Boa (2002)
By: Devon B. on October 6, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Columbia TriStar (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 4:3. English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0. English, Spanish Subtitles. 96 minutes
The Movie
Director: Phillip J. Roth
Starring: Dean Cain, Elizabeth Lackey, Mark Sheppard, Dean Biasucci, Craig Wasson
Screenplay: Terri Neish
Music: Rich McHugh
Tagline: 100 feet of Prehistoric Terror. Country: USA
AKA: New Alcatraz
Boa is an improvement over its presumed inspiration, Anaconda, despite the fact that it stars Dean Cain. While this Superman can wreck most anything just by walking across the screen, Boa's suckage isn't entirely his fault.

In Boa, someone's had the great idea to build the world's most secure jail and put it in Antarctica; maybe what they secretly wanted was the coldest prison of all time. While drilling, workers hit a hollow rock formation containing 99% pure Nitrogen gas. Inside this hollow, preserved since the time when Antarctica was a tropical forest teeming with undiscovered life, is a giant, frozen reptile. It's survived because Nitrogen is what's used to preserve old documents…at least that's what the movie implies. No matter what, the snake's too old to be a boa, so I'm not really sure why the movie is called Boa. The Australian title of this mess is New Alcatraz, which makes a bit more sense since that's the name of the prison under construction, but that title doesn't really imply a giant monster eating things. Logically, the title should've been something akin to Superman Versus the Giant, Prehistoric Snake in the Coldest Prison on Earth.

The snake naturally awakens when the hollow is penetrated, and immediately begins terrorizing the prison. Superman is a Princeton professor (yes, everything in this movie is HIGHLY believable) and he gets called in because he's long held the hypothesis that the Antarctic was once a jungle. I say hypothesis, not theory, because Superman's final lecture of the year seemed more like a brief course outline. If that was all the evidence he had to review, he obviously just made this little idea up one night while courting Lois a few years back.

Superman arrives along with a crew, one of whom is the only one with a key to the prison. This was odd because no one in the prison seemed to know Key Guy, but he must've let them in originally. Odd also because he's the only one with the key, and they let him go off and do dangerous work. Guess the theory was that if it's someone important, the snake would respect his authority and not eat him? Not that the snake is even the most dangerous thing about, since explosions seem to get as many people as the hungry reptile. And they're in the fucking Antarctic, so why didn't the just turn the heat down and let the damn thing freeze?

Superman Versus the Giant, Prehistoric Snake in the Coldest Prison on Earth is the most clichéd horror film since I Know What You Did Last Summer. There are a few lines that are almost funny, and one that is even amusing, but most of the Kevin Williamson-esque "witty banter" crap fails. The movie rips off Aliens, the work of John Woo, Jurassic Park, and every giant snake movie that preceded it. The film is easy to make fun of and laugh at, and it is relatively fast paced. It WOULD be good cheesy fun…if it weren't for the CGI. The snake's design isn't great. It growls, has a weird tail, and generally looks like the CG was modelled after Medusa's hair from Clash of the Titans. The snake doesn't move like a serpent today would be expected to, but I'm sure the director would justify that by its being so far back the evolutionary scale, so we wouldn't know how it would move. The CGI also doesn't appear to have been merged with the film, so it's like CGI blue screen. Joy, the worst of both eras of monster FX.
The DVD presents the film at 1.33:1 in a less than stunning transfer. Artefacts are present, particularly in the CG sequences. Maybe this is the fault of the animation, not the transfer, but regardless, it looks shitty. Specks are present as well, as is some grain.
Audio is available in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 mixes. The sound is an improvement over the visual, and some of the sound FX are even well done. Dialogue remains clear and discernable.
Extra Features
There are animated menu squeezes when you make a selection. Filmographies for the cast and director are provided in case you are curious what else Superman has been in. All that and the trailer and theatrical trailer…plus a trailer for Anaconda, should this film make you start thinking "Anaconda wasn't really THAT bad."
The Verdict
Superman Versus the Giant, Prehistoric Snake in the Coldest Prison on Earth wasn't really worth the effort it took to carry it to the video store's counter.
Movie Score
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