Director: Alexandre Aja
Cast: Elisabeth Shue, Christopher Lloyd,
Ving Rhames, Jerry O'Connell, Steven R. McQueen, Jessica Szohr,
Kelly Brook, Riley Steele, Adam Scott, Dina Meyer, Eli Roth,
RunTime: 1 hr 28 mins
Released By: GV
Rating: R21 (Nudity and Gore)
Official Website: http://piranha-3d.com/#
Opening Day: 14 October 2010
director Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes) comes the new
action thriller Piranha 3D. Every year the population of sleepy
Lake Victoria explodes from 5,000 to 50,000 for Spring Break,
a riot of sun and drunken fun. But this year, there's something
more to worry about than hangovers and complaints from local
old timers; a new type of terror is about to be cut loose
on Lake Victoria. After a sudden underwater tremor sets free
scores of prehistoric man-eating fish, an unlikely group of
strangers must band together to stop themselves from becoming
fish food for the area's new razor-toothed residents.
The way to enjoy a movie like “Piranha 3D” is to know exactly what you are in for. Don’t come looking for Oscar-winning material- there’s barely a script here, though there are two screenwriters credited. Don’t come looking for any of the actors to do much acting- whether from veterans like Elisabeth Shue, Ving Rhames and Jerry O’Connell or newbies like grandson of Steve McQueen, Steven McQueen. And most of all, don’t come looking for restraint- for director Alexandre Aja holds back nothing.
Loosely based on the 1978 Roger Corman original directed by Joe Dante, this is a no-holds-barred guilty-pleasure serving of bikinis, boobs, bodies and blood that gleefully embraces its B-movie tongue-in-cheek nature and delivers a bloody good time. The excuse for this flesh and gore parade is a subterranean tremor that unleashes scores of prehistoric man-eating fish, aka piranha, into the spring-break festivities of Lake Victoria. For the uninitiated, that means thousands of hot-blooded, hot-bodied young males and females in the skimpiest attire possible drinking and dancing.
Aja knows he needs the minimalist of build-ups to get to the main course (pun intended), so for about half an hour, he introduces us to the sheriff (Elisabeth Shue), her deputy (Ving Rhames), her son Jake (Steven McQueen) and his love interest Kelly (Jessica Szohr). Jake’s supposed to be babysitting his two younger siblings, but a chance to be a local guide for Jerry O’Connell’s “Girls Gone Wild”-style filmmaker Derrick and his two hot actresses (read, smoking hot) proves too irresistible.
That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to savour before the carnage begins. Besides some full-frontal nudity, there’s an artistically-staged underwater ballet scene between Derrick’s actresses (Kelly Brook and Riley Steele) which for all purposes and intent does little else but to titillate every male’s sexual fantasies. Ditto for the wet T-shirt contest led by Eli Roth, the guy responsible for similar splatter-fests Hostel and Cabin Fever, who gets his comeuppance once the piranhas stumble upon the revelry.
And yes, when it does begin, the gory mayhem is truly a sight to behold. No-body in the water is spared, in fact no body part, from the carnivores- though they seem particularly drawn to bikini tops. With some terrific help from veteran special effects duo Gregory Nicotero and Howard Berger, Aja stages some truly terrifying scenes, including one where a girl’s hair gets caught in the propeller of a speedboat (don’t say you weren’t warned) and another where a para-sailing girl gets half her body gnawed off.
The French director of High Tension and The Hills Have Eyes fame also displays an uncanny knack for building up the tension before the attack, hence drawing maximum blood when it does happen. And to make the gore less off-putting, he keeps up an irreverent sense of humour throughout the film, two of the best-placed gags involving parts of the anatomy that to the fish are not so very appetising or even edible (trust me, these are two priceless moments in the movie).
Indeed, this is a film that’s made with the same low-budget feel as its 1978 predecessor- even going so far as to open with a “Jaws” homage that has star Richard Dreyfuss drunkenly singing “Show Me the Way to Go Home”, before taking home the honour of being the first victim. It is also pure B-movie shlock, and its actors have gamely and gleefully gone along with Alexandre Aja for the ride. The only technological update is the post-production 3D, which summons enough eye-popping moments to warrant the additional expense.
Still, with or without 3D, it is its blatant embrace of its old-school origins that makes it all the more fun. It doesn’t pretend to be more or less than what it is- a parade of naked flesh and gore designed for maximum visceral thrills- so set your expectations right and you’ll be guaranteed a bloody great time.
(Bikinis, boobs, bodies and blood served up raw for a bloody good time)
Review by Gabriel Chong