Piranha 3D (2010)
By: Devon B. on August 30, 2010  |  Comments ()  |  Bookmark and Share
Poster Art
Director: Alexandre Aja
Starring: Elisabeth Shue, Jerry O'Connell, Jessica Szohr, Kelly Brook, Ving Rhames, Richard Dreyfuss, Christopher Lloyd
Screenplay: Pete Goldfinger, Josh Stolberg
Country: USA
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When the second remake of Piranha was first announced, all good Australians undoubtedly wondered whether the film would make use of I Spit On Your Gravy's classic song.  The answer, sadly, is no.  While I hold hopes that Alexandre Aja will come to his senses and incorporate it in the obligatory director's cut DVD, for the moment we will all have to mourn this missed opportunity.  Aside from my dashed hopes that the Gravies would make a musical appearance, there were three other things that interested me about the Piranha remake.
  • It's a movie about killer fish

  • It's directed by Aja.

  • It's in 3D.

So many things to get me excited, but also so many ways to disappoint.

The film is a remake of Joe Dante's brilliant original, and it naturally incorporates some of the same elements.  I haven't seen the 1995 remake, but I'd guess it's safe to say that Aja's is the best Piranha remake yet. This time, an earthquake unleashes a school of very hungry, very vicious piranha into a scenic lake just as it's about to become a party zone during the school holidays. The local sheriff aids in an investigation into the quake and quickly learns the lake has become a very dangerous place. Meanwhile her son has hooked up with a film crew that are shooting a Girls Gone Wild sort of thing, but in order to do so he leaves his younger siblings unattended, and eventually everyone ends up in the water.

On point one, the movie is a success because there are killer fish that eat people.  I miss the gobbling sounds the fish used to make, but the gore has been ramped up into splatstick realms to help make up for that. 

Speaking of the gore, there're plenty of bite wounds on display, as is to be expected with Aja involved. Which brings me to point b: I was curious what Aja would do with Piranha. This wasn't just joyous expectancy; I wasn't sure that he had the comical chops to pull this material off. My concerns were quickly alleviated in the opening scene which has a funny nod to another film about a fish eating people.

Point three is where things start to go amiss, despite the fact that Piranha is in 3D, because it might as well not be. As with My Bloody Valentine 3D updating, the 3D here is more akin to looking through a window than having anything come off the screen, but at least MBV had a few projectile moments. In Piranha even the comin' at ya gags stay on screen! I thought maybe it was just something to do with my vision, but after the film my partner confirmed that it looked the same to her. The 3D is so pointless that for most of the movie I forgot it was in 3D, and not because I was absorbed in the story. This is good for the home video market, I suppose, since the film is essentially 2D, but I don't want to pay extra at the cinema for something as worthless as this. Piranha was always supposed to be 3D but was shot 2D then converted, and it REALLY suffers because of that. The only time the 3D is beneficial is when the camera takes the fishes' point of view as they swarm towards a victim.

Overall, Piranha is okay. It's silly with a sense of fun, but the script isn't as smart as John Sayles' original. There're plenty of ridiculous elements and there is lots of meaty gore, and the carnage is all the more enjoyable to watch since the fish food is a group of annoying college kids. The film also has a healthy abundance of nudity, but, tragically, none of it comes of the screen at the viewer.

Piranha is a decent big screen popcorn muncher, but it's not really worth paying for the 3D. The film itself might garner a three and a half or a four, but the poor 3D transfer really lets it down.
Movie Score
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