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Piranha 3D – Review (second opinion)

Piranha 3D – Review (second opinion)

Aug 24, 2010

reviewed by Danny
directed by Alexandre Aja, 2010
(to read hallo’s review of Piranha 3D, click here)

One of the main characters of Piranha 3D is a soft-core porn producer named Derrick Jones (played perfectly by Jerry O’Connell) . The character is clearly based on Girl’s Gone Wild founder Joe Francis, an undeniable sleezeball who finds little support in any corner of society not littered with frat boys or drunken college girls, so it is no surprise to see the film take a number of well-placed shots at his broad target. Unfortunately, the Jones character seems to exist not as a vehicle for parody but simply as a way to justify a boatload (actually, many boatloads) of gratuitous nudity. Still, aside from one over-the-top bit of soft-core ogling, the T&A is pretty standard and accurately reflects what goes on during Spring Break in various sunny destinations. More importantly, the scares and gore that are the real attraction for most horror fans are here in full force.

Piranha 3D is less a remake of the original cult classic as it is another riff on the theme. The film removes the military angle and the local politics and basically avoids wasting screen time on anything that isn’t naked or being eaten. It’s a purity that I appreciate. The opening scene, in which Jaws alum Richard Dreyfuss becomes the first victim of prehistoric piranha released into the lake by an earthquake that has opened up a connection with a large underground lake, is a stunner. It starts the film off right while also getting about 50% of the exposition out of the way quickly.

We get the rest of the exposition in the next few scenes where we meet the local sheriff (played by the extremely likable Elizabeth Shue), her teen son and his younger siblings, and the aforementioned Derrick Jones, his cameraman, and two bathing beauties. When the son takes a job scouting locations for the film crew, he leaves his younger siblings to fend for themselves (which doesn’t go well). Add a romantic subplot between the son and a high school friend that Jones is trying to talk out of her bikini, mix in a school of angry, battle-scarred piranha, shake well, and you have a recipe for a killer monster movie done right.

And, for the most part, it is.  The main set pieces (the collapse of a floating stage, a boat-to-boat rope climb) are done very well.  All the characters we want to die violently do so.  Those that need a heroic send off, get one.  The 3D is used to good effect throughout though it still feels like a gimmick instead of being fully integrated into the cinematography.  The blood and guts level is super high and some of the deaths are just awesome.  Jones especially gets a graphic send off that seems to be exactly what he deserves, and it sent the audience I saw it with into fits of laughter.

For fans of the genre, Piranha 3D is a lot of fun.  It isn’t for everyone—an eight minute long nude synchronized swimming scene involving two of the “wild girls” is ridiculously graphic and unnecessary–but the film is good fun for gore hounds who can handle a bit of gratuitous T&A with their horror.

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