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Piranha 3-D (2010)

A movie directed by Alejandre Aja.

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The Next Dimension for Flesh-Eating Fish

  • Aug 20, 2010
Back when James Cameron's "Avatar" was released, there was a lot of talk about the future of 3-D movies - about how much better the process had become with high definition cameras, about how they didn't simply throw things at the screen but actually immersed you in another world. In March of 2009, Josh Quittner of "Time" published an article about the 3-D revolution, particularly in relation to "Avatar," which had yet to be released. After seeing some finished footage, he concluded that the work was so absorbing and detailed that he awoke the following morning with the peculiar sensation of wanting to return to Pandora, as if it were real. "Cameron wasn't surprised," he wrote. "One theory, he says, is that 3-D viewing `is so close to a real experience that it actually triggers memory creation in a way that 2-D viewing doesn't.' His own theory is that stereoscopic viewing uses more neurons."

Given what was said at the time, what would Quittner say now about movies like "Piranha 3-D," a remake of Joe Dante's 1978 film? Hell, what would Cameron say, given that 1981's "Piranha II: The Spawning" was his directorial debut? Would there be any mention of triggering memory creations or neurons or wanting to return to anything? I have my doubts. They might, however, have a thing or two to say about a shot late in the film of two piranhas fighting over a severed penis, the victor eventually spitting out the half-eaten remains directly at the screen. The audience I sat with had plenty to say, although not in words so much as in loud outbursts of disgust and laughter; I clearly heard a guy a few rows behind me say, "Dude, ugh, dude!" This is the future of 3-D, folks. Cameron and Quittner should be proud.

I'm going out on a limb here, but "Piranha 3-D" is about as good as a film called "Piranha 3-D" can possibly be. It's a no-holds-barred celebration of campy horror - bloody, brainless, and bawdy. It cheerfully assaults the senses and spits in the face of decency, not merely with scene after scene of relentless gore, but also with its exploitation of female anatomy, specifically breasts. Oh boy, but there are a lot of breasts in this movie, aided in no small part by real life adult actress Riley Steele and "Playboy" model Kelly Brooke. Director Alexandre Aja might as well have called it "Piranhas and Boobs 3-D."

Now that I have your attention, shall we get to the plot? In the sleepy little town of Lake Victoria, seismic activity ruptures the lakebed and unleashes thousands of carnivorous prehistoric piranhas from an underwater chasm. They swim to the shores of Lake Victoria, where hordes of loud, drunken, horny teenage tourists are in the thick of Spring Break tomfoolery. The local sheriff, Julie Forester (Elisabeth Shue), and her deputy, Fallon (Ving Rhames), try to solve the mystery of how a half-eaten body washed up on shore; they join forces with a specially trained underwater research team, and as you can probably guess, the divers will not like what they find when they reach the chasm. Meanwhile, Julie's teenage son, Jake (Steven R. McQueen), is drawn into the world of Derrick Jones (Jerry O'Connell), a sleazoid Joe Francis parody filming his newest porn movie on a boat.

Julie manages to bring a live piranha to Mr. Goodman (Christopher Lloyd), the eccentric fish store owner and convenient piranha expert. This particular species, he claims, was supposed to have gone extinct millions of years ago; apparently, the ones that escaped the chasm kept themselves alive by feeding on themselves. Okay, I'll give him that one; we know that cannibalistic species can successfully procreate. But what about the fact that they have emerged from complete darkness and extreme pressure, meaning they would not be able to adapt to the light or to the shallow waters, meaning they wouldn't be able to reach the human flesh they so hunger for? Evolution has taught us that, in all likelihood, these fish wouldn't even have eyes.

But what a minute. Why am I applying logic to this film? It's not about scientific accuracy. It's about people being eaten alive. It's about severed limbs floating in the water. It's about moments of blood-soaked absurdity, like when a girl gets her hair caught in the propeller blades of a boat, pulling her scalp and face clean off her skull. It's about naked girls repeatedly shaking their chests. I wish it wasn't about severed penises and the fish that enjoy eating them, but I guess you have to take the good with the bad. I can't bring myself to say that "Piranha 3-D" is a good film, but it certainly achieves exactly what it wanted to achieve. You will laugh. You will scream. You will cringe. Assuming you're a straight male, you will be aroused for much of the time. It's sordid fun. All the same, I can't help but wonder if James Cameron, who revolutionized the 3-D experience, isn't somewhere right now sulking in shame.

