Sunday, August 22, 2010

"Piranha 3D"

Piranha 3D - Directed by Alexandre Aja, written by Pete Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg, starring Elisabeth Shue, Adam Scott, Ving Rhames, and Jerry O'Connell - Rated R

Was there any doubt that a film called Piranha 3D would get a Kurgan?

I’ve been on the fence about 3D for awhile now. Actually, I’m okay with 3D movies, it’s the converted movies I take issue with, like Alice in Wonderland, Clash of the Titans, and The Last Airbender. With those movies, I felt that the 3D was tacked on and served only as a gimmick. It didn’t help that the 3D in those films just plain sucked. Well, Piranha 3D is converted, but the 3D succeeds for the very fact that it’s gimmicky. I’m okay with 3D as a blatant, cheesy gimmick when the movie itself is so amazingly crappy.

Yeah, Piranha 3D is a terrible film…and it’s the most fun I’ve had in the theatre in months. Here’s the story, not that it matters: an earthquake opens up a subterranean lake filled with prehistoric piranha, unleashing the flesh-eating creatures on a bunch of drunken spring breakers. That should sound stupid, but if you’re like me, you think it also sounds kind of awesome.

I have to stress that only certain types of people will dig this movie. You have to be the kind of person who likes to watch the occasional “bad” movie. You have to have a particular sense of humor, as well. That means you have to be the kind of person who laughs at completely over the top violence. I’ll put it this way: at one point in the film, a boat runs over and mangles countless people for about a two minute span. During that time, I was laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes. It’s not that I just love a good boating accident, it’s because the scene was so ridiculously death-filled. I heard multiple people laughing right along with me, so either we’re all messed up in the head, or we understood this movie.

Some people take issue with the idea of “turning off your brain” to enjoy a movie, but I am not one of those critics. I have no problem taking some movies less seriously than others. If I looked at Piranha 3D with an extremely critical eye, then this review would be nothing more than a list of faults with the film. But more importantly, I would not have enjoyed this film at all if I got hung up on the problems with it. In fact, with this movie, I found some of the faults amusing. For example: on the way back from the theatre, I asked my friend if he could remember how and when a slightly main character had died. Neither of us could remember a principal character’s fate. When I looked on the IMDb boards for an answer, I found that there wasn’t one; the character simply disappeared from the movie. A mistake like that is hilarious. It makes me wonder if director Alexandre Aja did it on purpose.

It’s not all about what’s wrong with the movie, though. Piranha 3D gets so much fun stuff completely right that I have a hard time focusing on any other issues. First off, the cast is amusingly strange: Elisabeth Shue, Ving Rhames, Jerry O’Connell, Richard Dreyfuss, Christopher Lloyd, Eli Roth, and Adam Scott. A few of these are just amusing cameos, but they are great. Dreyfuss was funny as a living reference to Jaws, Eli Roth was perfect as an obnoxious DJ, and it was awesome to see Christopher Lloyd in Doc Brown mode as the fish expert.

As for the stars, they have their moments, but O’Connell and Scott stick out from the rest. O’Connell is completely cheesy as a Girls Gone Wild-type “filmmaker.” He gets to act obnoxious and coked up the entire movie and he’s pretty good at it. Adam Scott, typically a comedic actor, is playing it serious in this film, but he’s doing it so terribly that his performance ends up being the funniest. His exclamations and ridiculous “heroic” moments (his adeptness with a shotgun whilst riding a jet ski was particularly amusing) were great. Make no mistake, though, Adam Scott is a fine actor and I honestly believe his performance here is completely intentional.

Acting is kind of a nonissue in a movie like this, though. The real question is whether or not this film delivers on the campy goods that an exploitation film promises, like excessive female nudity and buckets and buckets of blood and gore. This movie absolutely brings on the nudity and the gore, often at the same time. The action sequences are all funny and enjoyable. They are filmed quite ably as well. I would go so far as to say that the big action set pieces near the end of the film are worth the price of admission alone.

Thankfully, Piranha 3D delivers more than just action. Believe it or not, this movie is a total package of entertainment…for certain types of people. And don’t think that you have to see this one in 3D; that element was amusing at times, but you don’t need a third dimension to have fun with this one.

Random thoughts - SPOILERS
Okay, more on the boat rampage. When the dude freaked out and went on a murderous boat ride, I just lost it for multiple reasons. It was an act of cowardice on a monumental scale. Also, the sound of screaming coupled with a propellor mowing through a crowd of people makes me laugh for some reason. It was so wonderfully ridiculous.

Paul Scheer (gap-toothed camera guy) just disappears from this movie. He's just gone with no explanation. Maybe his death took the film into NC-17 territory or something. Anyway, it was odd that he doesn't get a death scene, but when I was talking about it after the movie it made me laugh, so that's good...I think.

Adam Scott's "heroic" moment on the jet ski was completely stupid, in a good way. He picked up people, drove them ten yards or so and dropped them the water. He did yell for them to get to the shore, but wouldn't it have been more helpful to take them to the shore?

Naked women making out underwater can somehow hold their breath for an insane amount of time. Seriously, those ladies are underwater for a good five minutes of screen time.

Ving Rhames kind of pointlessly sacrifices himself. I don't think he saved many lives by killing a few piranha with a detached outboard motor. It was funny and cool, though.

I guess it's not that big of a deal with a movie like this, but it is pretty ridiculous that the very last shot of the movie is shown in the previews. There was absolutely no need to throw that shot in the commercials for this movie. I just don't get it.

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