D.Sidhe was kind enough to give WO’C first crack at publishing her review of Piranha 3D, and naturally we leaped from the water and snapped at it. Enjoy!
You know, I’d say I was disappointed with Piranha 3D, but that would require me having expected it to be good cinema or filmed with an actual script or something. It was 90 minutes of naked tits, in 3D. The second half, there was blood on them.
In terms of plot-oriented-excuse-for-blood-and-nudity, you have an inland lake, a pile of drunken college kids, a female sheriff (Elisabeth Shue), her teenage son (Steven R McQueen), his underten precocious sister and stubborn brother, and some random chick the teenage son sort of likes, and the random chick’s jerk boyfriend. Also, Eli Roth, who is not required to act but merely to spray water on drunken t-shirted college girls (and what the point of that is, I dunno, we’ve got naked fucking tits across the screen for much of the film, and we’re supposed to be in any way interested in clothed ones? Who bothers to hold a wet t-shirt contest with chicks who’ve spent all damned weekend in string bikinis in and out of a lake to begin with? It’s like watching a porno director dismiss the stars to film ten minutes of drawings from bathroom walls). And you have the guy from Sliders, who is pretending to be the guy from Girls Gone Wild with the serial numbers filed off him. (It’s been noted in some reviews that this is an attempt at satire, but I would suggest it’s actually just an excuse for gratuitous sex and violence. Robocop may have managed satire in its over-the-top violence, but this is closer to asking your sister’s friends to take off their shirts so you can satirize men who want women to take off their shirts.)
The creepy director (Jerry O’Connell) hires the teenage son of the sheriff to be his location scout around the lake, despite the teenage son having already agreed to watch the underten siblings. The kids agree to lie to mom and stay home and out of trouble, for cash, of course, and promptly decide to hop into the canoe and go fishing on some little barren island in the lake, thus setting up a future rescue of adorable kids rather than just drunken sluts, who, frankly, mostly do not get saved. See? A moral message!
You also have some random earthquake which releases a bunch of prehistoric piranha into the lake who, while crazed with hunger and attacking everything in their path, actually eat surprisingly little of it, and in The Scene You’ve Already Heard All About actually spit food out. Because, you know, millennia in an underground lake and resorting to cannibalism is one thing, but when someone sets out a buffet, it’s only polite to try a little of everything.
Without spoiling it too badly, I will say Eli Roth would probably have wanted to go that way, though he might have preferred going the way that guy from Sliders did. Elisabeth Shue has three kids and no discernible belly, to my partner’s delight. And, holy fuck, people, they make transparent swim fins for a reason! For THAT reason! That reason right there, the two naked chicks making out underwater with the stupid blue flippers on. Man, spend a little cash.
Everybody dies who you’d expect to die (Another pointed theme of the movie: Men who refer to women as “bitch” will die, and people who try to save themselves rather than others mostly will die as well. Who says horror can’t be morally upstanding?), and also a whole lot of people you never see before they die, and now I’m considering a theory that there’s a specific number of people you can kill in a horror movie to hit the sweet spot between too-few-boredom and too-many-boredom. I mean, apocalypse movies are different, having the whole world end seems disturbing on some level, but when they’re killing several hundred people in ten minutes or so, you basically don’t give a damn after the first dozen or so, especially not if they’re people you know damned well you’d fucking hate to begin with. Also, attn: directors. When you’ve got fish killing and maiming several hundred people in ten minutes, it’s fairly stupid to (almost) pause the carnage around minute seven so you can play sad music and kill someone you think we’re supposed to care about. Because, you know, we really won’t.
The resolution of all this caused actual groans of annoyance from the people sitting behind us, being the sort of plan MacGyver might come up with after repeated head trauma. It’s basically the same ending as Piranha 2, with added stupid. (My God, what they can do with advanced movie technology nowadays!)
Also, try not to let your marketing people fuck up the last scare by stuffing it in all the damned commercials.
