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Big, long sliding thing

“Anacondas” promises more giant snake for your movie dollar.

After eating a large meal, it often seems like you have some insight into what an anaconda must feel like after it has swallowed a whole goat. Imagine the bloating and dyspepsia that would follow upon consuming an entire adult human, complete with clothes, shoes, glasses and accessories. Tums couldn’t cut it.

After seeing “Anacondas,” the long-delayed sequel to 1997’s “Anaconda,” audiences might feel a bit bloated, but only as much as a snake would after a small pig perhaps, or a baby.

There’s not much new here. Another group of clueless urbanite scientists travel into another trackless jungle and run into another bunch of gargantuan anacondas.

This time around, the scientists are searching for a magical flower that promises immortality. They’re guided by Johnny Messner, who plays the predictably grizzled (though hunky) outlaw riverboat captain.

The non-snake related excitement comes courtesy of smoldering sexual tension between Gordon Mitchell (Morris Chestnut) and Gail Stern (Salli Richardson) who fight and fight, but really like each other underneath it all. And, of course, there is a greedy villain in the person of Dr. Jack Byron (Matthew Marsden) who pushes everyone to risk becoming snake chow.

Unfortunately for fans of the original, which featured a significantly more stellar cast, there’s no Snake-O-Vision shot of a half-digested John Voigt being regurgitated by an anaconda. The big snakes don’t seem to scream quite as much this time around, either. Which is probably just as well, since it got annoying in the other film.

So “Anacondas” doesn’t offer quite as many masterful camp set-pieces as its predecessor. But there is plenty of lush Fijian scenery (standing in for Indonesia). A few of the shots – such as the trailer-ruined bird’s-eye view of long, sinuous anacondas wending their way through a group of oblivious waders – help to keep the movie visually interesting.

Perhaps the only really significant outcome of “Anacondas” is the fact that two whole black people survive the terrifying snakes. That might not be so revolutionary, except that it follows closely on the heels of “Alien vs. Predator,” in which the only human survivor was a black woman.

Could this be the result of an epiphany on the part of major studios? Have they finally realized, after 20 years of mounting evidence, that blacks are a core audience for horror and monster movies?

We can but hope. Monster and horror movies are a pretty moribund genre, as both of the above films prove. Last year’s “Better Luck Tomorrow” broke open the crime-gone-wrong genre for young Asian-Americans. Perhaps “Anacondas”, despite being essentially ridiculous, could have a lasting impact on Hollywood pictures. Chew on that.

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