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Piranha 3-D (2010)

A movie directed by Alejandre Aja.

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3D bares its teeth; Aja is overly indulgent once again.

  • Feb 19, 2011
** 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 there's not much right about it either. The thing is essentially a mixed bag of campiness that works one minute and then doesn't another. There's something that I just don't like about the film's consistent shifts in entertainment value; and it's almost completely deprived of the fun that it intends on delivering. To its credit- because it does indeed deserve some-the film isn't bad, and it delivers every bit of the nudity and gore that it promises. But neither of those things are really selling points for me, and in the end, I wasn't too surprised. The most "Piranha 3D" can really do is entertain me for a good amount of its run-time and then bore me to tears for the rest of it. There are a couple good moments- some of which include a scene in which a penis is devoured by Piranhas, as well as another scene where the filmmakers decide to kill a certain celebrity by the name of Eli Roth- but they're never enough to make this film good. As always, I must give a man some credit for his intentions; and Aja has only good ones. He wants to deliver an 80's-style camp-fest to horror fans everywhere, and I have no doubt on my mind that there will be those who enjoy this little creature-feature. But me, I just think its forgettable and lacking the ambition and consistent hilarity that would have made it the campy classic that the original "Piranha" just wasn't. On the bright side, I can't complain about the lack of Piranha screen-time, since Aja resolves that problem almost completely. But his film is about as awesome as Joe Dante's original; and we all know how much I LOVED that movie. If you know how I felt about that one, then you'll know how I feel about "Piranha 3D". It's just not good enough; and while trying to be less generic, the thing is as generic as you can get what it comes to horror. But if you must get your "Jaws"-spoof fix- and believe me, some people do- then I guess it's safe to say that this is the best you are going to get.

So a couple o' prehistoric fish- make that A LOT of prehistoric fish- escape from their previously sealed underwater caverns after an earthquake sets them loose into the waters of Lake Victoria. The problem is that it's Spring Break, and thousands of College students are poaring into the area for some hard-core partying. The film's central character Jake wants to get in on all the action, although he has promised to baby-sit his siblings. But no, he has to run off with a porno-director instead. Everyone essentially figures out, in their own little way, that there's something in the water. That something is a billion schools of piranhas; which are more aggressive than real piranhas tend to be. These piranhas tear through flesh in a flash, and this proves a huge problem for just about everyone. So yeah, the drunken bastards that be partying get ignorant and jump in the water. This attracts the piranhas, and it turns into one big sequence of never-ending death scenes. Fun, fun, fun. Well, it should be, and it would be; but "Piranha 3D" isn't exactly a shocker. It's not meant to be a scary horror film; but rather a gory and hilarious one. Sometimes I felt that the film got what it was going for when it came to campiness, and then the remainder of the thing I found myself quite bored. Don't get me wrong; this film is fairly entertaining for a killer fish movie. But aren't they all? "Piranha 3D" is limited to a bump of often times funny deaths and buckets of gore; and that's not something you want to limit yourself to when making a horror film. It's not a bad movie overall, but I can honestly say that it's not a good one either. And believe me; that hurts it a lot.

To make a campy movie, you need campy actors. To be honest, not many of the actors here are bad enough to be funny. Most of them are, in fact, quite mediocre. You've got your generic hero-type; played by the ever-so-faithful Steven R. McQueen. Then you've got the hero's mother, played by the slightly better Elizabeth Shue. Then you've got the entertaining Ving Rhames as the friend of the mother, and Jerry O' Connell as the guy who delivers comic relief when needed. And with most horror films, you've got to have eye candy. Eye candy is good right? Well in this case, it's certainly meant to be. Kelly Brook and Riley Steel are fun to look at; and often times, they tend to fit the campy flavor of the film. Brook isn't as bad as Steel is when it comes to acting; but eye candy is just eye candy, and there's not much more to it. Come to think of it, the only campy actor in this film is Christopher Lloyd, who puts on a hilariously lame and campy performance for this film. Too bad he didn't get more screen-time, because something tells me he would have made this film a heck of a lot more worth watching than it is.

If I admire anything about Alexandre Aja's filmmaking, it's that he makes horror films because he wants to please horror fans. He seems to like the genre very much; and I respect his wish to deliver a wild ride with "Piranha 3D". It's an irresponsible, obnoxious film with a lot of nudity and a lot of blood. Great. So where's the consistency in entertainment? Aja doesn't seem to know, and neither does anyone else. That's the problem with this flick; it's never as entertaining as it wants to be. Sure, when it wanted to be super-funny, I laughed. I even laughed hard in some instances, and I saw gore put to some pretty good (and hilarious) use with this film. But the problem is that there's almost no inspiration to this film's plot and its characters. They might as well be card-board cut-outs; and they leave any of the film's success up to the gore and the laughs. I will admit that it makes for an entertaining film for the most part, but I will not call it fun. And do you know why? I won't call "Piranha 3D" fun because in my opinion, it's not. Aside from some very funny scenes, everything else is just mediocre. I do like the look of the film- the underwater scenes are gorgeous and the CGI isn't half bad- but when you're film is all about CGI that's never particularly creative; you've made something fairly generic. Maybe I just don't know how to have fun with a movie that's not as funny as it thinks it is; but then again there's a word that I could self-apply to a film like this, and that word is: pretentious.

I do not have complaints when it comes to Aja's direction, but there's just something I don't like about this film. The film is filled with comic blood n' gore, but it's almost devoid of true fun. It's not bad filmmaking, but it's not a good movie either. The film is forgettable due to its lack of ambition. But I do not blame some people for enjoying it. It's a guilty pleasure; and for some, a damn good one. But I'd personally feel ashamed to say that I liked this film; and I also fear that I'd loose my credibility. But that's not why I didn't enjoy "Piranha 3D". I've just seen too many films like this; and too many of them are bad and mediocre. This film could have done more than it does, and since it doesn't, it's nothing to anticipate watching. I will not tell you NOT to watch the flick, but I think it's for true horror fans only. Otherwise, there's not much to see here. Just a couple good/funny death scenes and cartoonishly campy gore. I can't say I didn't enjoy much of that; but I can't say that I loved much of it either. I mean, come on. When you have a scene where Piranhas eat a CGI penis and it's forgettable; something's up. Something VERY BIG is up. And in "Piranha 3D's" case, the problem is its lack of true creativity and heart. But there's dedication and soul to it; and I like where Aja was going with the flick. It just had a crappy way of presenting itself; and a mediocre way of executing everything else. For that, I just can't recommend it. But whatever, watch the thing if you feel you must. I'm not stopping you.

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February 23, 2011
This was an over the top fun flick, not classic but fun
February 25, 2011
Meh. You could do better, but then again you could do worse.
February 20, 2011
Honestly, I see your points about this movie and I agree with them. But I dunno, I just had fun with this flick. It was a little sleazy, a bit campy and sometimes even silly....but I liked it! LOL! nice review as always though, Ryan.
February 20, 2011
More Piranha (2010 film) reviews
review by . January 14, 2011
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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 . November 21, 2011
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      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.   …
review by . August 20, 2010
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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 …
Quick Tip by . November 21, 2011
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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.
Quick Tip by . March 15, 2011
Perhaps the most retarded horror film of 2010. It's killer fish meets Girls Gone Wild only a lot less interesting. If this is the best that Aja can do, he needs to retire now.
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … 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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