Movie Review – Piranha 3D (2010)

by NIR SHALEV

Now this is the summer movie that I’d been waiting for for a long time! Here we have hundreds of naked women dancing with topless men and swimming during Spring Break while underwater seismic activity breaks rocks apart and reveals a lake within a lake, one containing an extinct kind of piranha. That’s right: thousands upon thousands of piranha fish that’d been extinct for over two million years and were living off one another, eating and tearing at each other are eventually released into a large lake filled with college students gone wild. If this doesn’t sound like your type of movie then you needn’t read on.

When the remains of an old man reveal decomposition, Sheriff Julie Forester (Elisabeth Shue) finds it strange because he’d been gone for only one day. So she and a scuba diving team investigate the lake and discover the hidden lake within and the piranhas. After capturing one of the fish they bring it to a specialist, Mr. Goodman (Christopher Lloyd) and he uses exposition to explain about the prehistoric piranha.

On a parallel storyline, Jake (Steven R. McQueen) is the sheriff’s son and he’s tasked with babysitting his younger siblings. He also has the chance to play as navigator to a man shooting a “Girls Gone Wild” type video and bribes his siblings to stay at home and stay away from trouble. That’s basically the gist of the story, or whatever story one really takes out of this film.

The movie director is played by Jerry O’Connell, an actor that usually annoys me but this time I liked his characterization of the sleazy soft-core porno director. Elizabeth Shue is fine and her deputy, played by Ving Rhames is fine also but he has a small role. Christopher Lloyd is fun and very reminiscent of Back to the Future’s Doc Brown and Richard Dreyfuss plays the old man/first piranha victim in a role paying homage to Jaws. The acting in the film is mostly really bad, on behalf of almost everyone; even the heavy-hitter actors do not take the material seriously because no one really can.

So why on Earth would I write almost a page of detail about a killer piranha movie? Because it’s filled with nudity throughout and the final twenty minutes of the film showcase some of the most brutal and graphically violent gore scenes that I’d ever seen in the movies. It’s an extremely gruesome film with tons of blood and we are witness to hundreds of people being torn to shreds by thousands of piranha.

The original film, directed by Joe Dante (Gremlins 1 and 2) is also fun and exists in the decade that it belongs to. This film is a wholehearted homage to the “dead teenager genre” films of the 1970s and 1980s that never takes itself seriously and features tons of boobs and extremely gory scenes. We enter the theater hoping that a movie titled Piranha will be about killer piranhas and that’s what we get; and ever more so.

My one and only complaint is that the movie is presented in 3D and only 3D. I was unable to purchase a ticket to a 2D screening because none exist. If one wants to have a ton of fun, laughing with an audience or alone in the theater then see this film regardless of the 3D. I have a tendency to remove the glasses every once in a while because the 3D process causes me to get headaches and the visuals are blurry almost throughout, but I’d eventually left them on for the second half of the film and almost got used to the 3D-ness.

This movie is what every summer movie tried to be in the last few years but failed. This movie is superior to The Expendables because instead of being a 1980s type cheesy action film it ended up being a bad 2010 film and Piranha 3D is a good one. It’s actually good but do not take my violence warning lightly.

3 stars

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3 responses to “Movie Review – Piranha 3D (2010)

  1. Thanks for the review and the warning. I remember Anaconda with some fondness and thought perhaps this would be similar fun with some good actors having a good time. Not crazy about lots of blood and chomping, though, so I’m glad the 3D discouraged me long enough to see your review – more entertaining, I suspect, than the movie would be for me but you persuade me that it would be fun for some.

  2. Hmm, I saw this for free, and still didn’t care for it. I did think that Ms. Shue did a good job, along with the actor playing her older son- but almost nothing else in the movie worked for me- especially Jerry O’Connell. I also thought that Lloyd was doing a variation on his Back to the Future role, and appreciated the effort, but I didn’t think that it worked here. As for Rhames and Dreyfuss, I thought they were wasted.

    I didn’t actively hate the movie- it struck me as too lazy to be worthy of that (except for the barfing piranha bit, and Jerry O’Connell’s performance- those, I hated). I’m glad that Nir and others liked this one (it was ranked pretty highly on Rotten Tomatoes the last time I checked), but its charms proved to be elusive, by and large, for me.

    • I actually found it to be less funny than I’d expected it to be but during the first half I wanted all of those Spring Breakers to die when it was actually happening I felt kinda bead because it was so terribly gruesome. That’s why I liked it; I thought that it had successfully killed time.
      That and that it’s the only movie from director Alexandre Aja (Haute Tension, The Hills Have Eyes remake) that I like.

      @Miriam, I wrote this review as a critique and a warning so I’m glad that it worked. :O)

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