I know what you're thinking. This guy is giving a movie with man-eating fish as its main characters a 4 out of 5 star rating, and therefore must be an idiot and/or he doesn't know what he is talking about?
Well you're wrong, because this film is so GD entertaining it might just be the most fun you'll have at the movies all year. Eli Roth (Inglorious Basterds), who plays a Wet T-Shirt Contest MC in the film, described it perfectly, saying, "It's an orgasm. That movie knows what it is and completely embraces it and it's really, really fun." I couldn't have said it better myself, hence why I used the quote. Sure there are better movies out there with actual story arcs and properly developed characters that may take home a few awards this year, but if you don't mind shelling out the extra 3-4 dollars for the 3D experience, this movie will entertain you from start to finish, leaving you with no regrets.
Like any good horror film, it's important to keep the story as simple as possible so we can go straight into the mayhem. So, with a running time of 74 minutes, Piranha makes the most of its time by getting introductions out of the way early in the very first scene. A small underwater earthquake in the usually quite little town of Lake Victoria, Arizona opens up a hidden cavern under the lake that allows thousands of prehistoric blood-thirsty piranhas to make their way to the surface. If that wasn't a big enough problem, it also happens to be Spring Break, so the lake is full of douchebag dudes and bikini-clad babes. Saying there's blood in the water in this movie would qualify for understatement of the year.
This movie may not have a blockbuster cast, but it still manages to attach some names people know, and everybody onscreen delivers. Richard Dreyfuss has a small part in this one and it's hard not to think of him in Jaws when you see him on the water. Christopher Lloyd acts pretty much like his Doc Brown character from Back to the Future, bringing the same amount of intensity to the town's resident fish expert. I was expecting him to yell out "Great Scott!" when he saw one of the piranhas for the first time, but alas, my hopes were sadly dashed.
Elisabeth Shue and Ving Rhames, being part of the town's law enforcement, round out the cast, but even their star power was overshadowed by an over-the-top Jerry O'Connell. O'Connell basically plays a Joe Francis from Girls Gone Wild (or Wild Wild Girls as they call it in the movie) type character who commissions a boat to take full advantage of the Spring Break weekend. When I say O'Connell is over the top, I mean it in the best way possible because he fully embraces the complete douchebag that is Joe Francis and takes it to a whole new level.
Now the best part of this movie may sound like O'Connell or the plethora of bikini-clad babes, but the real stars of the show are those computer-generated, blood-thirsty piranhas. Let's be honest, horror movies have been done to death (pun intended) over the years, so not too much is surprising or shocking. However, this film presents dozens of new and inventive deaths like this, that it puts the Saw series to shame. To tell you just one of those deaths would ruin it the experience, so go in fresh and keep your eyes open.
Filmed in 2D originally, Piranha is said to be the first film that planned on converting itself to 3D before release rather than being just an afterthought. Since 3D cameras are still new to the industry, it was just cheaper using regular 2D cameras under or around water and changing the effects in post-production. The 3D experience definitely pales in comparison to James Cameron's Avatar, but it is the first film to successfully combine dismembered limbs and boobs into 3D awesomeness.
Although Piranha has only been out for a week, a sequel is already in the works. It's not shocking, considering that this film is a pseudo-remake of the 1978 film of the same name, and that film had a number of terrible sequels. So, why not do the same thing here? One can only hope that when they remake Piranha II: The Spawning, that they bring back its original director, Mr. James Cameron. That's right, the same James Cameron I mentioned earlier. Yes... the guy who did Avatar. You can't make that sh*t up.
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.