The following review was published in iMAGES on Sunday on Friday, September 10, 2010. Below is the unedited version. The links to the published version found online at Dawn.com can be found below.
Bikini Babes Gnawed to the Bone in Big 3D
By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid and Farheen Jawaid
Almost everyone noticeable in the film’s credits gets gnawed down to the bone in Piranha 3D, the loosely remade version of the 1978 original about a thousand or so spawning of prehistoric man-eating (unreal) fish let loose on oblivious, barely clothed, holidaying teenagers and younglings lost with and without adult supervision.
As if ticking off the checklist the noticeable ones start with Richard Dreyfuss. Fishing. Alone (yes, he’s done for). The director Alexandre Aja (Mirrors, The Hills Have Eyes) then moves on displaying terror (if not death), in non-chronological order, with Ving Rhames, Dina Meyer, Adam Scott, Jerry O’ Connell, Riley Steele and Kelly Brook.
The last three are a part of a pornographic troop vying to shoot a ‘Wild’ one, in and out of water, on a secluded spot and they rope in the awkward teen lead Steven R. McQueen (playing Jake) as the local guide along with Jessica Szohr, the girl next door he knows from school whom he has a crush on.
Elizabeth Shue is the obligatory county sheriff, who grounds Jake on a babysitting job (over Brooklyn Proulx and Sage Ryan), which a $60 bribe gets him out of (kids are too pricy to bribe these days).
Mr. Aja often succeeds, though not fully sometimes, in putting the tongue firmly in cheek as well as ample nudity. He also doesn’t succumb to easy in-your-face 3D practice. He does use it once on Mr. Rhames as he pulls out a speed-boats running rotor and hatchets spawns of fish right out of the water.
There is a worthwhile shot as Mr. Aja throws an anchor over the audience, but that’s as far as he goes to over-exploit the medium. Most of the 3D here is subdued. For example, in the beginning, when Mr. Dreyfuss – aptly named Matt, as a homage to the character he played in Jaws – feels a tremor that opens up a mini computer generated whirlpool whose 3D effect adds a propellant beat to the film.
Using the momentum and the over-exposure genetically inherited by the 3D medium, Mr. Aja plays up its advantage by adding a freethinking amount of stock footage of sweaty boat-bouncing teens in skimpy bikinis.
A.O. Scott of the New York Times has a take on the film’s 3D. He writes that “A third dimension turns the kind of bouncing, kinetic naughtiness most commonly encountered on the laptop screen into something much larger and rounder. Hungry fish and shredded limbs do not really benefit from the same kind of amplification”.
Indeed they do not. For the fish in Piranha are about as real as the ones who almost bite the hand off of Rain in Speed Racer and they show up with almost the same character traits (they’re fish for crying out loud, they don’t have characters, I think). For fans of the older Piranha movies (if there are any), the Piranha vision also gets updated. Now it is murky, out-of-focus and shiny.
Just like Jerry O’Connell, whose modern age pornographer is a unspoiled mix of cheap and vulgar. In one scene Mr. O’ Connell tries to find “boat word” for insubordination. “Mutiny!” he bawls as soon as it hits him, all drunk and half-anxious. In another he has his lower body and his man-hood eaten by the blasted fish.
The climax is when Mr. Aja finally looses it. He starts filming the climatic fish attack as a b-movie carnage that slips the movie, almost immediately, from almost creepy horror (the effect never happened to begin with) to a campy gore-fest. But I guess that comes with the territory.
As regular practice goes Mr. Aja does dip the camera in half-water as he creeps towards bare legs and open torsos. One unsuspecting teenager gets her behind chewed off. I don’t know if that was funny, sad or just downright scary.
Written by Peter Gold Finger and Josh Stolberg. Produced by Mark Canton, Marc Toberoff, Mr. Aja and Gregory Levasseur.
Released by Dimension Films, Piranha 3D is rated R. It is filled with nudity, bi-sexuality, sleaze, campy gore and bloody sub-aqua death.
The published version can be found at: