Monday, June 18, 2012

Piranha 3DD - Digital Download Review


Theatrical Release Date: June 1, 2012

Yep, this is another Piranha movie and it features boobies in 3D (as if you couldn't already tell by that title...). That's what you want right? Horribly rendered CG killer fish biting girls boobies off? Well, I have some bad news for you then because Piranha 3DD has beaten the odds by taking my already lowered expectations for it and crushing them by producing one of the worst attempts at campy humor I have ever seen.

Review Vital Stats:
Service: Xbox Zune Marketplace
Download Type: Rental
Picture Quality: HD

Loves: That I didn't have to go to the theater to see this
Likes: Piranha 3D, David Hasselhoff, cheesy 80's style horror flicks, horror/comedies
Neutral:Purposeful cheesy effects work
Hates:That Ving Rhames was dragged back into this somehow
Don't let that runtime fool you: The movie is only 70 minutes long with over 14 minutes worth of credits...seriously

Piranha 3D had the dubious distinction of not only being much better than it had any right being but also being one of the first reviews I ever posted (which also demonstrated my lack of articulation during my early years doing this). Hearing that there was a follow up coming out generated very little interest in me. That first film was fun but also very forgettable, so why would I want to see the continuation of something that I had such indifferent feelings towards? The answer to that is simple, why the hell not. I never thought that first film would amount to anything but was surprised by its ingenuity and copious amounts of gore, so I decided I would at the very least give this sequel the same opportunity to surprise me. Well, it surprised me alright, but not in a good way. It is more than apparent that Piranha 3DD is just a sad and lame attempt at repeating what someone thought was the best parts of that first film without truly understanding what made the original Piranha 3D work as well as it did in the first place.

A few weeks, months, years...whatever, after the events at Lake Victoria, there are some sharp as nails people down the road who decide it is a smart idea to open a water park called Big Wet. Why? Because that's what you do after a school of deadly piranha THAT WERE NEVER DEALT WITH eradicate the neighboring town. Anyway, co-owners Maddy (Danielle Panabaker) and her sleazy as shit uncle Chet (David Koechner) are attempting to open the worlds first ever X-rated water park, complete with strippers and all kinds of nudity (gotta make those double D's in that title count for something I guess). But wouldn't you know it, on the eve of opening up to the public those little hungry buggers make their way to the park just in time to crash the party and the only person that can stop them is...David Hasselhoff?

This doesn't seem like too good an idea when there are Piranha lurking about.

I don't really have a whole lot to say about this one. It has killer piranha who feast on some unsuspecting teens who just so happen to be either having sex or about to have sex...and that's it basically. To say this movie has no plot would be doing movies with no plot a disservice cause there is absolutely no reason for anything that happens in this film to actually happen. The script (if you can call it that) seems to be taking every cliche in the book and throwing it into a grinder in hopes that something original spews forth from it and while that worked somewhat for the first film, this one is dealing with a third of the budget, far fewer good actors and less than half of the inspiration, so you do the math on that one. One of the biggest problems with the movie is the lack of originality in the deaths. You have a scene with these two horny teens in a van by the lake playing around for no other reason than to suddenly have them accidentally crash the van into the piranha infested water and get eaten. The guy gets trapped of course because his girlfriend thought it would be kinky to handcuff him to a table and wouldn't you know it, once the van sinks he is fish food, while the girlfriend then gets snuffed out off screen.

What's my problem with that? Well, first of all I didn't give a dam about anything that was happening. Nothing in that scene was interesting or even funny. Even the death scene was boring which is something that even the worst horror films can make entertaining. Second is just how stereotypical that scene played out. Now granted, I have seen a lot of horror films but one of the few redeeming aspects to the original Piranha 3D were its death scenes and the often times absurd events that led up to those deaths which just added to the fun of that film. There is no absurdity going on here, there is no attempt to shock or surprise the audience with something even remotely original (there is one exception that I will get to in a minute however). Every single death in the movie is treated in this same manner with only a handful of moments during the finale that registered anything resembling a pulse.

Hasselhoff kicks ass!

That is Piranha 3DD's greatest failing in my eyes, it is lifeless. The first film had this very self aware nature to it but it also treated every single moment as though it were the greatest thing ever committed to screen. That desire to play it real was what made the comedy, and thusly, the horror work. Here, everyone seems to know that they are in a shitty movie, or at the very least they hired actors who were just not capable of pulling off the "realism" of the situation well enough to sell it. Most people never give a second thought about horror/comedies and usually write them off as being these throwaway movies that were made on a whim, where the reality is that it is very difficult to do a film in that genre and pull it off. The first film did it to a degree which is what made it work, but something like The Cabin in the Woods which was a passion project that took the collaboration of countless talented folks to not only come up with a winning formula but to also sell the joke shows just how wrong both Piranha movies got it, especially this new one. When comparing those films it is abundantly clear which filmmakers were inspired to make something great and which ones were just trying to cash in.

