Home > Reviews > ANACONDAS: THE HUNT FOR THE BLOOD ORCHID – Nerida Tyson-Chew

ANACONDAS: THE HUNT FOR THE BLOOD ORCHID – Nerida Tyson-Chew

anacondashuntforthebloodorchidOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Quite why anyone made a sequel to the 1997 minor hit Anaconda is beyond me. The original, directed by Luis Llosa, was famous for featuring early star turns from Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson, for the ‘Jon Voight leer’, and (amongst score fans at least) for having a serviceable score by Randy Edelman. Now, seven years after the fact, journeyman director Dwight H. Little has resurrected the franchise, and turned out one of the most critically derided movies of 2004 – an over-egged pudding that threatens to destroy the fledgling movie careers of stars Johnny Messner, Kadee Strickland and former Coronation Street actor Matthew Marsden almost before they have begun.

The music for Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid is by Australian composer Nerida Tyson-Chew, who began career working as an orchestrator for Bruce Rowland, and whose only other major international features have been the 1995 drama ‘Hotel Sorrento’ (for which she was nominated for an Australian Oscar), the 1997 romance ‘Under the Lighthouse Dancing’, and the 2001 Yahoo Serious movie ‘Mr. Accident’. As is always the case when relatively unknown composers are given their first chance in Hollywood, I applaud Sony’s decision to attach Tyson-Chew to this picture, and applaud the decision even more as Tyson-Chew is a woman scoring an action movie. I just wish the end result had been a little more enjoyable.

As befits the jungle setting, Tyson-Chew’s score is largely of the exotic/percussive kind, mixing a good-sized symphony orchestra with soloists performing a number of ethnic instruments, including the familiar wailing shakuhachi, a Japanese nohkan flute,  Filipino kulintan gongs, and a variety of drums. Quite a bit of the album’s generous running time is devoted to extended performances of these instruments, which more than add a level of authenticity to the proceedings, but unfortunately never really develops much interest. Things groan, rattle, creep and wail, but there’s no real thematic content to tie it all together. It’s not quite musical sound effects, but it’s darn close.

When Tyson-Chew allows her orchestra to take center stage for a brief moment, Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid shines. The action music in cues such as “Kong Terrified”, “Predator in the Water”, “Livingston’s Death”, and the extended finale “Discovering the Orchids/Face Off” is dense and exciting, and as good as music from a movie of this kind can realistically expected to be. There are some ear-shattering moments of dissonance in “It’s Mating Season”, “The Cavern” and others, and the rhythmic string work and bleating brasses all sound great in context, but in the bigger scheme of things it’s really nothing we haven’t heard a million times before.

Occasionally, Tyson-Chew frustrates the listener by presenting what could be the beginnings of an epic, exotic theme (“Stealing the Fruit”), but then snatches it away from us before it has chance to take flight. Only during “Almost a Kiss” and “Totem” does she allow herself a fleeting moment of tenderness.

While not exactly an auspicious Hollywood debut, Tyson-Chew’s work in Australia and elsewhere has proven that she is a composer of great talent who deserves a shot at the big time. I just hope, for her sake, that her work on Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid is not tarred with the same brush as the film: by all accounts, it was and laughed off the screen.

Rating: **

Track Listing:

  • Opening Titles/Jungle Floor (2:12)
  • Elixir Perrinia Immortalis (1:39)
  • Kong Attacks Gail (2:03)
  • Stealing the Fruit/Kong Terrified (3:05)
  • Almost a Kiss (1:20)
  • Predator in the Water (3:51)
  • Enter the Jungle (0:57)
  • Foreboding Path (2:22)
  • Crossing the Bog (3:29)
  • Spider of Anaesthesia (2:57)
  • Livingston’s Death (1:05)
  • All Hope is Gone (1:58)
  • Lopaks (1:36)
  • It’s Mating Season (3:14)
  • Totem (1:34)
  • Jack’s Devious Deal Uncovered (1:24)
  • Betrayal of Trust (2:28)
  • The Cavern (6:29)
  • Climbing to the Light (6:02)
  • Discovering the Orchids/Face Off (11:12)

Running Time: 61 minutes 05 seconds

Varèse Sarabande VSD-6607 (2004)

Music composed and conducted by Nerida Tyson-Chew. Performed by The Studio Orchestra of Sydney. Orchestrations by Larry Rench, Andrew Kinney, Bill Boston and Rick Giovinazzo. Featured musical soloists Riley Lee, Michael Atherton and Iain Scotland. Recorded and mixed by Christo Curtis. Edited by Rajan Kamahl.  Album produced by Nerida Tyson-Chew.

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