Every once in a while a movie comes along with such a brilliant vision, such impeccable timing in terms of world events, such a stellar cast that it seems fated to be an instant classic. You see the trailer, the excitement begins, building slowly until you can’t wait to see this great blockbuster and tell your friends that you were the first to see it. A movie about prehistoric fish devouring a stand in for Lake Havasu all done in glorious toothy 3d should have been that movie – but it isn’t.
I don’t know exactly what I was expecting from this movie. There are the basics of course, Prehistoric toothy fish, body parts, gallons of blood, fake boobs, bad jokes. I suppose it delivered on all of those in spades but for some reason I left feeling a little cheated. The DNA of this movie is obvious and if you think you have seen this before it’s because you have – but not in a while and it relies on your fond memories of how much fun a bucket of blood like this once was. Perhaps a little too much.
To say there is nothing new about this movie is like saying every baseball game is basically the same. It’s true and misleading at the same time. Usually in films like this what works is its ability to paint perfectly within the lines of its genre, adhering faithfully to the rules of a creature feature/bucket of blood type film. In one sense we need the familiarity with the genre – it is what makes it a ball game after all. You wouldn’t play baseball with golf balls for instance. In another it’s just too old a convention and throughout the sixties and seventies and eighties there was such a deluge of these films that you really do need them to revise it in some way, update it, make it relevant again, or at least hilarious.
Piranha achieves none of this. It colors so strictly between the lines that it feels at times like a paint by numbers movie. The humor strains itself too much for a laugh, the action is tired and predictable, the special effects even seem aged not by intent but by stale vision. The acting – well – any fool that would go see this for academy award winning performances by Elizabeth Shue and a cast of cameos should really have their head examined and probably have someone to monitor their bank accounts for stupidity.
I really wanted this to be a fun movie and I guess, in some ways it is, but there really isn’t enough of it to go around. It’s diluted by so much of the same that it’s the cinematic equivalent of looking for a specific drop in an ocean. Unfortunately it isn’t so much an attempt to reboot a much maligned but much adored genre as it is an attempt to add another piece of junk to the pile.
So I’d have to say, much to my chagrin – because I really am very fond of the long lost creature feature – that I probably won’t remember this one next week. Bummer.