Piranha 3D Movie Review

Piranha 3D Movie Review
Takes a big bite out of summer.
Updated: 08-20-2010

When I think of the word “piranha”, three things instantly come to mind: the 1978 Roger Corman-produced, Joe Dante-directed original; the 1981 James Cameron-directed sequel (yeah, that AVATAR/TITANIC/TERMINATOR James Cameron); and the rockin’ cult metal song “Piranha” by the still-going-strong 80’s Thrash Metal band EXODUS (featured on their 1985 debut “Bonded By Blood”). Now, I have a fourth.
Directed by Alexandre Aja (HAUTE TENSION/ HILL HAVE EYES remake), which he co-wrote a draft of the script with longtime writing partner, Grégory Levasseur - previous draft written by SORORITY ROW remake scribes Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger, PIRANHA 3D is a fun-filled, action-packed, wet & wild rollercoaster bloodbath that horror fans can sink their gnawing teeth into.
The simplistic plot centers around the town of Lake Victoria being besieged by a bunch of spring break revelers. Not to be outdone, a seismic earthquake unleashes from the ocean depths a deadly school of prehistoric ravenous piranha, ready to crunch and munch on the bountiful nubile human flesh on display. To save the day, are the sheriff’s department, headed by everyone’s favorite babysitter Elizabeth Shue (in full-on motherly “alpha female” mode) and Ving Rhames (who gets medieval on some piranha ass, via motor boat engine propellers), and seismologist Adam Scott (of the canceled popular show PARTY DOWN), who is damn handy with a pump action shotgun.
Also chewing the scenery is Jerry O’Connell playing an obnoxious, coke-snorting reality-show pornographer who’s in town to film the spring break debauchery for his show “Wet & Wild” - a blatant satirical nod towards a certain “wild” show and its creator. For legal reasons, this individual shall remain nameless, since he recently had his attorneys send a cease & desist gag order towards the Weinstein Company (and O’Connell in particular) for defamation. http://www.nypost.com/p/pagesix/put_on_notice_dYWuTXtEC160ZxBQa5TRVP
Making smaller cameos are Christopher Lloyd as a scientist, mimicking his over-the-top “Doc” performance from the BACK TO THE FUTURE movies, and Richard Dreyfuss revisiting his “Matt Hooper” character from JAWS (1975) - a movie that spawned the original PIRANHA and other oceanic monster flicks worldwide.
Rounding out the cast are Steven R. McQueen, Jessica Szohr, comedian Paul Scheer and UK model Kelly Brook.
Obviously no one involved in the movie is trying to win any Oscars, and PIRANHA 3D certainly doesn’t take itself seriously. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, along with the gnashing teeth from the carnivorous fishies, the tone of the movie walks a tightrope balance, alternating between snarky comedy and jump-out-of-your-seat terror.
I have to commend Aja for daring to show copious amounts of gratuitous female nudity, and even a severed, chewed up penis that is literally projected towards your face. You have no choice but to duck at that sight gag. Other gags are slightly subtler, if you happen to be paying attention. Like the mention of and visual pay off to a poor model’s bleach blonde hair (I guess she should have covered her roots).
Sure, there’s an intentional exploitative nature to the proceedings that some folks will deem to be sexist or misogynistic. I mean, let’s face it - breasts jiggle; butts wiggle in extreme close-ups repeatedly.
There’s even underwater full frontal girl-on-girl action set to classical music. A different version of this song, “Flower Duet from Lakme” originally appeared in Tony Scott’s stylishly erotic vampire film THE HUNGER (1982), which has its own infamous lesbian love scene.
Supplying the graphic mayhem are FX superstars Greg Nicotero & the KNB team, whom outdid themselves this time around:
 - shredded flesh abound
 - muscle tissue hangs off bones
 - gallons of deep red blood is spilled
 - victims are rapidly consumed to their skeleton
 - others are decapitated and split in half by human error
It’s all there in glorious color. Yes, KNB are truly the real stars of this latest incarnation of PIRANHA.
Regarding the technical side, the 3D conversion looked alright to me. I know others will gripe about the movie not being shot in actual 3D. But given the modest $24 million budget, the vast amount of make-up FX employed, the reliance on CGI piranhas and filming on and under water, I believe Aja had little choice but to film in traditional 2D.
What makes this movie different from other 3D conversion flicks (i.e. the CLASH OF THE TITANS remake) was that everything was filmed with this technique in mind. Plus the digital piranhas were created in actual 3D. Furthermore, director Eli Roth (whom also has a cameo here) stated recently that a 3D technical advisor was on hand during the filming to make sure Aja & crew got everything right for the conversion process afterwards.
Ultimately, PIRANHA 3D is my summer vacation movie for 2010. I got exactly what I wanted and expected from a flick with that particular title, in all of its hard R-rated glory. It’s fun & dumb with blood & boobs galore! PIRANHA 3D has everything a red-
blooded horror fan could ever want in a summer popcorn movie.

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Review by Terrence Kelsey


Be sure and check out our video interviews with the Piranha 3D cast and 1:1 interview with Alexandre Aja

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