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My own review of the film. This is the second D-Panabaker.Org original review, it’s spoiler-less and only teases a little for those who haven’t seen it yet. Hope you like it!
A follow-up to a surprisingly successful film, Piranha 3DD (that’s Double D) starts as a faithful sequel to the massacre we got to experience in the 2010 Alexandre Aja-directed Piranha. This time around the movie takes place in a water park located not so far from Lake Victoria, the place where the piranhas killed a massive amount of tourists and locals during their diabolic awakening. After a brief and rather forgettable cameo appearance by Gary Busey, we are introduced to the lead of the film, Maddy (played by Danielle Panabaker) who´s come back home for the summer only to find out her step father Chet (David Koechner) has now turned the dear family-themed water park that she co-owns into an adult-oriented mess, filled with “water-certified strippers”! Unfortunately for Maddy, boobs aren’t the only problem, as the hungry piranhas are back and they have managed to travel all the way down to the lake where Chet is, illegally, getting his water supplies from. Oops!
Even though this is a sequel, hardly anyone from the first film came on board to work on the second part. The director chair was occupied by John Gulager this time, with Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan as the writers. If their names sound familiar you have probably seen Feast and/or its two sequels. I have not, so I’ll judge them based on their Piranha 3DD work alone. Besides Danielle Panabaker and David Koechner the film stars a bunch of relatively-known TV stars including Matt Bush, Chris Zylka, Katrina Bowden and Jean-Luc Bilodeau. Christopher Lloyd, Ving Rhames and Paul Scheer come back for more fish-and-blood, and a special appearance by David Hasselhoff rounds up the most notable cast of the film.
Now, I’ll spare you the suspense of having to wait for my verdict and let you know that I found this movie to be a funny, silly, campy and enjoyable ride… in a completely different way than the first one was. Piranha 3D seemed to know what it was and intelligently played with the concept to make it a trashy film with some sense of quality to it. Piranha 3DD, on the other hand, knew what it was just as much but went another route, the ridiculously over-the-top one. We get everything from naked bodies, to severed members, to piranhas in private places, to Scary-Movie jokes, to a gun-legged Ving Rhames to The Hoff singing the “Love Hunter” theme song. It seems the creators behind Piranha 3DD knew what they had in their hands and decided to have fun with it while not making a copy-cat of the first Piranha, and it worked… for the most part.
Piranha 3DD has one major problem; it tries to be a ridiculously fun film while throwing moments of seriousness and “horror” in the middle but ends up being a messy mixture. The transitions between the two shades of the film are confusing, and very hard to notice at parts. A lot of jokes end up falling flat and some intense moments just can’t be taken seriously. Some may argue this is actually good, I personally don’t enjoy being unable to feel the moment to the maximum because I don’t know if they are being serious or not. It seems the writers were trying to add comedy to absolutely every scene in the film, it works for a lot of scenes but it definitely doesn’t for others.
Another problem is it tries to be so over-the-top that some scenes are just disgusting and not funny nor horrifying at all.
The film also lacked in the horror department. There was not a single scary scene in the whole film! However, there were a couple of tense moments (both of them involving Danielle Panabaker, for those wondering) that definitely made you forget a little about the over-used comedy. But even those moments are not enough to call this a horror film. I would go as far as calling it a straight parody.
