie begins with a scroll of information about the animal’s myth and how it feeds on humans (which is gross). The story is about what happens to a small documentary team filming on the Amazon. An eccentric, mysterious, and perhaps dangerous man comes on board. He’s played by Jon Voight with a mostly South American accent though I wondered if he had a French accent at first. Then an anaconda poses a threat to their life survival.

Life theme

A subtle theme in Anaconda is about how beliefs shape our view of the world.

A belief among the Amazonians is that the anaconda is a god and protected the Amazonians, perhaps by how the ‘god’ is appeased through its appetite. This fear of the snake is doubled when the snake has the ability to eat them alive. But this belief is shaken if the snake dies.

Some beliefs about our everyday environment, life, the world, the spiritual world, a group of people, or a news story, or whatever, can have the power to enslave the mind. But once those beliefs ‘explode’, they are powerless to keep their grip on our minds.

The movie

The snake is computer generated of course and that is obvious on occasion. A good cast and a suspenseful thriller is undermined a bit by its short length and a stretch in credibility at times.

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