Under Review: ‘Piranha 3D’


I think that I would be able the make the next great B-movie, but that’s just me, but before I start writing up a script, let me ask my lovely readers their opinion on my would-be debut, which I would direct, write and, of course, produce (because doing all three makes me seem accomplished and because nobody else would waste their time on such a project). Now, the working title would be “Helly Jelly,” and I’d try to hire Jeff Goldblum and Bruce Campbell as the leading men. Of course, they’d pounce on the idea because here’s the kicker – this film would feature enormous jelly fish that flood a New York City beach.

These jelly fish have all the staples of the classic monster: tentacles, ominous figures, and the ability to shoot electricity. This is all due to my deep admiration for the “Jaws” series, which really started a trend in the “water is extremely dangerous” scene. Wait, you mean to tell me that my idea sucks? I do still have the support of Cam Smith, right?

I guess jelly-fish aren’t all that scary then, but piranhas are! But sadly I can’t jump on the idea, as Joe Dante did it first. In Dante’s “Piranha,” flesh-eating piranhas (I wouldn’t have guessed) are released into a summer resort’s rivers, which of course means, lots of dead people. Now the part spoof, part rip-off of “Jaws” wasn’t critically acclaimed and was only nominated for two Saturn awards, but it does punch quite a punch for those who are actually willing to see it, which of course, a lot of people aren’t. But Alexandre Aja plans to change all that with his latest remake (following his morbid “The Hills Have Eyes”), “Piranha 3D” which pretty much amplifies the premise of the original by instead adding prehistoric man-eating fish which are released from their underground home, which of course led to immense competition among the species and thus cannibalism became the only means of survival, by an underwater tremor. But bad timing is everything in horror movies and it just so happens that these piranhas are released just in time for Spring Break, during which the population in Lake Victoria jumps to a staggering 50,000 drunk, partying teenagers.

Of course, there has to be a least one local boy which is lured into the horror and that of course is Jake Forester (Steven R. McQueen), a respectable teenager who falls victim to Derrick Jones’ (Jerry O’Connell) job offer, because it of course, allows Forester to come along for the ride on a “Wild Wild Girls” shoot whose actresses (Kelly Brook and Riley Steele) are paid to basically, well, act wild by stripping and drinking tequila. Unfortunately for Jake, his high school flame Kelly (Jessica Szohr) also comes along for the ride. Another thing that I should mention is that Jake is supposed to be baby-sitting his brother and sister, but who listens to their parents these days? But mayhem ensues when the little Foresters get stuck on a nearby island and when the “Wild Wild Girls” boat becomes trapped and slowly begins to flood. Meanwhile on the beach front, Deputy Fallon (Ving Rhames) and Sheriff Julie Forester (Elisabeth Shue), who is Jake’s mom, are tasked with escorting the rowdy swimmers out of the water, before the piranhas come to start their feast.

“Piranha 3D” delivers exactly what you’d expect from a film with such a title. It exploits joyous nudity and bloody violence, sports a campy script, and performances that range from competent to somewhat laughable, but the zinger is that Alexandra Aja delivers the film excellently thus making it gruesome summer fun. Pete Goldfinger (yes, it’s his real name) and Josh Stolberg also make use of minimalistic character development, which allows both the characters to remain somewhat idiosyncratic and also for the outrageous set-pieces to run amok as soon as possible, and that’s extremely appreciated considering that we don’t want philosophical discussion in a film like this, we want violence (and gratuitous nudity)!

I feel like in order to truly explain to my readers how mind-numbingly awesome I thought “Piranha 3D” was, I must introduce some of the film’s greater moments (with minimal spoilers, of course). Generally, the entire third act is full of excellence; as soon as the piranhas find their way into the party area and the bloodbath begins, the film truly flourishes. But there are a couple of scenes prior to this glorious marriage of meat-fishing marine animals and drunken and scantily dressed teenagers, namely an interesting ballet exposé which features Brook and Steele swimming naked underneath the “Wild Wild Girls” ship with Jones filming from inside while looking through a glass panel. But back to the third act, there are just so many sequences that managed to thrill and these include Deputy Fallon’s last stand against the attacking piranhas using a shotgun and detached boat motor, the scenes when Julie rescues her son and the girls from the sinking ship, and of course, a sequence in which Kelly’s ex-boyfriend uses a speedboat with a plan of escape, but instead just decapitates several screaming swimmers, who are already overwhelmed with the aquatic terror.

