Piranha 3DDOverview -
Prepare for double the action, double the terror and double the D’s. The prehistoric school of bloodthirsty piranhas are back and this time, no one is safe from the flesh-eating fish as they sink their razor sharp teeth into the visitors of summer’s best attraction, The Big Wet Water Park. Starring Danielle Panabaker, Matt Bush, David Koechner, Chris Zylka, Katrina Bowden, Gary Busey, Christopher Lloyd and David Hasselhoff.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
Truth be told, the 2010 'Piranha' remake is one of my guilty pleasures. It took a genius approach to the horror-comedy genre by not winking to the audience even once. It didn't leave a pause after each hilarious incident of graphic dark comedy, but kept on moving. If you didn't pick up on it, then it flew right past you. The team behind it knew exactly what they were going for and knew how to convey it to the audience. Mind you, the audience that 'Piranha' was made for is a geeky one filled with fanboys galore – but the audience that's even smaller than that is the type of geeky fanboy audience that 'Piranha 3DD' is made for. Like the movie or not, there's no arguing the fact that French director Alexandre Aja knocked it out of the park. (Two years later, it still sits at 72 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.) It's a shame that Aja and his team were not brought back for '3DD.'
'3DD' picks up one year after the spring break incident at Lake Victoria, which is now a ghost town. Our new setting is Cross Lake in Merkin County, Arizona. The first of our generic ensemble characters that we're introduced to is Maddy (Danielle Panabaker), a moderately attractive college student who is furious when she returns home to find that her step father (David Koechner) has renovated the family's water park to include a sectioned-off nude attraction for adults only. Being a small town, Maddy's friends quickly learn of her return and become our secondary characters: one is the crooked town cop, one is a quiet nerdy guy who has obviously had a thing for Maddy for a long time, one is a gorgeous blonde virgin (Katrina Bowden) planning on losing her virginity soon and the rest are all sure piranha fodder. These are the three characters whose fates are up in the air.
A bloated explanation reveals that the Lake Victoria man-eating prehistoric fish have become confused and are seeking the source of chlorine entering the local waterways. Because it recently re-opened, the fish are quickly making their way upstream to the chlorine-filled pools and slides of the family's not-so-family-friendly water park.
The $24 million budget of 'Piranha 3D' must have been a lot higher than that of '3DD.' Throughout '3D,' there are numerous attacks prior to the climactic gory spring break literal blood bath. In '3DD,' there's a major lack of killings prior to the blood red climax that turns water park visitors into fish food. The attacks that do occur prior to the ending often happen out of the frame or in a way that shows very little - meaning they had no budget to show what they wanted to. It's painfully obvious that '3DD' was dampened by a lack of funds. The little money that they did have was saved for the finale – which, even then, still came across as restricted and brief.
Being made by the guys who gave us 'Feast,' '3DD' falls into that category beyond the geeky fanboy genre. It takes it too far, farther into the stupid zone than 'Piranha 3D' did. Instead of feeling like a movie made by an experienced professional for geeky fanboys, it feels like it was made by an overly excited and under qualified fanboy for his fellow fanboys. I'm not saying that it completely misses the mark, for there are a few moments that hit the sweet spot, but overall '3DD' is missing something in every aspect. It's missing likeable characters. It's missing original kills. It's missing the gore. It's missing a consistency. And it's missing something worth caring about.
You know how every time a Hollywood studio makes a somewhat successful movie, some horrible rip-off production company will make their own similar tale – like 'Battle: Los Angeles' and 'Battle of Los Angeles?' 'Piranha 3DD' feels like cheap knock-off of 'Piranha 3D.' It features a few surprise cameos and will still make you laugh and squirm a time or two, but '3DD' definitely does not function on the same level as 2010's 3D 'Piranha.'
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Dimension Films has paired the Blu-ray 3D with a 2D Blu-ray and a DVD copy of the film. Also included is an insert for a free Digital Copy as well. (Who would want four versions of this movie is beyond me.) Both Blu-rays are Region A BD-50s. When you insert the 3D disc, absolutely nothing plays before the main menu. When you insert the 2D disc, you must wade through unskippable Anchor Bay, Dimension and Weinstein vanity reels, as well as skippable trailers for 'Scream 4' and the 'Piranha' video game.
Aside from a few compression flaws, the 1080p/MPEG-4 MVC encode of 'Piranha 3DD' is nearly perfect – which I really didn't expect from a film of this low quality/brow. The few compression errors found throughout are banding, which can be seen during many of the murky nighttime underwater shots and fades in or out; digital noise, which appears in a few dark exterior shots; and aliasing, which is visible in tight patterns like the mesh covering on stereo speakers or close-up on skintight jean shorts.
There's a great depth to be seen thanks to movie being shot in 3D. The only times that the 3D could look better are those same murky underwater shots that create banding. Just like smoky or foggy scenes, the third dimension is completely lost in the murk. Instead of seeing through the silk, it appears as if there is a floating veil-like wall. Aside from that, the 3D look is quite impressive. A few scenes warrant water splashing on the lens. When this happens, the visual reaction of this effect is reminiscent of waking up with vision-impairing goop in your eyes. I found myself wanting to blink rapidly in order to break the non-existent goop up.