None of which is to say I didn’t like it. It definitely benefits from low expectations, and I personally will watch anything that involves aquatic creatures eating humans, because I am easily amused. Piranha 3D isn’t My Dinner with Andre, but it’s not Mansquito either, and it is absolutely watchable if bafflingly high budget. To be scrupulously fair about the movie, when it was over I couldn’t remember any lines from it, and neither could my partner. Just an awful lot of boobs and blood. We remember laughing, and at things that were even intentionally funny, but don’t remember what any of them were. So it’s a great movie if you’re looking to waste a couple hours in an amusing and entirely pointless way.
It would actually probably be the best piranha movie I’ve seen if I was, you know, really into blondes or big tits, but I’m not. My nod still goes to Siffy Channel’s Mega Piranha, starring Greg Brady and what turns out to be a surprisingly hot aging Popstar Tiffany (After seeing this one and Debbie Gibson in Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, I can’t wait for them to cast Britney Spears opposite a hoard of slowly invading venomous sea cucumbers), if only because of the sheer missing-the-pointness of the whole piranha concept. Look, piranha are scary because they’re small enough to sneak up on you, and while one can’t do that much damage, they tend to bring their buddies. If you have piranha big enough to leap from a river and destroy buildings and bridges and naval destroyers, you wind up with a movie where most of their victims die from being crushed, and you have to wonder why they didn’t just CG in, say, meteorites or rains of elephants or something. Killer bees, for example, are scary. But if you’re alone with one of them the size of a polar bear, how much scarier is that than simply being in a room with a pissed off polar bear? Decide what kind of money shot rampage you want your beasts to go on before you pick a genus, is all I’m saying. Especially when the plotlike pseudoreason you’ve decided to go with is, “Well, we wanted to make giant fish to feed the hungry! So, you know, gigantic pack killers who’ve been known to attack humans! I mean, sure, pacu might taste better–or even, say, cows–but what’s the fun in that?” (If you haven’t seen it, do try. Tiffany can’t act and toward the end simply dissolves into a puddle of her own hilarious melodrama, screaming about how she just wants all the fish dead, in amazing imitation of 13 year old girl “I hate you! I wish I was adopted!” tantrums.)
My partner wishes to note that the very worst most unbearably stupid part of this movie was the scene where Agent Taciturn McJaw is attacked by giant piranha who leap from the water, and defends himself by falling on his back and kicking them away one after the other. Also watch for the magically morphing getaway cars in the jungle chase scenes. Given Mega Piranha‘s provenance ( The Asylum–yes, the people who just announced they’ve signed Urkel to star in Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus) it’s possible at least some of the laughs were intentional.
Piranha 3D is inexplicably referred to by assorted reviewers as a remake of the 1978 Joe Dante-directed Piranha (now rereleased on DVD without closed captions), which I guess it sort of is, if you assume they were concerned about being sued for infringement if their plot made any sense. (Director Alexandre Aja says it’s not, but who listens to what the director says?) The original movie, you may recall, involved a climax at a summer camp full of underten girls and significantly less–not to say no–nudity, or for that matter violence. Ah, we were more innocent back then, sort of.
Plotwise, Piranha 3D is actually closer to Piranha 2: The Spawning. But I would say James Cameron still gets to keep his line about the best flying killer fish movie ever, since these guys don’t fly, they just sort of jump. Piranha 2, a largely troubled film that is apparently what scared James Cameron off of attempting plots more complicated than his graphic effects, is a passing fancy, most notable for early eighties hair, Lance Henriksen, and fish that squeak and actually flap their pectoral fins to leave the water. It is not without gratuitous nudity, though we now know that there’s a point far beyond gratuitous.
I’m completely ignoring the 1995 remake, as I haven’t seen it and Wikipedia suggests it’s basically new actors reading the 1978 script, with special effects footage actually lifted from the first movie.
