Tuesday 31 August 2010

Review: Piranha 3-D

Year: 2010
Director: Alexandre Aja
Screenplay: Alexandre Aja, Pete Goldfinger, Josh Stolberg
Starring: Elisabeth Shue, Adam Scott, Jerry O'Connell, Ving Rhames, Dina Meyer, Jessica Szohr, Steven R. McQueen, Christopher Lloyd,

In a recent interview, James Cameron has taken Piranha 3D to task over it's use of well... the 3D. The comments may feel slight but not only did it hit some of the makers a bit hard but it also comes across as a little hard to swallow considering the 3-D medium is nearly almost being reserved for animated movies with celebrity voices. It is true that certain directors with more pedigree are looking utilizing the idea of 3-D, Cameron's views come out during a re-release (less than a year after) of Avatar. So despite being the biggest selling movie in the world (with inflation etc.) Cameron wants you back in the cinemas (in 3-D) once more, after you've already brought the DVD (not 3-D) of his epic.

Cameron's words feel sillier to me still because there's still a lot of people out there who couldn't care less about 3-D. Not critics or wanker bloggers like me, but those who go to the flicks once very so often just to watch a flick. The hiked prices, the fussy glasses and the fact that to some, the effect just dosen't do that much, puts them off. "The best films are being made in 3-D" says the director, however, I do feel that films like Toy Story 3 could have done alright without needing to be in 3-D.

This in a around about way brings me to Piranha 3-D a shlocky affair with it an eye on it's target audience and tongue so firmly in it's cheek you'd need some flares, a mobile and some gas to dislodge it. Director Alexander Aja utilities the effect like Pixar do with their short film before the aforementioned Toy Story 3, as an amusing distraction, more than anything else. That train of thought may hurt someone like Cameron, but for a movie like this with it's cheeky references to Jaws and Girls gone Wild alike, it appears to catch the post-modern wave quite well. Quite simply, much like 3-D, the film is a guilty pleasure.

Piranha 3-D starts off with more build up than I expect, and while the fishy foe do make the odd appearance, Aja still saves enough time to give me some thin but fun characters who tuck into the goofy material enough to keep me going. The Expendables clearly wanted to capture this silly little bubble, but for me Piranha is not only more coherent, but also less full of it's self for my liking. Yes, better known stars like Elizabeth Shue and Ving Rhames are in this. They are however taking bites out of the scenery, but it doesn't feel like a grasp at relevance, more like a chance to let their hair down a bit. To be honest, all of the cast are in on the joke so to speak with adequate displays throughout. Yes. even Kelly Brook who is clearly used more for her coke bottle figure over any thespian talents is watchable here.

Also letting it all hang out is the film's director. Aja's film is no-way as intense as his earlier features (Switchblade Romance, The Hills have eyes remake), but this in no way hampers his inventive execution of set pieces. Some feel well known (the two kids on an island waiting for help), while others feel very fresh. The films centerpiece (the destruction of the Lake Victoria beach) has some creative comic death moments, showing the filmmaker at their most playful. With this said Piranha still manages to give off a certain level of threat (although no real full on scares) with some of it's many underwater scenes giving off just enough tension to remain interesting.

Piranha 3-D is a loving hark back to an eighties vibe of horror film-making, mixing the gore drenched splatter features of that era with an extra added Porky's vibe to it. Interestingly with all the gratuitous female features on display, Aja's film still manages to make the characters we're meant to be watching likable enough to forget about the boobs (depending on who you are). A fun, disposable flick with enough gore and laughs for genre fans, Piranha isn't going to make massive waves in the great horror circle, but manages to be a nice nibble for it's 88 minutes.