What are actors the caliber of Richard Dreyfuss and Elisabeth Shue doing in the new film “Piranha 3D”? Having fun, I suppose. Let’s face it, dumbing down to an audience that makes blockbusters out of blood fests can be good for one’s career — and pocketbook.
From the opening scene, which is pure genius, you know you’re in for one hell of a ride. An elderly man (Dreyfuss) is fishing by himself on a secluded lake singing “Show Me the Way to Go Home.” His name is Matt Hooper and, yes, it’s the same name of the guy who sang the same song in “Jaws.” It’s an homage to Steven Spielberg’s classic as well as to “Final Destination,” because Hooper finally becomes the fish food he was meant to be.
The action takes place in and on Lake Victoria, Ariz., where Julie Forester (Shue) is sheriff. It’s spring break, and madness takes on a new meaning when an underwater seismic event unleashes thousands of prehistoric, man-eating piranhas. With an abundance of young flesh available, the fish indulge in a feeding frenzy sure to please the scores of gore whores who crave gobs of on-screen mutilation.
Campy, gratuitous and exploitative, “Piranha 3D” gives its audience what it wants. Director Alexandre Aja (“The Hills Have Eyes”) employs some sensational and sizzling special effects. An underwater sequence of two naked girls swimming to “The Flower Duet” from “Lakmé” is surprisingly beautiful to watch. This single respite from the impending horror is an indication that Aja is quite an adroit artist.
If carnage, nudity, severed limbs and solid acting is the “entertainment” you crave, then “Piranha 3D” is just the ticket. I do have a major confession, though: I had never watched a film in 3D. And, frankly, I was literally on the edge of my seat throughout the experience.
— Pam Nadon
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