Review of Piranha 3D


Movie Review: "Piranha 3D" --

Rating: R (strong bloody violence, horror, gore, graphic nudity, sexuality, language, drug use)
Length: 83 minutes
Release Date: May 11, 2012
Directed by: John Gulager
Genre: Horror/Comedy/Thriller
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

The director of "Piranha 3DD" is John Gulager, who became famous as one of the winners of the now-defunct HBO series "Project Greenlight." As the winner, he got to direct his own screenplay, a gory horror thriller called "Feast." With "Piranha 3DD," Gulager returns to these bloody roots, providing a worthy sequel to Alexandre Aja's 2010 campy remake of the original "Piranha," which was released in 1978.

The film starts out with a young marine biologist named Maddy (Danielle Panabaker) who clearly does not get along with her brute of a stepfather, Chet (David Koechner). While Maddy was away on a work assignment, Chet transformed the water park she owned into an adult-themed park. He named it Big Wet and installed stripper poles for the lifeguards and several underwater cameras to capture footage of scantily-clad women. Maddy is predictably less than thrilled about the park's transformation, but Chet is completely unapologetic.

It turns out the park lies on the outskirts of Lake Victoria, which was the location of "Piranha." In that 2010 film, ancient piranhas were awakened from their underground slumber by an earthquake, which released them into the lake. The film ended with the implication that there were still a few large adult piranhas around. In "Piranha 3DD," it's clear that these fish mated and now a whole new generation of piranhas has been born just a stone's throw from Big Wet.

Beyond the back story about Big Wet and Maddy and Chet's strained relationship, there really isn't much of a plot to the film. After the initial introductory scenes, the rest of the movie is basically one attack after another, with each scene a little bloodier and more imaginative than the one before. There are definitely a few attacks that will make the audience cringe.

Most of the attacks take advantage of the film's 3-D format. Most movies undergo a conversion to 3-D after they have been filmed in two dimensions. This was not the case with "Piranha 3DD," which was filmed using special 3-D cameras. Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan and Joel Soisson wrote the script with the 3-D cameras in mind. The result is a film that takes full advantage of the technology, including a few gory moments that are not for the squeamish or anyone else with a weak stomach.

Two of the stars from the 2010 film make small cameo appearances in this sequel. An almost unrecognizable Christopher Lloyd returns as Carl Goodman, the fish expert who first identified the piranhas. His character is just as wacky as he was in the first film, and he once again identifies the meat-eating fish and the threat they pose. Just as in the first film, most people fail heed his warnings, which could have averted disaster.

The other actor from the first film is Ving Rhames who plays Deputy Fallon, a man who saved many lives in the first film. He returns here to kick more piranha butt, chewing scenery along the way. His performance is completely over-the-top in a movie that already has more than a few over-the-top moments.

Speaking of cameos, David Hasselhoff makes one as himself. He seems to have absolutely no problem mocking himself or his place in pop culture history. When the audience first sees him, he is bedding a few local beauties while waiting to make a paid appearance at Big Wet as a celebrity lifeguard. He is in full cheesy "Baywatch" mode, complete with red trunks and flotation device. When the huge, final attack of the piranhas happens right in front of him, he continues to crack jokes at his own expense.

That final attack fills the clear blue waters of Big Wet with red. There is enough bloodshed and half-eaten bodies to fill several morgues by the time the attack is over. The scenes of the piranhas in a feeding frenzy, chomping on various human body parts, are very graphic and not at all for the faint of heart.

With all the gore and bloody mayhem, the film is obviously going for a niche audience. Instead of being a straight-up horror film, though, it actually works as a comedy. The violence is cartoonish and the cameos, particularly that of Hasselhoff, are milked for maximum laughs. Many killings are played for both laughs and gasps. If you don't take "Piranha 3DD" seriously, you will have fun and find yourself laughing as much as you gasp at the many scenes of carnage.

Tags: Piranha 3D