Piranha 3DD

So, all the way back in 2010, a little movie called Piranha 3D came out and was actually fairly enjoyable. It was a B-movie that had no ambitions apart from being a fun, self-aware horror-comedy. It was a cheap movie and probably should have gone straight to home video, but its distributor was happy enough with it to give it a wide release. On a budget of only $24 million, it ended up making over triple that worldwide and was a success both financially and with it reception. That is why we have a sequel, appropriately titled Piranha 3DD.

Although it’s taken us a long time to get the sequel. It was originally scheduled for release in November of 2011, then pushed back seemingly every month until it has finally gotten its release. Unfortunately, if you actually want to go to the theater to see it, you’re probably going to be out of luck, as it’s opening with a very limited release (under 100 theaters in the United States). You’re probably going to have to see it on VOD in the comfort of your own home. That’s not necessarily a bad approach — it’s probably what the first film should have done — but is disappointing for the fans of Piranha 3D who want to see its successor on the big screen.

If you have seen the trailer, you probably have no reason to see the whole film. It gives away the plot up to approximately the 60 minute mark, and considering Piranha 3DD barely reaches 70 minutes before the credits begin, you’re not really paying for much. The plot: The piranha from the first film are still good and alive, and will eventually find their way into the local water park, which has been turned into a much more adult focused place — strippers replace lifeguards, clothing is optional, and so on — by its corrupt 51% owner, Chet (David Koechner).

The 49% owner, Maddy (Danielle Panabaker), also happens to be Chet’s stepdaughter, although their relationship is rocky at best. She’s not happy with the current situation, but can’t do anything due to technically being the minority owner. Piranha attacks happen at intermittent times, killing off unnamed characters and secondary cast members, eventually leading up to the aforementioned attack on the water park.

That’s revealing what happens for the first hour of the film, which is as much as the trailer tells you. Would you expect something else, though? If you hadn’t seen the trailer, and only got told of the film’s opening scenes where Maddy returns to the water park and piranha still exist, would you expect that the water park will remain unaffected? Of course not. That’s why the trailer can be so liberal with its divulgence, and why I don’t mind telling you what’s going on if you haven’t seen the trailer.

I can’t think of a reason to watch this movie considering its length and how much the trailer gives away. Some of the best scenes in the film are included in the red-band trailer, as are many of the best reveals. For instance, David Hasselhoff plays the “celebrity lifeguard” of the water park’s opening day, and gets many of the few laughs the film generates. Chrisopher Lloyd and Ving Rhames essentially get extended cameos, and apart from the piranha are the only important tie the film has to its predecessor.

All of the reveals wouldn’t matter too much if the film was good, but it simply isn’t. It’s not terrible, but it’s far more mediocre than this kind of affair should be. There’s no you-gotta-see-this scene, which is something it definitely needed. It’s not funny enough to keep you laughing often, and the gore is tame by today’s standards. Even the adult content is tame compared to Piranha 3D. A sequel like this needs to take the “bigger is better” approach, but it’s modest in comparison.

Oh, and it’s all in 3D, this time with the entire film shot with 3D cameras. Does the 3D make a difference? Not at all. There are, once again, a few scenes in which something leaps out at you, but for the most part, it’s not noticeable. It looks fine, I guess, but there’s no reason for it to be in 3D apart from making you pay more money for your tickets. (I have no idea if the VOD service near you will charge more for 3D or not, or if it will even offer the film in 3D, which kind of defeats the purpose of filming in 3D in the first place, doesn’t it?)

Really, the only part of the film I enjoyed was David Hasselhoff’s self-parody turn, in large part because that’s the direction that the entire film should have taken. Piranha 3D did that, to an extent, but much of this film is actually played surprisingly straight. It speaks to director John Gulager — whose previous film efforts include the Feast trilogy (two of which went direct-to-DVD) and nothing more before this — inability to understand what made the first film a success.

Piranha 3DD is a mediocre movie. It’s not good enough to be enjoyed, and it’s not bad enough to have a good time laughing at its efforts. It’s just there, eating away money and your time. Just go watch the red-band trailer, as it gives away pretty much the entire movie anyway — and only keeps the “good” parts, as trailers are inclined to do — and save yourself the money. There’s nothing here that warrants a watch.

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