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December 05, 2010
Can't wait for the DVD/Blu-Ray release of this, great review.
October 04, 2010
The original had a John Sayles script. Apparently this one is not going to be able to boast about who penned it a couple of decades later. =)
August 24, 2010
wow! I was planning on seeing this but I decided to skip it; now your review is making me regret that decision. Thanks for the review and welcome to our community!
August 24, 2010
Thanks. Watching this movie, it very quickly becomes apparent that you're not meant to take it seriously. As Pauline Kael said, "Movies are so rarely great art that if we cannot appreciate great trash, we have very little reason to be interested in them."
More Piranha (2010 film) reviews
review by . January 14, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Munch On Some Hot Bods, Bring On The Blood, Gore and Comedy!!
Remember how the now-classic monster film “Jaws” had inspired many films that portray of sea beasts on a rampage? Movies like “Orca”, “Alligator” and even the 1978 Roger Corman classic “Piranha” were a dime-a-dozen in multiplexes. Corman’s classic film was a great time; it was filled with comedic overtones with a successful low-budget execution that inspired the viewers’ imagination. Directed by Joe Dante, the 1978 classic was just so much …
review by . February 19, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
** out of ****     Alexandre Aja's "Piranha 3D" is an obnoxious horror film that wants to be as harmless as possible by offending many and entertaining just about anyone else. It promises a boobs-n'-blood thrill-ride, and it delivers one; for the most part. While there are certainly some entertaining scenes to "Piranha 3D", and in many ways it's better than the film its remaking, it's not as good as it might want to be. There's not much wrong with "Piranha 3D", but then again …
review by . November 21, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
      PIRANHA      Ah remakes, they are some tricky little things. It seems like so many come out that you hate them all. You swear them all off and then a good one actually makes its way out. This kiddies is one such remake, one that is actually good. Of course with Alexandre Aja behind the boards you knew this was going to entertaining. I mean how could it not be as he really knows how to make these types of flicks. I knew this was going to be a fun ride.   …
Quick Tip by . November 21, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
This is one of those meant to be fun flicks that were never meant to be taken seriously. If you went into this expecting a real dramatic scary flick then I know you were surprised. Of course any film that is in theaters as a 3-D flick can not be taken seriously in my opinion. Also how could a remake from a classic be anything but awesome fun. From the kills to the T&A this is just a popcorn flick.
About the reviewer
Chris Pandolfi ()
Ranked #2
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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Debating the merits of Piranha 3D, director Alexandre (Mirrors) Aja's testosterone-driven valentine to Joe Dante's 1978 original and the excesses of '80s genre films in general, is a fool's errand; it is, after all, a movie about prehistoric fish preying on hormonal partygoers in various states of undress--and in 3D, mind you--so any review must answer the question--does it deliver what its key audience (young men, ages 14 to 24) require? On that front, the answer is an unequivocal yes. Special effects creators Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger present a veritable buffet of gruesome ways for the thinly drawn characters to die, from a piranha burrowing through a swimmer's head to the horrible encounter between a boat propeller and a longhaired victim. The sheer amount of nudity on display rivals a week's worth of Cinemax late-night screenings, rendered all the more excessive in 3D; as for the gimmick itself, it lends some unsettling depth to the underwater attacks. In short, if one attends Piranha 3D for grindhouse-style yucks, it's bound to be a rollicking good time. All others may find its relentless, Red Bull drive wearying; the whole affair is clearly meant to be a goof, just as Dante's original (produced by Roger Corman and penned by John Sayles) was, but where Dante's target was monster movie camp of the '50s and '60s (as well as Jaws), Aja and writers Peter Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg take aim at either ...
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Director: Alejandre Aja
Genre: Horror
Release Date: August 20, 2010
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Josh Stolberg
Runtime: 89 minutes
Studio: Dimension
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