Whoever thinks that good acting has no place in a movie like this just doesn’t know how bad can bad acting hurt a movie. Mediocre performances come from most of the actors in the film. Notable exceptions are Danielle Panabaker and funny –guys David Koechner and Matt Bush. I might be biased but Danielle did an excellent job carrying the film, she was the serious, strong character that represented the grounded side of the film and her performance was highly enjoyable. She certainly knew how to make Maddy a responsible and caring girl while also giving her some sassiness and sexiness to play with. A scene where she enters her lonely room shows her deepness, while some of her scenes during a final water park massacre show her heroic and sexy side, and then she has a couple of funny/awkward moments with her step father and her nerdy friend Barry that show a little bit of Danielle’s comedic side. If you are a fan of her, this is definitely a movie you should check out! Matt Bush was pretty funny and a very nice and un-average male lead. David Koechner does a great job with his part and the climax of his character has got to be one of the funniest and most random moments in the whole film. I love Katrina Bowden in “30 Rock” but this time around she didn’t do much to be recognized for, even though one of her scenes with Jean-Luc Bilodeau (who does a decent job as the horny virgin kid) might stick in your head for all the wrong reasons, if you’ve seen the trailer you probably know what I’m talking about. Chris Zylka has one funny scene in the whole movie. Meagan Tandy gives what I consider one of the worst performances I’ve seen in a while, and her on-screen-lover Paul James Jordan barely has a dialogue, writers should be blamed for that though. After the film is over one could wonder whether some of the acting was intentionally bad, if it was then Gulager should be blamed for a failed attempt at silliness.
Cameo-wise, the film did very well. David Hasselhoff gives away an excellent comedic performance. Though maybe overused a little, the Baywatch star definitely steals the show while on screen, his sub-plot with a “little ginger moron” is an enjoyable one. Ving Rhames has a shorter screen-time but enough to get a good laugh out of the viewer. Christopher Lloyd is great as the wacky piranha expert, Dr. Goodman. I don’t think Adrian Martinez has been given enough credit for his hilarious scenes (minus his first scene that’s way too weird and disgusting) in the movie; I won’t spoil his short appearances but watch out for Big Dave when you see it!
The cinematography of the film is excellent; it’s a beautiful film visually speaking. The water and underwater shots are gorgeous and make you want to throw yourself in the pool and have some fun with the rest of the characters. The shots used in the trailer look cheap, but the film doesn’t. Those same shots are featured in the movie with much better quality. Other than some weird continuity mistakes Piranha 3DD looks very, very good. I haven’t had the pleasure to see it in 3D, but I intend to, for the looks of it I’m sure it looks great!
The soundtrack is another strong point; most of the songs used in Piranha 3DD are highly enjoyable and really fitting to the moment. The Limousines, All The Right Moves and Amber Pacific are some notable mentions. The score, composed by Elia Cimral, is also a very neat one, very different from the one composed for the 2010 movie, but very fitting on its own.
The deaths in the film are scarce and not very original. They had a water park full of bathers to have fun with and get creative, and a bunch of pretty people in the cast who could have suffered an outrageous demise, but that was simply not the case. I do applaud, however, the fact that they stayed away from the cliché of killing every character in the film. Some people that you would expect to be goners make it out alive, and others who you might expect to be survivors get ferociously eaten. And I’m talking about current horror movie standards, not just the “good girl gets killed” thing that has now become a cliché as well.
The climax isn’t nearly as gory as the one in the first film, which probably means fans of gore won’t be as delighted with the final massacre. But taking gore out, it is also poorly executed. You keep expecting it to start happening and then… wait, it’s already started and you didn’t even notice! And a few minutes later it’s over, when you still expect it to keep happening… not good. But the funniest cameos take place during it or around it, and a tense scene involving Danielle’s character as well, so it isn’t so bad after all.
The finale is original, much more original that I would have expected, and also ridiculous, just like the whole film. I’m also glad the director and writers had the balls to execute a final death which involves a person you wouldn’t expect to die.
In short, Piranha 3DD has a lot of cons, but it seems critics are bashing it more for not being the desired sequel to Piranha 3D, rather than judging it on its own merit. The makers were never trying to make another Piranha 3D, and that is obvious. They were fully invested in making a fun, over-the-top and unexpectedly-beautiful film, without necessarily taking the same spin the first film took. If judged as a stand-alone flick, Piranha 3DD has a lot of qualities that make it more than decent, and definitely entertaining pop corn, watch-it-with-your-friends-while-getting-drunk film that will make you laugh, get confused, get disgusted, and then laugh again! If you’re expecting another Piranha 3D you will be disappointed, if you’re expecting what you should be expecting with a title like Piranha 3DD then go ahead and enjoy the wild ride!
Fredy F., Webmaster
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