The Review: One of the sad things about the decline of the local video store in favour of online rentals is the opportunity to browse the fine selection of B-movies (or worse) that generally clogged up the shelves at the back of the shop. A lack of money or resources never dented ambition, and watching many of these eighties and nineties classics is a guilty pleasure, just waiting for the next money shot of a dismembered limb or a cheesy action shot. So what justifies putting this kind of B-movie in cinemas these days?
There’s a few factors at work here. First of all, this is an update of the late Seventies classic Piranha, directed by Joe Dante and the sequel to which gave James Cameron his start. Then there’s the fact that it’s 3D, which automatically gets it entry to all the finest screens in the country so cinemas can make that little bit of extra money. There’s also the cast, which has a few recognisable names among it, primarily Elizabeth Shue as the sheriff of the backwater town with the biting problem and Ving Rhames as her sidekick.
There’s a raft of other cameos, including Richard Dreyfuss and Christopher Lloyd, who both get to ham it up in brief scenes. Eagle-eyed viewers will also spot Eli Roth in a small role, although he gets a higher billing than Jerry O’Connell and Kelly Brook, both of whom get more screen time in the main plot. O’Connell gets to have lascivious fun with his adult movie director role, but Brook is purely there for the eye candy, being acted off screen by two wooden children. Still, she’s very attractive and takes all of her clothes off, so that’s all right.
Because, let’s be honest, you’ll be watching this for the boobs and the gore, and there’s a fair amount of the former. On the latter, there are splashes of gore scattered throughout the first two acts, then the fish go to work and the last third of the film is a constant barrage of moderately inventive gory moments and the occasional shock. Piranha won’t win any awards for subtlety or originality, especially as most of the scares rely on the tried and tested “loud screech on the soundtrack at the same time the unexpected thing pops up” technique, but if you’re looking to recapture that feel of a cheesy Eighties B-movie with a few bigger names and don’t have high expectations, then step right in.
Why see it at the cinema: There’s a lot going on in some of the crowd scenes at the end, and the director hasn’t skimped on the detail. It’s almost like a Where’s Wally? of gore, so the big screen gives you a big advantage.
Why see it in 3D: Remember those View Master toys and their slightly odd 3D? It’s a bit like that. You get layers of 2D rather than a full 3D effect most of the time, due to the conversion. However, your ticket price will fund a sequel hopefully shot in proper 3D, with more C-list celebs being chowed down on.
The Score: 6/10