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Friday, June 1, 2012

Movie Review: PIRANHA 3DD


"Welcome to rock bottom."
-- David Hasselhoff

Piranha 3DD is a 2012 horror-comedy directed by John Gulager that serves as a sequel to the 2010 film, Piranha 3D. The film opens with a news story telling us that the Lake Victoria massacre has left the town abandoned, and the reporter questions whether another such incident could possibly happen again. Fast forward one year, and we're now in the confines of a small Arizona town, where Chet (David Koechner) is preparing to re-open his late wife's water park as a not-so-family-friendly play-place, much to the chagrin of his step-daughter Maddy (Danielle Panabaker). After a close friend goes missing, Maddy discovers that the now-infamous piranha have migrated to the lake just outside the water park. Fearing for a spree similar to the spring break massacre, Maddy, her friend Barry (Matt Bush) and deputy Kyle (Chris Zylka) make their way to Lake Victoria to seek the aid of Carl Goodman (Christopher Lloyd). What they learn from him incites a new level of terror, and Maddy rushes back to the water park to plead with Chet to postpone the grand re-opening.

As I've said on so many different occasions, I couldn't begin to express my excitement for this sequel to the smash 2010 hit. I became an instant fan of Piranha 3D, and after I heard that a sequel had been greenlit, I waited (im)patiently for its ultimate release. There were to be a lot of changes: Alexandre Aja would not be returning to direct, and we were losing the basic setting of Lake Victoria. At the same time, we would see some familiar faces with returns from Lloyd, Ving Rhames and Paul Scheer. And, ultimately, we were going to have piranhas wreaking havoc. What's not to like, right? It took nearly two years, but I finally had the opportunity to sit down and watch Piranha 3DD.

What I'm about to say is a little bit discouraging: I don't know how I feel about the film. On the one hand, I thought that there was enough to make this an entertaining film, but at the same time, I honestly think that I've been gypped of so many months of waiting for something that's even a shell of what it predecessor achieved. Sadly, that can't necessarily be said about Piranha 3DD.

While the first film didn't necessarily have a plot, there was still a series of events that the audience was able to follow. This time around, however, nothing truly seems to be interconnected. We have one scene where something happens, then another where something else happens, then another and another. And yet, there's no flow to the narrative. It's simply one attack to another, with a little bit of exposition here and there. But there's nothing really to which the audience can cling, and that's going to leave a few people dazed and bored. 

One of the other reasons that Piranha 3D proved so entertaining is that we could actually care about the characters on-screen. Sure, the film didn't offer the greatest acting, but the characters were fleshed out just enough to make them redeemable and endearing. We knew who to love and who to hate, and that worked quite well in swaying us towards cheering for or against certain characters. In Piranha 3DD, we never get that. We know who we're supposed to like and who we're supposed to hate, but we just can't muster enough energy to have those emotions towards any of the characters. Some of the cameos prove to be rather entertaining, but even those are a little bit fleeting. Still, Lloyd gets to have a little more screen-time this time around, and even David Hasselhoff manages to evoke a few chuckles here and there. And yes, Gary Busey is in this movie, but his scene is over so quickly that you'll forget about it a few minutes later.

At the end of the day, Piranha 3DD is, at best, a shell of its predecessor, and a hollow shell at that. While there are a few redeemable moments, there just isn't enough to keep the film moving along as well as it should. Perhaps Piranha 3D was meant to be a novelty success, and although I can't completely hate this new piranha-centric film, I can't say that I love it either. I'm just on the fence, and sometimes, that's the last place a film wants a viewer to be. 

Movie Review Summary
Grade: D
Should You Watch It? Maybe

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