August 28, 2010

Piranha 3D (2010)

"After a sudden underwater tremor sets free scores of the prehistoric man-eating fish, an unlikely group of strangers must band together to stop themselves from becoming fish food for the area's new razor-toothed residents."

There's been a lot of hatred towards "Piranha" from various online critics some of which was deserved, but, mostly, it has all been due to over reverence of Joe Dante's 1978 original. Yes, this is yet another remake unfortunately but it was far more exciting and adult than I expected.

The two things that everybody seems bent out of shape over are the use of CGI and the amount of nudity. Personally, I'm getting pretty bored with all the CGI bashing that goes on especially when, in the case of a film like this, you really have to ask what method other than computer effects could you possibly use to create shoals of predatory fish? The CGI in "Piranha" is actually pretty good and is mixed with enough gory practical effects to satisfy any of those "stuck in the 80s" fanboys. Also the sheer amount of gratuitous nudity is a bonus as far as I'm concerned. I see nothing wrong with that at all.

There are some very beautiful women in this film although most of them don't survive in that condition. With a cast that includes Elisabeth Shue, Kelly Brook, Riley Steele and Dina Meyer (briefly) among many others, there's something very wrong with anyone who doesn't enjoy the eyecandy. When I say "anyone", I do of course mean red blooded heterosexual males as I can't really comment on all the shirtless boys in this film. This probably isn't as good as "Leeches" if you are gay, but I'll leave the assessment of male eyecandy to other reviewers in the Horror Blogger Alliance before I dig myself a hole here. I think Steven R. McQueen may be quite appealing to the female and/or gay audience even though I found his character to be quite irritating.

If you don't already know that Alexandre Aja also directed "High Tension", "The Hills Have Eyes" remake and the pretty awful "Mirrors" then it won't really harm your enjoyment of "Piranha" at all. I will admit that all of his movies have been flawed, have continuity errors and seem to be increasingly weaker as his career continues but when it comes to action and gore he still knows how to put a good scene together. "Piranha" is quite exciting in places but derivative of much better films about killer fish (yes, you know the ones!). I don't really see that as a bad thing though. No horror film is without its formulaic components and action films even less so. The usual things such as a disposable black character, pointless self-sacrifice, kids disobeying authority and all that other good stuff is here and it's none the worse for it.

The actual plot of "Piranha" is also not very original and there are various homage scenes to "Jaws" and the original "Piranha". They aren't done very subtly but they are done with a newer and more exploitative eye. I've always thought of the original "Piranha" as being little more than a ripoff of "Jaws" but with smaller fish so I really didn't expect a remake to be anything else. I wasn't disappointed because I think this is a better film than anything Joe Dante has done other than "Gremlins". Rumour has it that Alexandre Aja wanted this to be something like "Gremlins for adults" anyway and he pretty much succeeded. It's not going to be thought of as a classic by any stretch of the imagination because the characterisation was far too weak and the pace was a little bit too fast overall, but it's still a damn fine "Creature Feature" all the same.

I'm tempted to say that you probably shouldn't watch "Piranha" if you are expecting it to be a 100% serious horror film but I did exactly that and really enjoyed it. You could definitely compare it unfavourably to "Tremors" even though it has much more of an "Eight Legged Freaks" feel to it. I'm not sure if the comedic moments really work as I don't have any sense of humour whatsoever but seeing hoards of annoying teenagers getting eaten by prehistoric piranhas did satisfy that dark part of my soul. I wish it had been knocked up a few levels to include small children and frail old people being eaten as well but you can never have everything you want especially when it comes to mainstream theatrical releases. At least Eli Roth and Jerry O'Connell both get their just desserts or rather the piranha do at their expense.

Anyway, "Piranha" is showing at your local cinemas right now so I recommend that you all go and see it for yourselves. You'll notice that, in spite of the full title, I didn't mention the 3D. The bottom line is that the 3D is just a gimmick which neither adds or subtracts anything from this film at all. It's well done in the few places where it occurs, but it isn't very important, and I can't even mention the best 3D scene anyway because it would spoil it for you.

"Piranha" is a fun movie, a not too bad way to waste an hour and a half of your life, and it's one of the most entertaining things I've seen this Summer. There have been some outstanding movies this year and it's not over yet but so far I would definitely put this in my top ten of 2010. I also saw "The Expendables" this week and, to be blunt, I enjoyed "Piranha" a hell of lot more.

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