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Movie Review: Piranha 3D

August 20, 2010

Wow, when Alexandre Aja makes a movie, he doesn’t mess around.  This remake of the campy Roger Corman classic from 1978 is balls-to-the-walls INSANE. It’s a tits and ass parade with a thumping soundtrack and gore, gore, gore.

It’s an absolute bloodbath, and Aja packs as much as possible into the 82 minute running time. The piranha killings are gruesome enough, but Aja ups the visceral ante with decapitation via boat, nasty run-ins with boat engines, and other unsavory modes of death.

It was pure genius to use a popular Spring Break location as the backdrop for the “story.”  What better way to get as much nudity as possible into the movie?  And boy, is there nudity. Quite frankly, I am surprised the film got an “R” rating, so prudes need not apply.

Aja embraces the nudity much like he does the gore, and then some.  Boobs are BOOBS here, and they are literally in your face.  The hoochie-fied spring break crowd is all to willing to take off their tops (and bottoms) at the slightest provocation.  There is enough silicone to fill a football stadium, and Aja has fun with it.  We even see two implants bobbing in the surf after their enhanced owner is long gone.

The ultimate foray into soft-porn territory features an extended nude scene with Kelly Brook and Riley Steele doing some erotic dance underwater to “The Flower Duet.” It is so absurd and over the top that I nearly choked on my diet coke laughing.  That’s the way the whole movie is, you just keep thinking “oh no, they didn’t,” but of course they did.

This time around, a seismic shift in Lake Victoria has caused an long dormant underwater cave to release a population of prehistoric piranhas.  They can’t just be piranhas, they have to be prehistoric piranhas, so they are even more bad-ass and nasty. Plain old piranhas would not suffice.

Elisabeth Shue plays a no-nonsense mom who happens to be the local sheriff.  She establishes early on that she is one tough cookie by telling a horn-dog boy who propositions her that she will mess him up so bad that he “will be pissing lightning bolts into next week.”

Ving Rhames in Piranha 3DHer side kick is Ving Rhames, who manages to utter that campy phrase we all hold near and dear, “I’m too old for this.”  At one point he plucks an outboard motor off the back of a boat (with no discernible effort, I might add) and wields it as a weapon.  If that is not crazy enough, Adam Scott gets his inner Rambo on and starts single-handedly rescuing swimmers on a jet ski while carrying a shot gun.  It is epic.  It is awesome.

The eclectic and enjoyable cast includes Richard Dreyfuss in a short but satisfying cameo, Christopher Lloyd as the local fish expert, Dina Myer and Ricardo Chivaro as government divers investigating the seismic activity, and Jessica Szohr as the only woman in the film with natural breasts.

Jerry O’Connell plays a deliciously evil villain as soft core peddler and owner of “Wild, Wild Girls,” an obvious bow to Girls Gone Wild and the Joe Francis empire. I really wish that he would have had a porn mustache, though.   Comedian Paul Scheer is his bumbling right hand man.

It’s easy to dismiss the acting in Piranha 3D, but give credit where credit is due: those actresses playing bimbos are really convincing.  Does that mean they are good actresses?  Did I just blow your mind?

In all sincerity, Aja has produced thrilling movie equal parts camp and horror. Haute Tension and The Hills Have Eyes (2006) were both serious, dour movies (that I enjoyed), so it is nice to see him cut loose and have a little fun.

Special acknowledgements to the make-up and F/X crew, that shit looks real.  There are a few things that look fake, and are obviously done for the camp, but most of the dismembered bodies are amazing.

The fish themselves are a little goofy looking, they look like monsters wearing armour, but that is a minor quibble. I’ll take it.

Take a dip in the bloody waters of Piranha 3D for the perfect end to your summer movie slate.

Note: I saw a 2D showing, thus did not comment on the 3D effects.

Rating: 4/5



7 Responses to “ Movie Review: Piranha 3D ”

  1. Eric Melin on August 20, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    You DID blow my mind. Or am I just jealous that you were able to take a Friday morning off to go see this since they wouldn’t screen it for press?

    Fun is something that has been missing from Aja’s films, but you could always tell he was clever enough to take chances, even when not all of either of those two films you mentioned worked 100%.

    Great review and description–good to know they embrace both the boobs and the right to poke fun at Francis. Wonder how barbed their jabs are…

  2. Grace on August 20, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    What a fun review. Love the JAWS shout-out to Richard Dreyfuss, genius casting. I will so NOT be going to this movie (I’ll be at THE SWITCH), but I’ll be sure to recommend it to the boyz.

  3. Ryan on August 20, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    WOW! Did you just make me want to see this? Fuck yes you did. I was totally not on the band wagon till now. Great review as always!

  4. Shannon on August 20, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    @Ryan Thanks! I hope I don’t oversell it, but I just got back from a second screening and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

  5. Shannon on August 20, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    @Eric Thanks- let me know what you think when you go.

  6. Shannon on August 20, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    @Grace Thanks Grace. I had a blast. Had a second helping today!

  7. Joy on August 23, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    This makes me want to leave work early and go see the movie RIGHT NOW.