Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Boobs and Blood in 3-D: God Bless America

Chris had a great post last summer discussing the merits, or lack thereof, in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. My personal favorite passage is this:

"What baffles me about people who defend Transformers is how they can forgive the extremely long stretches where there are no robots, fighting, or explosions. Because in the middle of all this is a filmmaker's need to make it something more than it is, which tips Michael Bay's hand that this movie is not as people are defending it."

Well I like to think Alexandre Aja read this or at least had the same thought while watching Bay's ridiculous giant robot thingamajigee because Aja's Piranha 3-D does not have any of these problems. This movie is 85 minutes of mean ass prehistoric fish eating everything in sight, and considering the movie's setting is Spring Break on a lake in Arizona there is more than enough food on the platter.

This isn't so much a review because to be honest I have no idea how to say that I liked this or didn't. Piranha is a movie that just is what it is. If you are in the mood for a female hangliding on a lake topless and after she goes in the water she comes up with half of her body missing then you'll be more than satisfied. If you're not in the mood for that, I guess go watch The Switch.

But the fact that a movie like this exists in a film era of so much self awareness and pretenious blandness is a revelation of sorts. I'm not saying that there aren't great movies made when one actually tries to do just that (Toy Story 3 and Inception are great recent examples of big budget studio films that work on just about every level), but to see something so effortless and fun with an expert touch is wildly fufilling.

The film also questions the negative mind of the movie geek that holds junk like Transformers 2 and GI-Joe so dearly. The idea that stuffy old critics just don't know how to have fun at the movies is thrown out the window when you see that Piranha has an 81% approval rating from the nation's critics on rotten tomatoes. Here's a movie that has no pretensions about it. For instance, Elisabeth Shue and Adam Scott don't decide to go investigate the origins of the prehistoric piranha by jetting off to Egypt to get clues off of pyramids. In fact, the only exposition we get is about a minute's worth with an underused Christopher Lloyd who just happens to be nearby and has a fossil of the species. That scene is B-Movie gold.

Sure, the movie spends a good thirty minutes with a little bit of set-up. They even throw in the typical Weinstein requested pointless death scene in the middle of everything so you don't have to go too long without some blood and guts. Think Henry Winkler's misplaced death in Scream but with cliff-diving and piranhas.

But then the movie gets to it's final thirty minutes. It's the big Spring Break Wet T-Shirt contest (Hosted by none other than the sleaziest of the sleaziest, Eli Roth) with about three hundred horny people all over the water. It's a smorgasbord of epic proportions that Aja makes brutal use of. What I found more interesting about this sequence than the piranha swimming around having some snacks, was Aja's incorporation of the stupidity of people when exposed to pure chaos. There's one sequence where a guy just jumps in a boat and heads to shore mowing down anyone in his way. It's bizarre and kind of beautiful all at the same time.

We also have Jerry O'Connell playing essentially Joe Francis of Girls Gone Wild fame (Interesting side note: Francis is threatning to sue Dimension films because the movie makes him out to be too sleazy. Really?) and his lovely beauties (Porn star, Riley Steele, and the ungodly beautiful, Kelly Brook) on another part of the lake with the Sheriff's (Shue) son (Steven R. McQueen) for yet another gory set-piece.

There's a lot of nudity, a lot of blood, and a lot of piranhas. Like I said, the movie is what it is and it has so much fun being just that it's hard not to kind of love it. Once again, don't know that I could actually call this a good movie, but it's as entertaining as it needs to be if not more. And even the parts that don't work (like the 3-D for instance) kind of make it all the more endearing. I will say this; Piranha 3-D is the Godfather of 3-D piranha movies. And sometimes isn't that enough?


At 8/25/2010 09:20:00 AM, Blogger Mike said...

Yes, sometimes that is enough.

At 8/25/2010 08:00:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

I think I'm ok with calling a movie like this "good" if we enjoy it. This isn't The Room, where everyone involved thought they were making a serious movie, but the results turned into the unintentionally hilarious spectacle it has become.

In this case, Aja definitely knew what he was making, and his intent basically gets executed. It's just too bad no one is coming to see it, because it really delivers what average joes like, and is very brisk in doing so. Good non-review, and thanks for the shout-out.

At 8/25/2010 09:30:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

I don't have an issue with calling it a good movie so much; don't really know what I meant there. It's a lot of fun; I'm glad I actually saw it in the theater because despite that bad 3D (which like I said kind of makes it more fun) it's the environment to see it in.

And it is too bad not too many people are coming to see it. It won't be a total loss with a budget of only 25 million; should make it's money back and only profit after that on DVD. However, this is the type of movie I would assume the horror blogger field has been clamoring for. They are so sick of the PG-13 dilluted nonsense and then here's the film you wanted to see and you don't go. But that's another post all together.


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