Snake 4: The Lost World (2023) Review
Snake 4: The Lost World is the latest entry in the giant snake franchise Lin Zhen Zhao (The Enchanting Phantom, Junkrat Train) kicked off with Snakes in 2018. These films, and Zhao’s work in general, have tended to be among the best of the wave of Chinese CGI kaiju films. So, while I’m a bit tired of giant snakes, I was more than happy to see this pop up.
A storm causes a plane to crash on a remote Pacific island, leaving the usual unlikely assortment of survivors. They quickly run through a couple of potential leaders in scenes reminiscent of Feast, the last of which sets off an attack by what look like giant, tree dwelling Venus Flytraps which greatly reduces the cast.
The survivors, who include Hao Ren (Horror Story: Innocent Days, Big Bee) a failed businessman who wants to die, so his family can collect on his insurance, Ruan Ning (Chen Yu Si, Mojin: The Worm Valley, The Hidden Fox) his ex who coincidentally was on the flight as well, and Li Jun (Zhang Hao Ran, Trek of the Mutants, The Game of Desire) who some of the other recognize, but can’t remember why.
Their only hope of rescue is finding the plane’s radio so they can call for help. That’s in the cockpit, which separated from the rest of the plane on the way down, which means trekking across the island to reach it. And that means dealing with plenty of other giant creatures as well as each other.
It’s obvious from the start that more effort, and money, went into Snake 4: The Lost World than most of these films. The effects in particular look a lot better than what we’ve come to expect from these films. It still has occasional weak moments, but even in complicated scenes like a passage through a canyon full of giant chameleons, the creatures look solid and move realistically.
The plot is also a bit more involved than the usual evil billionaire messing with nature or bare bones survival stories we see. It’s not deep in the way Godzilla Minus One was, and only one character is really fleshed out, although others are given some characterization. But having Hao Ren caught between his wishes to die and to stay alive and help the others adds some depth to the film. That being said, there are too many flashbacks to the same events, and giving one of the snakes a flashback was going a bit too far.
But it’s the creatures that are the draw for a film like this, and Snake 4 delivers. While there aren’t a lot of different creatures, the ones mentioned plus something that looks like a giant frog and for variety an acid filled fruit, there are often multiple creatures in the shot. Especially at the end when they find out what we’ve known from the start, the cockpit landed in the snake’s den and there are plenty of hungry baby snakes looking for a meal.
There are still some of the usual problems with these films, some heavy handed messages among the dialogue and the obnoxious attempts at comic relief like the fat guy who gets stuck in a tight passage while they’re running from one of the creatures. But since these seem to be a part of the formula, I suppose I should just get used to them.
Overall, though, there’s a lot to like about Snake 4: The Lost World and relatively little to complain about. It’s a solid monster movie with plenty of creatures, solid effects and a fast pace. The kind of film made for a Saturday afternoon.
Snake 4: The Lost World is available for free on Youku’s YouTube channel as well as several Asian Digital Platforms and embedded below, just under the trailer.