SEPTEMBER 3, 2012
Usually when I do Blu-ray or DVD reviews of movies I saw theatrically, I find my opinion has changed some. Usually I find that a movie (such as Shark Night) is nowhere near as enjoyable the 2nd time around, but every now and then I find myself warming up to a film in the comfort of my own home, such as Pandorum. Piranha 3DD, however, is an anomaly - overall, I feel exactly the same about it as I did three months ago, when I managed to be one of the very few people in the country to find it at a nearby theater.
Yes, in all their infinite wisdom, Dimension - who gave a wide release to the star-free chore Apollo 18, remember - dumped their followup to a recent hit movie on a mere 86 screens, most of them rundown or second rate places that never draw the sort of big crowds that make movies like this much more enjoyable (oddly enough, it played in the exact same screen that the original played for its press screening). And they didn't exactly promote the theatrical release, choosing to focus more attention on the film's historic debut on Facebook (the first, from what I understand), where you could "enjoy" the film's native state of the art 3D via conversion to the inferior anaglyph ("red and blue") format. Kind of ironic - the first film was a (poor) post-convert that enjoyed thousands of screens and a real presentation, and this time they shoot it right and convert it to the shit kind for most of its viewers. Someday Bob Weinstein will make a decision that makes any goddamn sense to a rational human being, and I just hope I'm still alive to see it.
Luckily, the real 3D format has been preserved for Blu-ray, so those with 3DTVs and equipped Blu-ray players (or an updated PS3) can enjoy all the boobs and blood (and fish) in all its native 3D glory. I sadly do not have such a TV as of yet, but I assume it looks as it should, given that Anchor Bay (who handles all Dimension home releases) traditionally does a fine job with their transfers. And they give you plenty of options: the set comes with a standard def DVD and a traditional (2D) blu-ray, and at a 29.99 price point (less than half that on Amazon right now) it's one of the cheapest I've seen as the 3D Blu-rays tend to run an extra 5-10 bucks WITHOUT the extra discs.
I would have traded any of those discs for an unrated cut of the film, however. Since the MPAA was so harsh on the team's Feast films, I imagine they had to have demanded a few snips here and there, and the film's brief running time (82 minutes, with TWELVE of those given to end credits) suggest there was a little more meat on this bone originally. But alas, it's the same cut that played in theaters (actually missing a shot, according to the commentary, but they don't elaborate and I have no idea what they're referring to), so if you were left disappointed (or downright hating it) there's no need to give it another shot, as like I said I don't think this one benefits (or weakens) from repeat viewings.
For those that more or less enjoyed its gratuitous nonsense (or haven't seen it, which is more likely), you know what you're in for, especially if you're familiar with the Feast films. It's less mean-spirited than those (I'd stop short of saying "commercial"), but it offers the same bad-taste smorgasbord of despicable characters and a glorious lack of restraint. Any movie where a little girl is run over by a golf cart while grieving over the body of her mother (a piranha victim) is automatically OK in my book, and there are even a few bits of genuine suspense, such as the extended sequence with Katrina Bowden trapped on a small section of a dock that has been ripped apart by the hungry, swarming fish. And it's too short to get bored with, with each act of the film amounting to barely more than a standard reel of film.
But, as I said before, they don't save enough for the big finale, which was the original film's strong point. Rather than give us little tastes before opening the floodgates when the fish attack the water park, they never hold back - by the time it comes we've already seen plenty of nudity, a man cut off his own penis (which is being bitten by a fish), another sexual encounter that results in slaughter, and Gary Busey biting the head off a fish that just entered the world thanks to the excessive flatulence of a dead cow. I mean, what the hell is left to do besides kill off a couple of the main cast (though not as many as you'd think, considering the body count of the Feasts) and let David Hasselhoff make fun of himself for another few minutes? It's also a brief attack - thanks to the time display on my player I know now that the big attack lasts less than 13 minutes, and that includes a lot of slo-mo shots of the Hoff or other characters in closeup, reacting to carnage we don't actually see right at that moment.
I also would have traded one of those discs for some better bonus features, as none of them are really worth the disc space. Hasselhoff, Busey, and David Koechner each get a 2 minute segment to themselves, a mix of their best lines, some on-set footage, and a couple of outtakes - your mileage will vary depending on your tolerance of the actor (though Busey - whose shtick stopped amusing me a long time ago - does offer up a nifty "Buseyism" for "fart"). The behind the scenes piece is also mostly a waste of time, merely stretching the film's trailer out with a few extra short clips and soundbytes from the film's junket, where everyone just says how much they like everyone else. The deleted scenes aren't very exciting, either - two of them just focus on the film's obnoxious fat stoner guy, and there's no commentary to explain why they were cut (for time? The movie's barely longer than an episode of Game of Thrones!). Finally, the most baffling thing I've seen in ages - a short film where John McEnroe plays tennis with some spoiled asshole. I haven't the slightest notion what the hell this is doing on the disc, but if you're a fan of McEnroe's legendary anger issues it's also probably the only supplement that's worth your time. I don't know how you can have a special edition about a horror movie and not have a single bit of information on how the FX were done, but yet, here we are.
Then there's the commentary by John Gulager and co-writers Marcus Dunstan and Joel Soisson (3rd writer Patrick Melton is absent; they say he's delivering a speech on fish, having become an expert after all the research they did for this movie). For starters, it's either recorded poorly or just not balanced right, as I had to turn up my level to nearly 60 to hear it clearly (my usual range is 40-45), so that was annoying. But it's also not very spirited; their Feast tracks are a blast but they're seemingly being watched or something here, offering up little dirt and barely even busting each others' balls like usual. As mentioned earlier, there's apparently a missing shot in a scene, but they don't explain what it is or why it was cut, and there's not a lot of actual info on any topic, really. Strip away the praise heaped on every actor and makeup man Gary Tunnicliffe, and you're left with something that's about as in depth as one of those pop up trivia tracks.
But if you dig the movie, or think you will, you can't argue with the value if you're a 3D owner, as I've yet to see a new release retailing for a mere 15 bucks even on its own, let alone with two extra copies of the movie that you can give to friends. Hell, split the cost among you and increase your value! It's not a great movie by any means, but if you know what you're in for, the ridiculous setpieces and goofy charm should entertain you, especially if you have a beer or two handy. And assuming the 3D is as solid as it was in theaters, it should make for a good disc to throw on when showing off your set to pals (it's a very colorful movie, a big step up from the muted/dim look of the Feast films). Your call.
Overall: 5/10 (bump to 6 for 3D owners)