A few instances attempt to force images "off the screen." I've never been a fan of this cheap trick simply because it doesn't appear to protrude far off the screen and it's more of a distraction than an enhancement. One of these instances in specific made me notice how great the detailing was on this disc. One character's projectile vomit is blasted at you to make you feel as if it's going to land in your lap. I don't applaud this gimmick; however, I will praise those responsible for making this movie for being able to retain all of the chunky and slimy detail of the vomit as it is spewed forth. There's not a single scene that leaves you yearning for more detail. I not only credit the cameras for making it look good, but the lighting and brightness of the image. Even during nighttime shots, the locations are so brightly lit that nothing is lost within them – not the details and not the third dimension.
If only the movie itself could match the quality of the 3D Blu-ray.
Up until the climactic water park attack, this 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is pretty bland. I credit a large portion of this weakness due to the fact that there's almost no tense attack scenes prior to it, so there's not much of a reason to have it be lively and noteworthy until the end. The music that plays throughout (which sounds a lot like the generic scoring to a cheap porno) fills the channels, but doesn't carry the dynamics that, say, a big studio flick would.
When we get to the grand finale, from screams and chomps to splashing and gargling, the audio really kicks it up a notch. Instead of being a spectator watching the horror unraveling before you (like the Life Guard of all Life Guards in the movie), you are placed inside the action, watching and listening to the sights and sounds of a massacre happening in all 360 degrees around you. The only thing lacking from the climax's sound is the imaging. There wasn't a single instance of imaging that caught my attention while reviewing this disc.
- Feature Commentary by Director John Gulager, Producer Soisson & Co-writer Marcos Dunstan - I had to chuckle through this commentary because this trio is pretty self-deprecating. They know that nobody saw this movie and they know that nobody knows who they are – and they constantly mention it without shame or remorse. Despite featuring lots of pauses and dead space, when they actually speak, it's not a half-bad commentary. They relate anecdotes from the shoot (many of which stem from their foibles about shooting in 3D and their almost non-existent budget), talk about their inspirations for this sequel (can you say 'Jaws 3?') and repeatedly admit to being fanboy techie movie geeks.
- Deleted Scenes (SD, 3 min.) - For some reason, all three deleted scenes revolve around one trertiary character – some frizzy-haired stoner that doesn't warrant a single laugh (especially in these scenes). One scene shows him taking rips off a bong, another shows him humping a jet in the lazy river and the final scene is an unnoticeably extended version of a scene that's in the final cut.
- The Story Behind 'DD' (HD, 8 min.) - This generic seemingly promotional featurette talks about how new and fresh the majority of the cast is, then quickly focuses only on the actors who make cameos within it. I'd typically feel bad for spoiling this list of cameos, but every single one of them appears in the trailer (because there's nothing else to fill a trailer for '3DD' with): David Hasselhoff, Gary Busey, Ving Rhames, Paul Sheer, Christopher Lloyd and David Koechner.
- The Hofftastic World of David Hasselhoff (SD, 2 min.) - Most of this footage is recycled from the last featurette. See The Hoff being a weirdo.
- Busey's Bloopers (SD, 2 min.) - Did I say that The Hoff was a wierdo? I take that back. He's nothing compared to what you see Gary Busey do here. Most of this featurette shows him incoherently rambling, much of which is completely unintelligible.
- Wet and Wild with David Koechner (SD, 2 min.) - This featurette should be title "On-Set Silliness with David Koechner." Some of what ensues is funny, most of it is not – which is really sad because I did the radio with Koechner one morning last year and he was absolutely hilarious – but we should have expected unfunniness because he's not given much funny content within the movie itself.
- 'A Lesson with John McEnroe:' A Dimension Short Film (1080i, 4 min.) - If I was an executive at Dimension, I would not have slapped my studio's name in the subtitle of this feature. John McEnroe is a funny guy, but this tennis-based short film is a disaster. If I had to rate this short film on its own, it would give a solid zero star rating.
If you enjoyed the hell out of 2010's 'Piranha' remake, if you thought that it was intelligent while pulling off the most absurd content you'd ever seen, then do not watch 'Piranha 3DD.' Everything that 'Piranha' got right in 2010, '3DD' gets wrong now. It's stripped of wit, charm, satire, social commentary and dignity. The one thing that '3DD' gets right is the transfer to Blu-ray 3D. Had it not been for a few pesky compression flaws, the 3D video quality would be exemplary. But the audio does not live up to the same standard that the video does. Aside from a commentary that's better than the movie, all of the special features are throw-aways. I can think of dozens of horror comedies that I'd recommend over this one. If you're dying to see fish disturbingly eat people in a comedic manner, stick with Aja's 2010 version of 'Piranha.'
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