Starring: Elisabeth Shue, Christopher Lloyd, Eli Roth, Richard Dreyfuss, Ving Rhames, Kelly Brook, Jerry O’Connell
Director: Alexandra Aja
Writer(s): Pete Goldfinger, Josh Stolberg
Cinematography: John R. Leonetti
Original Score: Michael Wandmacher
Running Time: 89 Mins.
There seems to be some argument surrounding the massive growth of 3D in film, and at one end stand Cameron, Zemeckis and Spielberg, the most highly regarded directors, men with whom 3D, it is said, is a tool for enhancing the viewing experience to give depth to a film, to draw you in, no gimmicks here I’m afraid just lots of swooping around an alien jungle. On the other end of the spectrum we have the idea that 3D is for exploitation, the whole reason it existed to begin with, as a way of further scaring the bejesus out of audiences all the way back to the 40’s and 50’s in its crudest form, then again in the 80’s and once again now with the likes of My Bloody Valentine and Piranha in order to have blood, limbs and vomit hurled out the screen into your lap, and multiple breast shots thrust into your face.
Well, I have to say messr’s Cameron, Spielberg and Zemeckis, I’d take blood and breasts over supposed “depth” any day. This is not something that suggests my shallow, male, nature (well maybe just a little), rather it suggests I want a 3D film to be gimmicky for 3D is first and foremost a gimmick and really rather pointless if not exploited and on this count Piranha is actually a better film than Avatar…yes I said Avatar, for I like my 3D glasses to serve a purpose other than for a muted-coloured forest that actually looks more impressive in plain old 2D (HD of course!), something I would hazard a guess cannot be said about Alex Aja’a Piranha.
Two whole paragraphs on 3D may seem a little overt, really we should be over it by now but the point is that Piranha is as enjoyable as it is largely owing to its third dimension, and has been marketed as such, this is more than a film it is a 3D event film despite a post-3D conversion implemented much more slickly than that of Clash of the Titans, exploitative as you like and chock full of gore those than walk in to the cinema with the right mindset will have a joyously exploitative time. The cast all know that this is hardly high art yet play it relatively straight with the odd knowing wink to the audience peppered throughout the script, again not exactly unique by any stretch of the imagination but aware of its tone, a tone that Snakes on a Plane would like to have achieved yet failed.
Plot really is of little consequence, suffice to say if you have seen the trailer you’ve seen all you need to know as a fissure on the bed of Lake Victoria releases some ancient piranha just days before the “famous” lake party that sees many buxom blondes splashing around in the lake while Jerry O’ Connell’s porn director attempts to direct his latest smut-fest, it is a non-stop barrage of kills strung together with memorable performances and little in the way of plot, but it just works through sheer absurdity.
Cameos from Richard Dreyfuss and Christopher Lloyd are the high points, Lloyd proving a particular delight, but everyone bar Shue who is saddled with the dullest role, are given a moment to shine with kudos going to Adam Scott for becoming an unlikely action hero, the piranha themselves have more in common with Gremlins (a good tonal comparison too!) than they do anything else that could pass as scary, for jump-shocks are the order of the day rather than any genuine jolts. This being an Aja film the deaths are plentiful and gratuitous as you would expect, using the unique stripping of flesh the piranha use as a novel way of using physical effects to the max.
Aside from the gore the big talking point here is likely the equal amount of flesh (naked and female) on display, a staple of the genre is would be classed as borderline pornographic if it wasn’t so hokey, that said which male viewer is going to complain at a naked Kelly Brook performing underwater ballet with a high-profile porn star and in 3D no less. And quite frankly if that last sentence doesn’t make you smile, for whatever reason, Piranha 3D and its kitsch charm is likely going to be totally lost on you, high art this is not, and neither does it purport to be.
Piranha 3D provides a true tongue-in-cheek cinema experience, for those of you who write it off as rubbish, you just don’t get it…it is supposed to be, parody at its best with more boobs and gore than you can shake a stick at, you’re either going to buy into it, or…well you get the idea!