Thursday 10 May 2012

Piranha 3D

Fish, Drugs and Rock n’ Roll

Piranha 3D USA 2010
Directed by Alexandre Aja
Entertainment In Video Region 2

Okay... so Piranha 3D is one of the most non-politically correct, sexist pieces of cinematic trash committed to celluloid. The whole movie feels like it was written to be the worst ever, unsubtle “Carry On film on acid” there ever was... it objectifies women to a disturbing degree and contradicts all its own subtext just for the sake of extra violent gore.

Now... bearing in mind everything I just wrote then, I have to admit that I found this film to be, not only everything I was expecting from all of the previous Piranha films (they all failed to deliver) but also to be generally better made than all its predecessors too. I actually kind of enjoyed it somewhat... although everything inside me is telling me that’s probably wrong.

Now I have to confess here that, while the DVD has the 3D version and a couple of sets of (way too small for an average head wearing normal glasses) 3D glasses to watch it by... I only lasted a few minutes on this print. I just couldn’t get the 3D to work properly and I got tired of watching double images all over the movie. So I gave up for the sake of a speedier afternoon and switched discs to the 2D version. Sorry about this but it had to be done.

My first big criticism is that it does exactly the opposite of what the awful 90s TV remake did... in that it isn’t in any way a remake. Now what I would have liked to have seen was for this to be an alternative, improved version of the original material, with some characters and places still in the movie... but this one not only dispenses with all of the characters from the first movie... it also throws out the plot completely. This school of Piranhas are not the military engineered killers invented to put an end to the Vietnam war before the funding was withdrawn, as they were in the Joe Dante movie. In this one a completely unexplained tremor opens a rift under a lake which lets loose various prehistoric, baby piranha which are thought to have been extinct for, like, a gazillion years. These are the toothed killers that do all the fleshy damage in this movie and the plot of the original never, unfortunately, rears its head on this one at all.

The film starts a lot better than I thought it would with a fishing Richard Dreyfuss being the newly released fishies first victim. Not only that but, to boot, he’s singing “Show me the way to go home” just like he did in Jaws. So this movie starts off by smartly playing with a dead-on reference to the film the original Piranha movie from 1978 was trying to cash in on. Unfortunately, this standard of post-modernistic japery is not prevalent for most of the movie and very quickly this film becomes all about the cinematic worship of female breasts. Now as a spirited male individual I have to say that I did greatly enjoy the profusion of female flesh displayed in this movie, which is easily the most exploitational in the series so far, but I also found myself pretty much cringing at the male derogatory attitudes towards women to be found on display in this story. I have to admit that, by the end of the movie, my head and my groin were feeling fairly conflicted and confused by this experience.

The effects and goriness are mostly impressive... a lot of people come to horrendously nasty ends which gives this killer fish movie a bit more bite than its predecessors. Now I don’t usually like gore for gore’s sake but there were a couple of bits of bloody death in this one which weren’t completely fish related and had an edge because they were completely unexpected.

One sequence which was interesting is when an out-of-control electrical cable accidentally slices a woman diagonally in half through the cleavage. It takes a while for both the audience and the victim to realise what just happened, as the lady in question watches as her top bits gradually slide away from the rest of her body. Another inventive sequence of goriness is when a lady being bitten by lively fish gets her long hair caught in the outboard motor of a boat being driven by a fleeing teenage boy. When he finally gets the motor restarted it scalps the woman, tearing half of her skin from her head. 

Little touches like this are, it should be acknowledged, fairly grotesque but also somewhat satisfying when mixed in with the other fish related carnage. These sequences raised the bar a little on the expectations of what a movie like this could give it’s audience and you have to applaud it a little for not just relying on nibbly teeth to comply with the appetite of the gore-gore crowd. 

There’s a lot of humour in the film, especially the last few seconds following the revelations as to the nature of these particular predators by a fish expert played by Christopher Lloyd (it was also nice to see Christopher Lloyd and Elizabeth Shue working together again since their time on the second and third Back To The Future movies) but, for the most part, this movie relies too much on jokes relating to various bits of female anatomy to the point where it kinda wears you down a little. It works fine for the first couple of one-liners but after a while it just gets old really fast.

As a red blooded male I have to say that Piranha 3D has a lot of bosomy women on screen, so it’s not a film I found boring on any level. At the same time, I can’t bring myself to recommend a film that treats women as objects as much as this one does (even with Shue playing such a strong female lead). Ultimately, if you want to see a movie with loads of nudity (some of it quite stunning, it has to be acknowledged) and violence towards... um... anything human, then you’re probably going to end up watching this one whether you want to or not at some point. Either way, I’m almost looking forward to seeing the sequel when it comes to cinemas soon. Review to follow shortly.

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