Here's how you can tell the difference between this serpent tale and its 1997 predecessor Anaconda: There are multiple hungry snakes now and no Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Owen Wilson or Jon Voight (see opposite page) trying to avoid getting chomped. There's no overlap between the two movies—if you don't count a totally recycled plot. Once again there's a boatload of attractive twenty-and thirtysomethings heading up a waterway only to be menaced by a slimy scale-covered creature. In the case of Anacondas, many of'em.
It all plays out as you'd expect, with a few expendable folks meeting nasty ends and one of the group turning out to be a traitor. The hero, an American captaining a rundown boat in Borneo, is played with roughhewn bravado by Messner, an obvious honors graduate of the Bruce Willis School of Tough Guy Acting. Major complaint: African-American actor Eugene Byrd, portraying a computer whiz, is asked to overdo the frightened bit to such an egregious extent that one keeps expecting him to burst out with, "I don't know nothing 'bout birthin' babies, Miz Scarlett." (PG-13)