To be fair though, I am a little unsure how this film would have turned out like if it were given a bigger budget and a cast of actors who didn't look like they were borrowed off some reality TV show. This looks like a direct to DVD movie, even mentioning the words "production" and "value" seems out of place when talking about it. I don't usually hold budgetary constraints against a film since plenty of talented filmmakers have taken nothing and turned it into something (see Sam Raimi and the Evil Dead series), but notice the key word there, talent. Now I'm sure everyone that made this movie are some nice folks who probably had a good time filming it but that never comes across in the final cut and more importantly it takes more than just having good intentions to make a good film. I don't care if someone is clearly holding a rubber fish to their neck and pretending it is biting them and I really could care less if there were a story tying everything together, just entertain me and I will be fine. Piranha 3DD couldn't even do that.

Yep, that is a rubber fish she is holding there...yawn.

The one standout scene in the film though is probably the most inventive idea in the entire movie which centers around this young woman (Katrina Bowden) and her boyfriend (whoever he is) and their first sexual encounter. But earlier when they were skinny dipping she felt something bite her and didn't give it a second thought. When that bite catches up with her later on during this stereotypical slasher film sex scene...well, it is kinda cool. The scene is over the top, ridiculous and rather stupefying which are all the ingredients needed for a film like this. But that cool factor is shot in the foot by being shot and directed in a way that makes the joke fall flat. The reactions that both characters have are confounding and not really in keeping with the slapstick/parody nature of the film. Then again maybe they are playing it right and I just didn't get it, but either way it was the only time during the movie where I felt like there was some potential there which was quickly overshadowed by the best thing in the whole film, the introduction of David Hasselhoff.

I gotta admit that I wasn't too impressed with the announcement of him being in this thing. I thought it was silly and a little too on the nose for something that was supposed to be playing it for real. But I found myself quite pleased with Mr. Hasselhoff's self-parody and his obvious nods to his historic Baywatch TV series (as a kid of the 80's it is rather strange to think most people remember him as Mitch and not Michael Knight). He was the only actor in this thing that seemed to not only get the joke but also play it straight-faced enough to sell it. I was even more surprised at the amount of screen time he was given which was more than welcome considering how bland and boring every other character was. Even David Koechner, a comedic actor who usually hits it out of the park, turned in a very uncharacteristically poor performance which left Mr. Hasselhoff all on his own to help support the final third of the film when the shit hits the fan, which he did quite well at. But then that leads me to my biggest gripe for the entire film, the sadness that is the finale for Piranha 3DD.

The finale is a total let down compared to what happened in the first film.

The final attack on the water park was a severe letdown in comparison to the glorious orgy of violence that was Piranha 3D's finale. Not only was that scene more insane than this, but it also featured much much better effects work overall. The mayhem and chaos during that scene is nowhere to be found here. Even though there are people being slaughtered left and right here, it all felt very tame. I couldn't help but feel that the scene should have been over within a mere few minutes because all anyone had to do was just get out of the pool. Then there were some extremely lame attempts at humor with a certain character's head being decapitated and landing in the cleavage of a rather generously sized pair of breasts. That should have been funny, but just like everything else in this thing it was just handled with such an amateurish touch that it came off as some fans recreation video of that first film uploaded to YouTube or something. They even dragged poor Ving Rhames (didn't he die in the first film?) and Christopher Lloyd (still the best part of that first film) back for what feels like no reason at all (at least Elisabeth Shue had enough sense to stay away from this thing). Why would Ving Rhames visit a water park and in full uniform? It makes no sense.

Ultimately this movie is the lowest common denominator of horror/comedies. If you want to see the highpoint of what can be achieved in this genre then look at the recent release (and sadly overlooked) film The Cabin in the Woods. But if you are interested in seeing how off the rails these types of films can go when you have some filmmakers who think they can just throw some titties and blood at the screen and call it a movie, then I guess Piranha 3DD delivers on that at least. As strange as this may sound, none of the creativity found in that first film (never thought I would call Piranha 3D creative), is present here which is just a shame because you can see some potential in the premise they had there. In the end though I cannot find it in myself to recommend this film in any fashion other than perhaps as a free stream when it becomes available on whatever services will take it. So with that I will end this by saying...




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