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Aug202010

PIRANHA 3D is all tits and gore (review)

Rating:  (Bad)

I enjoy a good B movie, ala Snakes on a Plane, The Expendables, and Ninja Assassin, but Piranha 3D makes Final Destination's gore look tame. Do we want thrills this cheap at the theater? Piranha 3D has more naked women, bloody deaths, maimings, decapitations, and mutilations than anything than any theatrical release in years. I'm all for fun, but this is gore porn. If you like that sort of thing, this is the movie for you. If you're looking for a movie that doesn't violently rip the face off a girl by tying her hair in a boat propeller, watch something else. Piranha 3D may be about the insatiable appetites of ancient fish with teeth, but one serving is enough for me. 

Piranha in a Lake

Here's the setup. It's Spring Break and 45,000 drunken students have poured into Lake Victoria, a town of 5,000. Despite the huge increase in population, it looks like the town's only police officers are Elizabeth Shue and Ving Rhames. Fortunately, having Ving Rhames on your squad is better than an army of normal, healthy police officers (Ving Rhames specializes in kicking ass).

Anyway, Richard Dreyfuss, who should know better by now, is out on a boat in the lake and drops a beer bottle in the water. This bottle causes the earth to split and release ancient giant piranha that have been living in a subterranean lake for millions of years. How did they survive in a completely dark environment with absolutely no prey to feed on? They must have resorted to cannibalism, says scientist Christopher Lloyd, who just so happens to have a fossilized specimen of the ancient evil fish in his house. Between you and me though, Christopher Lloyd is a liar. A predatory species cannot survive in a mono-species environment. What really happened: Doc Brown got in his DeLorean, did a bit of travelling, and planted those fish. That's my theory.

Tits

Back to the women. If you like topless girls, this movie is for you. You won't see tits in this many dimensions unless you actually see them. Director Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes) shows hundreds of topless and bottomless girls taking off their shirts for Jerry O'Connell, who channels the most extreme "Girls Gone Wild"-like director I've ever seen. He is a fast-talking douchebag of monolithic proportions. He captures girls making out, doing body shots off each other, parasailing naked, swimming naked, dancing naked...we even watch naked girls make out and motorboat each other underwater for several minutes straight. This wouldn't be so bad if I didn't want to strangle O'Connell every time he opened his mouth. Still, he has fun with the role. I think he was going for douche.

3D

The depth of 3D in Piranha isn't terrible, but Alexandre Aja doesn't take advantage of it. Mostly, we see stuff fly at the screen. When we meet Elizabeth Shue's son, a jerk throws a Coke at the screen, which is then all over Steven R. McQueen's shirt. Stuff flies at the screen consistently, as if it's some great new effect. Vomit, propeller props, anchors, you name it and Aja will toss it at the screen.

It's also odd how 3D seems to remove directors' ability to control depth of field in the traditional sense. Every element in a shot, close or far, is crystal clear. This sounds like a good thing, but our eyes naturally defocus elements we aren't looking at. 2D films can do this simple trick. 3D has a difficult time. This problem is obvious in the opening shots of the film when we try to look through a fence with people behind it.

Gore

We've covered sex and 3D, so the only other thing to take about is the gore. For the most part, I forgave the film, despite it showing an uncomfortable amount of guts. There is a big scene, however, where the piranha attack thousands of kids in the water, where the violence bothered me because Aja keeps the joke going for too long. For several minutes, we watch kids swim and scream in bloody water, climb on boats with lacerations and missing arms--after a while, it grows disturbing. Worse, we then watch a kid drive through the dying people on a motorboat, grinding up and killing everyone in his path. I'm sure some will find the shock of the gore fun, but I did not.

Nothing more

There's plenty more stupid shit to talk about (Adam Scott had some good moments), but they all involve 3D, tits, or guts. Piranha 3D is great gore porn. Unfortunately, it's director is too focused on flesh to be great at anything else.

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