Piranha 3D


Dir: Alexandre Aja
Star: Steven R. McQueen, Elisabeth Shue, Jerry O'Connell, Jessica Szohr

This revamp of the Roger Corman "classic" of the 70's takes a similar tack as the original - part-homage to, part-parody of Jaws, a concept made clear from the opening scene where Richard Dreyfuss becomes the critter's first snack. He's unlucky enough to be fishing when an earthquake opens up the subterranean lake, where the prehistoric piranhas have been stuck for a couple of million years, with nothing to each except each other. They are now, needless to say, a bit peckish. Meanwhile, at the nearby resort of 'Lake Victoria' [a thinly-disguised Lake Havasu - you can see London Bridge now and again!], spring break is under way. Jake Forester (McQueen) wants to enjoy it, but has been ordered by his mother (Shue), who also happens to be the local sherriff, to babysit his younger siblings. However, a porn director shooting a film on the lake makes him an offer he really can't refuse, so he slides out of his familial duties, and is joined on the boat by his former crush, Kelly (Szohr). After Sherriff Forester discovers the threat, she tries to clear the lake, which has become an all-you-can-nibble buffet for the killer fish; meanwhile, Jake's little brother and sister get themselvews stuck on an island, and Jake's boat springs a leak.

We didn't see this in 3D, but the central concept remains fun - the Nicotero-Berger effects are very impressive, especially during a lengthy sequence of total carnage in the middle, when the shoal finds the partying students and a feeding frenzy occurs. Until then, the film seems curiously more interested in breasts than beasts, provoking heavy sighage from Chris's corner, particularly during the 'mermaid' sequence; you'll know it when you see it. However, after the naked parasailing goes horribly wrong, the focus returns to the gore, and the film is all the better for it. Admittedly, most of the characters are wafer-thin, and few evoke any more significant response than "Well, I hope they get eaten very shortly." Together with a script that doesn't exactly smack of great wit, this keeps the film as being not much more than a passable time-waster. Aja certainly keeps things moving, however, and I'm not averse to the idea of seeing the sequel. Given it's entitled Piranha 3DD, likely more so than Chris...

C+
[September 2011]


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