Review: Piranha 3DDon February 5, 2013 at 2:59 pm
John Gulager, 2012
Optimism can be a real bear sometimes. After enjoying The Ward, I went trawling on IMDB for anything else of note starring Danielle Panabaker, with the options boiling down to either re-watching the surprisingly good remake of The Crazies (the “that’s where I know her from” film of the day) or giving this direct-to-DVD sequel a try. “Hey, this might be a bit of a laugh. The first one was a riot, if it’s even a fraction as good as that it won’t be a total loss”, I figured.
It’s not a fraction as good. I’m not even sure it knows what “good” is, other than breasts and rubber fish being somehow involved, and even then it fumbles it.
After laying waste to spring break at Lake Victoria, our snappy pals migrate to the vicinty of Big Wet, a lowest common denominator theme park with a near-lethal addiction to obvious puns. Anticipating the oncoming carnage, designated heroine Maddy (Panabaker) tries to do her best to avert disaster as the water park’s grand re-opening approaches. You can imagine how well that goes.
It’s not the easiest sell to the unconverted, but there’s good trash, great trash and plain old, well, trash. Good trash knows its audience, gives them what they want, and everyone leaves happy, a la Machete or the better Corman films. Great trash transcends itself with such an onslaught of sheer what-the-fuckery it almost becomes its own artform, as seen in Planet Terror, Piranha 3D and of course poster child Crank 2: High Voltage. This is the other kind, just throwing a few shocks and some nudity in and hoping somehow some of it sticks. It’s sub-Troma stuff with a few more fivers in its pocket.
Far and away the best scene comes from Ving Rhames as a newly aquaphobic, legless survivor of the Lake Victoria massacre attempting to come to terms with his fear. Elsewhere it’s livened up by a returning cameo from Christopher Lloyd and one of two laughs from the Hoff in an extended joke that outstays its welcome long before the filmmakers are done with it. Even the better parts frequently suffer from lines so bad they feel like placeholders in a first draft. There’s cheesy and then there’s just not even trying.
As far as everything else is concerned, it starts off reasonably well until it quickly becomes apparent how tone-deaf and half-hearted all of it is, with the few designated “shocking moments” coming off badly judged and bizarrely mean-spirited in a film otherwise content to throw rubber fish around while bobbing a few prosthetics in the water. The kind of thing that ends with (SPOILER:) blowing a kid’s head off then having the body bleed out over the closing credits to give the impression you’ve just watched something crazy when it’s really been very weak sauce with a particularly nasty aftertaste.
Piranha 3DD is not the worst film you’ll ever see. I’m not sure it’s the worst thing I’ve seen this week. That doesn’t let it off the hook as anything other than a terrible waste of time, money and effort from all involved. There’s little worse than a killer fish film that doesn’t know its plaice. Except maybe that last sentence.