Monday, March 21, 2011

271) Piranha (1978) and 276) Piranha 3D (2010)

271) Piranha (1978) Dir: Joe Dante Date Released: August 1978 Date Seen: August 29, 2010 Rating: 3.25/5

276) Piranha 3D (2010) Dir: Alexandre Aja Date Released: August 2010 Date Seen: September 2, 2010 Rating: 1.25/5

I really can't fathom why Aja had the urge to make a perfectly adequate cheapy knockoff of Jaws into the big wet fart that made so many of my favorite ghoulies and girlies go into conniptions last summer. Apart from its opening scene, Greg Nicotero's make-up work and Jerry O'Connell's performance, Piranha 3D is an incompetent attempt at giving the audience what Aja, a director that creatively blew his load before High Tension, his big break-out film, even ended, thinks they want: boobs and guts, dahurhur. 

Nicotero delivers that and then some but who cares? Aja's encourages us to laugh at his victims and then perfunctorily asks us to cheer them on when they struggle to survive at the film's end. If you're making a movie that doesn't vaguely resemble its predecessor, especially in the way that Dante's film cheaply tried to ensure that the piranhas attacks couldn't really be enjoyed by making them attack a beach full of kids, why do you even try to make me care about characters at all? If you want to make scat, fine, just make scat. But do it well, damn it. 

Aja should have just gone for the throat and not let up but he didn't because he sucks. Seriously, he does. Have you not seen his truly miserable Hills Have Eyes remake? The one that's a carbon copy of Wes Craven's original save for a half-assed and proudly scattological new scene that includes an American flag going places it probably shouldn't? Yeah, that film's a product of the same Alexandre Aja that fans of Piranha 3D are defending. The man does not exhibit the intelligence, let alone the invention, that his misanthropic rehash might have required of me to laugh or care for that matter. Dante's film had a modicum of craft to it: it wasn't high art, it wasn't rock 'n roll, really. It was just a competent and good workman-like product. One of the only memorably dynamic scenes in the film is one where our heroes are trapped on a raft and are surrounded by the titular menaces. Apart from that and the opening scene, which is the only overt references to Jaws in the film if I recall correctly, it's pas mal, pas grand chose. But still: this is what you make of that? Really? Feh.

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