Director: Alexandre Aja Notable Cast: Elisabeth Shue, Ving Rhames, Adam Scott, Jerry O’Connell, Richard Dreyfuss, Christopher LLoyd, Eli Roth, Steven R. McQueen, Kelly Brook, Jessica Szohr Rating: R* Emphasis on the R rating….
Review: The term “Popcorn Movie” refers to the idea that a filmmaker will create a movie with no intention of it being taking seriously for dramatic reasons and instead will craft a movie meant just to be watched for entertainment value. It’s a movie where you can just shut off your mind and garner some nonsensical enjoyment that a “serious” film could never accomplish. Inception was a triumph in film making, make no doubt about that. But I can say I enjoyed Piranha 3-D just as much as I did Inception for reasons that are completely the opposite from Nolan’s masterpiece. So, with that said lets play: Which Movie Was The “Popcorn Movie?” Inception centers around the fact that certain people can hack into your dreams and try to implant ideas into your thoughts subconsciously using different levels of a dream subspace. Piranha 3-D centers around the idea that a beer bottle drops to the bottom of the ocean and causes a tremor that opens a tunnel to an enormous cavern filled with prehistoric piranhas during spring break. If you guessed Inception…stop being a smartass.
I really will say that out of all the movies that came out this summer, Piranha 3-D was the one film that totally met my expectations. Everything I could have ever wanted from a throwback horror film involving a mix of blood-thirsty piranhas and a bunch on college kids on spring break was in this film…and then some. There were limbs flying everywhere, chewed up meatheads swimming for their lives, propellers being used as weapons; I don’t think any more action could have been squeezed in if the director tried. Aja is a master of his craft and had a clear vision of what he wanted to do with this film: shock the hell out of the audience, don’t let the film fall into the trap of becoming serious, and leave us wanting more. I stress the fact that he kept the humor in the film though because my biggest problem with most horror films coming out now is they don’t know how keep reality in check. These films really think they have a shot to be a masterpiece, but ultimately end up becoming a snooze fest because of all the time wasted trying to build characters and craft meaningful drama. Need an example? Watch Legion. What you think you’re getting is a group of diners stuck in a biblical war between one rogue angel and the rest of the angels in heaven, full of fight scenes and action. What you’ll really get is a bunch of clichéd and paper-thin characters jabbering about emotions and plot points you really don’t give a shit about because they’re more boring than my pet rock. We came here to see you shoot some damn angels, not talk about how you’re a waste of life who can never pull through when it matters. It’s not my fault your such a pussy and I clearly don’t want to hear about it. Sorry, side rant. Back to Piranha. Out of the so suitably dubbed “Splat Pack” (research the reference if you’re interested), Aja has emerged as one of my favorites right along with Eli Roth. While the other directors held up a bit and have petered out on their own for now, Aja keeps cranking out enthralling horror material that has not been seen in quite some time (We’ll ignore Mirrors). And even the critics are noticing. Piranha 3-D has an impressive 74% as of now on the Tomatometer (www.rottentomatoes.com), which is almost unheard of for a movie of its type. Usually these dance around the 10%-30% zone, but when you can have a film that has a gorier beach scene than Saving Private Ryan and are able to turn an entire lake red with blood while still keeping the laughs, you really have something special.
And what about this cast? So many names here made this film worth watching. From Dreyfuss’ character being an homage to the same character he plays in Jaws, to Ving Rhames being straight badass just like every other time, to Christopher Lloyd doing his best Doc Brown impression, to Kelly Brook/Riley Steele smoking up the screen. But there were other characters in Adam Scott, Jerry O’Connell, and Elisabeth Shue that really had me impressed. I expected the performances (and eye candy) delivered out of the other names but these guys really stepped up and proved they belonged in this movie. Jerry O’Connell was a riot the entire film in probably his best performance since Kangaroo Jack (sarcasm) along with Scott who also showed his almost leading man chops. The only person that bothered me on-screen was Steven R. McQueen, who played the films real leading man and worst babysitter of all time. Out of all the performances, he’s the only one that really hammed it up and acted like he was in a cheesy 80’s movie. There were some real groans as a reaction of some of the lines he delivered. I’ll also give a shout out to Paul Scheer who played O’Connell’s camera man and was really gypped on some camera time. He’s a hilarious guy that definitely deserved a better role and a better demise.
But here it goes. Once again we paid for a 3-D ticket and once again I have to ask, why? That was my only gripe here. Yea, I get it. It adds depth to the screen. But what happened to when 3-D meant there would be limbs flying at you and piranhas jumping at your face? I want to look like a moron ducking in the theater as I think one of the boats is coming right at me from the screen. Instead 3-D is just meant to make the film look pretty and make us go “ooooohhh” and “ahhhhh.” I’m still not sold on the 3-D movement and am actually hoping it will just go away. I’m sick of paying outrageous prices for a film I would have enjoyed just was much in boring old 2-D.
But for my closing reaction, I’ll try to do one of those single word reviews like other movies do when you read “Enthralling. Breathtaking. Enchanting.” So here it goes…Piranha 3-D: Brutal. Relentless. Hilarious. Shocking. Outrageous. Titties. Alcohol. Drunkenness. Drugs. Kelly Brook. Boobies. Underwater Naked Ballet. Bloody. Doc Brown. Rhames. Insanity. Throwback. Kelly Brook. Kelly Brook. An Achievement in Film Making. Oscar.
There you have it, one of the best “Popcorn Films” I’ve seen in a long time and easily one of the most fun times I’ve ever had in the theater itself. Obviously this film is not for everyone, so I really suggest looking up the 9 minute Comi-Con clip released online if you are on the fence about this one. If you can’t handle that footage, save yourself the trip. Pussy.
Final Rating: 8 genitalia munching piranhas of 10