But I mentioned bad acting; I found O’Connell’s performance to be quite mesmerizing. No, it doesn’t feature intense personal strife or several comedic ranges, but O’Connell just plays the perfect schmuck. He has the charm at first glance, but slowly shows his true colors as a hedonistic jerk, but what can you expect for a porno director? Another actors that I enjoyed, though they were mere cameos, were Christopher Lloyd and Eli Roth. For some reason, I found Roth playing a Wet T-shirt Contest Host somewhat hilarious and just seeing Dr. Emmett Brown put a smile on my face.

I did, however, find some of the 3D effects to be quite distracting if not head-aching inducing. Aja definitely had fun with demonstrating the technology on a beer bottle but I just found it annoying, likely this is just the introduction to the film, but I did find that later scenes also had superfluities in the technology, but although it has its faults, it isn’t just a quick way to garner a buck, probably because Aja came to the conclusion that nobody is actually going to run out to see “Piranha 3D,” I mean, it’s not as bankable as say “The Expendables” but it is entertaining and though at portions of the film, the added effect did distract me, overall it was put to good use.

But you can’t just end a movie like this without teasing a sequel and “Piranha 3D” is certainly guilty of doing so, but it ends on such a hilarious note that I wouldn’t mind dipping into Lake Victoria more than once. Now as cliché as it may sound to end the review like this, I must say that Aja’s latest definitely acknowledges its fishy premise (the tagline is “This Summer 3D Shows Its Teeth,” for Christ’s sake) and makes good use of it – but it doesn’t stoop down to the level of insulting its self and that’s commendable.

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8 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Adam Poynter #

    How did I know as soon as I saw Pirahna 3D review on Twitter that you would be doing it? LOL, This is up your alley for sure! This film intrigues me and I want to see it, might have to wait til Im feeling better. I have heard mixed things from friends, but I will check it out when I feel better and have some free time. Also is it worth seeing in 3D if I have the option to see it in 2D for a few bucks less?

  2. Mariusz Zubrowski #

    I honestly thought Cam Smith would do it, as he is the master, and I guess that I’m just the mere apprentice. I have trouble answering questions like that because it really depends on what you want. In example, I like my movies like I like my ice cream — the best around, but that means it’s more expensive than the regular deli brand. Of course, the deli brand is good but it isn’t the greatest. Just for clarification, 3D is the expensive brand. “Piranha 3D” would still be entertaining without the 3D, but the technology just packs that extra “WOW!” factor.

    But I wasn’t aware that they were showing a movie which specifically mentions the “3D” aspect in the title in standard format. Weird world. I think you live in the Twilight zone or something.

  3. 3

    Per Variety: “Piranha 3D” debuted at 2,470 engagements, of which 2,202 are 3D equipped.

  4. Mariusz Zubrowski #

    Just the awkwardness of buying a standard ticket for a movie called “Piranha 3D” is off-putting.

  5. Adam Poynter #

    I wasnt going to go out of my way to find a 2D showing of it, but my question was it worth it was pretty much answered. I guess Ill be seeing tits, ass and vomit coming at me some time very soon… Oh yeah and I might catch the movie too! LOL

  6. Mariusz Zubrowski #

    There’s also a couple of heads that also fly at you.

  7. Cam Smith #

    Hey, thanks for the huge compliment there Mariusz! Yeah, I had planned on covering it a while back but my lousy new work schedule prevented me from being able to get out to see it in time for a review to be done ASAP. As it’s looking now, I’m aiming for Wednesday. *Le sigh* I really enjoyed your piece, though, and will be rereading it after I check it out mid-week.

  8. Jim Ryan #

    Sounds like it would be too much gore to satisfy my movie viewing tastes. Now if there were a version where they cut out the blood, guts, and dismembered limbs and only showed the nudity (along with everything else), I would probably see it.