Friday, 18 February 2011

Blu-Ray Review: Piranha (2010)


Directed By Alexandre Aja

Starring Elisabeth Shue, Ving Rhames, Steven R McQueen, Jerry O’Connell, Jessica Szohr, Kelly Brook

An earthquake disturbs prehistoric Piranha and they proceed to eat a load of people on Spring Break. That’s pretty much the entire plot.


The film makers never pretended that the movie was going to be anything other than boobs and blood. They didn’t disappoint. So, I have no excuse for not knowing what this movie was going to be like. I’m a big fan of Aja's Haute Tension, and his remake of The Hills Have Eyes. These were reasons to investigate. The other reason was Kelly Brook. Well, sort of. Actually, her being in it and being stark naked was a bonus. I fell in love with Elisabeth Shue in Cocktail; a movie underrated and mistaken as just a “Tom Cruise vehicle”. That was unfair as the cast and story were very good. So, another actress that I had a crush on helped me choose this movie. Also, there’s a quality cameo from Richard Dreyfuss (seemingly playing a version of his character Matt Hooper in Jaws) and a slightly longer appearance from Christopher Lloyd playing a similar role from his past. I’m surprised he wasn’t called “Mr Brown”. Ving Rhames is always good value and here he is, picking up his cheque once again. Yes, Mr Rhames I remember Day of the Dead. Dina Meyer is in it, allegedly. She’s supposed to play one of the two seismologists who are accompanied by the Sheriff out towards the reef. I never knew that was her until after. She’s another actress I’ve enjoyed watching in Starship Troopers, and the TV show Point Pleasant.

Ving Rhames doing what he does best
So with an interesting cast, what else is there? Loads of boobs. Well quite a few. If you don’t like the exploitation of nubile women this is a movie to be avoided, but that should be obvious. But that’s not the draw. There are a lot of gory effects. This movie isn’t scary, there’s little in the way of tension but the movie is a fun watch. If you happen to find a scene in Alligator funny; you know, the one where someone’s helping a guy get on to a boat only to find that he’s legs have been bitten off at the knee, then you’ll get a kick out of this movie. Strangely, though, the aftermath of the major Piranha attack comes across a little like Omaha beach in Saving Private Ryan. I doubt this was intentional but I found it less funny than the rest of the movie. The laugh out loud moments include some great scenes with Jerry O’Connell. O’Connell astounds me. I know that he can act but he tends to get roles that make the audience know he’s acting like he’s got a neon-lit sign above his head saying “I’m an actor!”. In this movie we can easily forgive that, as he goes for the “money-shot” and sniffs coke up his nose at regular intervals. Seeing his demise is a mix of “yuck” and humour;” They took my penis”.

 Eli Roth on his downtime between projects

 So, there feels like there’s a lot of nudity but I’m not sure there really was. There’s a few shots of topless flashing but not a vast amount. Eli Roth manages to bag a role that most young actors would want - the ability to hose down girls in T-shirts but without the stigma of being in a Girls Gone Wild video. 
The scene that is bizarre is the one where Danni (Kelly Brook) and Crystal (Riley Steele) take a swim underwater, nude; like a couple of mermaids. They make out a bit, with classical music score accompanying the scene. Because the effect of them swimming in the sea is not that realistic the scene has a dream-like quality to it. There’s almost an arthouse vibe about it. So much so that it wasn't really sexy. I looked down at my crotch and said “This is what we’ve dreamed about since she hit the lads mag circuit in the mid to late nineties; a nude Kelly Brook in a movie!”. Nope. Nothing. Maybe, I’ve changed my status, I thought, but no I still like women very much and have no problems...ahem...downstairs. 

 Kelly and Riley filming a movie within a movie

Not sexy?

The trouble with this scene is that it stops the movie. Remember the scene in Total Recall when Arnie is wearing the big woman suit and the movie stops to look at it malfunction? Well, this scene is like this. The fillmakers are almost crying out “Look we got Kelly Brook to take all her clothes off for the camera”. Also, she’s terribly mis-cast. She’s supposed to be a “porn” actress with little worries about the morality of the whole thing but she comes across as being really nice. An example is the scene she plays with the excellent young actress Brooklynn Proulx. It’s almost sweet. Kelly is a strikingly beautiful woman in a girl next door that you really wish was next door kind of way but she doesn’t do sleazy very well, however hard she might try.  As was pointed out to me, Kelly's not the greatest of actresses but Dame Judi Denceh wouldn't quite cut it in the role. Who would have been better in the role? Whilst she's not prettier, or a better actress, but just better for the tone of the movie; Gianna Michaels who was “parasailing girl”. Man, she does sleazy like no other. Maybe because she does porn for a living? The irony is that Jerry O’Connell shoots little in the way of actual porn. As if the fillmakers were going for an R in the same way Fox makes Alien movies and ensures they get a Pg-13.
Gianna Michaels with clothes on :O

In the original Piranha, there was a story similar to Jaws about how the heroes try and close the beaches only to be told that it would be bad for business. The remake has no such complexity of plotting. Ving Rhames gets this across in one line, negating the need for a mayor character.
The look of the Piranhas was well thought out and fitting to the over the top nature of the movie. Sorry, I didn't mention that Piranhas were in the film? Must have got side tracked.

 There are Piranha in this movie apparently

I watched the movie in 2D and that worked fine for me. Some of the CGI is a bit grating and some of the more elaborate make-up effects, whilst pretty good, are shown up on Blu-Ray; Jerry O'Connell on the boat for example. You'll know what I mean if you watch it. Go in watching it knowing what it is, you might enjoy it. Otherwise, stay well away!

So, just in case the point was a little vague, reasons to watch the movie;
That's really not very nice

 But she is...

...and Elisabeth still has it! 

 Richard Dreyfuss still has it! But not in the way Ms Shue has.

 And so has Mr Lloyd

8/10 for sheer audacity
2/10 for overall quality

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