I’ve decided not to see anymore movies in 3D, though. I don’t think my brain works that way. All I got was blurry edges, and flat but layered dimensional effects. It was like ninety minutes of watching crew carry standees of the actors back and forth past each other. Like when your Bible study teacher cut out those pictures of the apostles and pasted them to popsicle sticks for the puppet show, only with T&A and more swearing, though possibly a similar amount of drinking.
In any event, probably the best part of the movie was seeing a great many small children being brought into the theater. It was a matinee, but still. Some eight year old girl was brought in by what was clearly her dad and that friend of her dad’s who her mom thinks is such a bad influence. We moved to sit two rows behind her, because, frankly, I hate kids, and I thought her reactions would be entertaining. In retrospect, we’d have been better off behind the three thirteen-ish boys who were escorted in and abandoned by someone’s mother’s lackadaisical parenting skills. They clearly enjoyed the female nudity (giggles, smirky nudges, “Dude, you’re gettin’ a boner, I can see it!”), the male nudity not so much (gagging, farting noises, “That’s gay!”), and The Scene You’ve Already Heard All About had them yelping and hunching over their laps. That said, the kids all clearly knew what they were in for, and none of them seemed unduly traumatized, which, actually, might mean they’re already fucked up beyond where a movie like this can take their little psyches, but there you go.
The saddest part was the trailer for Tron: The Legacy, at which no one in the theater hooted derisively. Really, audience? Really?
You’ll be delighted to know that the guy at BigHollywood with the silly macho name just loved this movie, especially the naked chicks making out underwater, which for whatever reason didn’t annoy him the same way it annoyed me. Either he was willing to overlook the clunky blue swim fins, or he wasn’t actually focusing on the actresses’ feet. Meanwhile, the Movieguide.org people have apparently elected not to review it at all, which is just as well, I suppose, since they think Eat, Pray, Love is going to lead you into new age darkness. Also, their “high” profanity count is 25 instances, which I’m pretty sure we hear in the first three lines of Jerry O’Connell’s dialogue. After twenty five “fucks”, Ted Baehr probably goes over like a fainting goat and neg-3s your appalling worldview just on principles. If they get around to it, I would expect them to make much outraged note of the fact that Elisabeth Shue’s husband is not in evidence, and possibly to note that the young daughter declares bras unwearably “itchy” as part of its feminist worldview, because they have a way of picking out the weird shit to freak out over.
Focus on the Family’s Pluggedin.com, however, took the hook, and is choosing to look on the bright side, at least briefly–they note that various characters behave heroically in saving the unsaved partiers. Hilariously, they offer as “spiritual content”: “The Wild Wild Girls director whispers to a girl, ‘Your body is a temple and now is the time to give thanks,’ as he licks her bikini-clad and tequila-covered body”. Credit where it’s due, at least they remembered some lines.
The much-touted girl-vomits-at-the-audience-in-3D scene is highly overhyped, but the other Scene You’ve Already Heard All About is gratuitously everything they say it is, even if it makes no real sense. If you want more details, the good folks at themoviespoiler.com provide. There’s also an official movie website piranha-3d.com and, in case you can’t find brief flashes of bare tits anywhere else on the web, a site for the movie’s “Wild Wild Girls” content linked from there. Me, I’m hoping the already-announced sequel (“Piranha 4D: Ad Infinitum” *) will include candiru.
For the record, there are quite a few real life piranha species and some of them… eat fruit. And I have now, in addition to crushing your joy, taught you at least one thing. Unless you already knew that. Lastly, let me show you something pretty, from Ray Troll (No boobies, but if you wander his site you will see a few in paintings, generally in the form of visual puns.) This picture of the prehistoric megapiranha is not yet available on a t-shirt, but lots of other cool things are.
* Yes, I made that up. Not about the sequel, but the title. I’m actually guessing they’ll go with “Piranhas” and skip attempts at sorting out what sequel ordinal this deserves.