Saturday, August 21, 2010

Film Review: Piranha 3D (2010)

PIRANHA 3D (2010)

“This summer 3D shows its teeth”

RUN TIME: 89 Min.
CAST: Craig Elisabeth Shue, Christopher Lloyd, Ving Rhames, Richard Dreyfus, Jerry O’Connell, Adam Scott

I have loved director Joe Dante’s PIRANHA since childhood; it’s a great schlocky JAWS rip-off, and an awesome good time. When I heard that Alex Aja would be helming a remake, in 3D no less, I was pleased. I’m not anti-remake FYI, in my defense I would point to THE THING, THE BLOB, and THE FLY as penultimate examples of awesomeness. I am a bit down on 3D though, particularly the 2D to 3D conversion bullshit, CLASH OF THE TITANS and ALICE IN WONDERLAND were lackluster films with shitty 2D conversion. I enjoyed Aja’s previous films HAUTE TENSION and THE HILLS HAVE EYES, though I’ve not seen MIRRORS. It irks me that after a promising start with Haute Tension that Aja has been on a steady jag of remakes, it seems a waste of talent and squandered opportunity, WTF, some originality please. PIRANHA 3D is yet another reimagining, and 3D t’boot, but it seemed like big, dumb, fun, with that in mind, and the wife in tow, I headed off to the local Cineplex to catch this masterpiece of schlockery.

The film opens the day before the annual spring break madness on Lake Victoria, actually Lake Havasu here in Arizona, just a few hours from my house. It’s a sleepy day out on the lake for Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfus, sorta reprising his classic role from Jaws?); he’s doing a bit of bass fishing, drinking a few beers, singing a song that’ll be familiar to those who’ve seen Jaws, no doubt. An underwater tremor occurs unleashing the pre-historic piranhas that have been trapped in an underwater cavern below the lake. I won’t spoil it, but shit happens. Its fun and sets the mood for the rest of the film.

From there we’re introduced to Sheriff Julie Foster, played by the still totally hot Elisabeth Shue (ADVENTUIRES IN BABYSITTING, HOLLOWMAN) her three kids, Deputy Fallon played by Ving Rhames (PULP FICTION, DAWN OF THE DEAD), Derrick, a sleazy purveyor of a Girls Gone Wild type production, played sleazily by the not-so-baby faced-anymore Jerry O’Connell (STAND BY ME, SLIDERS), Christopher Lloyd (BACK TO THE FUTURE) as Mr. Goodman, the local fish expert and an endless parade of young, gorgeously annoying people who are soon to be chewed into tiny, bloody bits of fish food.


What worked for me in this film is actually the dumbness of it all. This isn’t so much a remake of the original as homage to the big, dumb, fun of it. Embracing stupidity seems to be its aim, and its aim is true. An extravagant amount of nudity, breasts galore for the dudes, a glimpse (actually two) of O’Connell’s penis for the ladies. I’ve not seen a bloodier more splatter-filled film in years, pretty awesome, played for schlock, not for scares, though my wife jumped several times. The CGI piranha are pretty laughable, it’s like a SyFy production on steroids with better cinematography and practical effects, but it works. I also enjoyed seeing all these gorgeous sorority/fraternity assholes getting eaten and screaming in pain, what can I say, I work in a hospitality service industry at a University full of wealthy douche bags who appreciate very little. Director Eli Roth (CABIN FEVER, HOSTEL) who cameos as an MC of a wet t-shirt contest, gets a particularly bloody death, good stuff. I won’t spoil all the great gore and deaths; let’s just say if gore is your thing, you’ll not be disappointed.

What didn’t work for me? The 3D is pretty terrible; the 2D to 3D conversion typically looks like shit, no exception here. In fact, a few 3D scenes were pretty flawed; god knows it doesn’t pull you from the gripping storyline, though. C’mon, make no mistake, this is Piranha 3D, it’s all about the 3D tits, ass and gore, and it comes through on all three counts in spades.

VERDICT: I walked in this film expecting a tasteless onsalught of breasts, blood, and guts and I was pleased. My wife enjoyed it, too, laughing out loud a few times, and she hates horror, for the most part. Our first date film was SPECIES II, she still bitches about that. So, don’t go into Piranha 3D expecting an epic masterpiece of cinema, it ain’t. Do go see it to enjoy a more bloody 3D breasts than you’ve ever seen, and more blood, and gore than any summer flick in recent memory. A very fun time, indeed. ***1/2 (3.5 out of 5 stars)