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Piranha 3DD

The Weinstein Company // R // September 4, 2012
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Adam Tyner | posted August 31, 2012 | E-mail the Author
So, at one point in Piranha 3DD, a lil' razor-toothed fish swims up into a chick's hoo-hah, chomps onto her boyfriend's dick when he starts screwing her afterwards, and then he has to hack off his own prick with a butcher knife.

I know! It kinda does sound like Piranha 3DD was tailor-made for me. It's more deliriously over-the-top than Alejandro Aja's Piranha 3D was
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a couple years back. It's been lovingly crafted by the writers and director behind Feast, which just so happens to be in the running as my single favorite splatter-comedy of the past decade. I could totally get behind a movie with a piranha-in-a-waterpark premise. Plus there's a boob joke right there in the title. Scowl at me with disapproval all you want, but dammit, I was sincerely looking forward to catching Piranha 3DD.

...aaaand it's terrible.

The movie's pretty much Girls Gone Wild and Oh Yeah Piranha. Chet (David Koechner) -- the Mayor Vaughn of The Big Wet waterpark -- has stumbled onto two brilliant ways to make money. One: open up an all-adult, clothing-optional chunk of the park, complete with stripper lifeguards. Two, instead of shelling out big money to all those pesky utilities, just pump in water from that big, ancient, underground lake. The only thing is...oops! Piranha.

Look, you're not in any danger of giving a shit about the premise, which is just an excuse to get a lot of nubile twentysomethings to lose their tops. Not that Piranha 3D was exactly The Magnificent Ambersons or whatever, but at least it delivered a few genuinely likeable, sympathetic characters; pretty much everyone in 3DD, meanwhile, is dead air. For whatever reason, this sequel-to-a-remake is way more fascinated by its parade of cameos, including Gary Busey, Christopher Lloyd, and David Hasselhoff, with the post-modern hypermetaness all cranked up to eleven. It's not nearly as
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much fun as it oughtta be, especially once you're up to the...what is it, the third time David Hasselhoff is running around with the Baywatch theme blasting? I should be totally into Gary Busey lighting a cow-corpse-bloated-with-piranha-eggs-fart and an overcaffeinated Christopher Lloyd rambling on about a "laughing diarrhea baby", but...nope!

As desperately as Piranha 3DD mugs for laughs, not a single one of 'em manages to connect. Just about every last one of the scares, if you want to call them that, are paint-by-numbers and routine. A few of the jolts got me anyway because I'm a cheap date like that, but the big kill sequences all feel like stuff I've already seen in other something's-in-the-water horror flicks, down to a legless Ving Rhames going all Planet Terror on some fanged fishies. Although there are a whole lot more boobs this time around, there's borderline-zero gore, which...I don't know how you can even hammer out a movie about razor-toothed fish that eat people with this little splatter. It's mostly just people with light prosthetic work smeared with blood along with some rubbery severed limbs bobbing around in the water. Genre sequels are supposed to up the ante, but Piranha 3DD is much, much, much less graphic than what Alejandro Aja swooped in with a couple summers back. I mean, nothing here comes close to the carnage in the lake from Piranha 3D. The photography and special effects are only a marginal step-up over a SyFy Original. It's tough to tell how much of the dialogue is deliberately cringeworthy, especially with how earnestly lines like "hey, let's take off all our clothes and go swimming!" are delivered, but...yeah, 'sbad. As cute and charming as Katrina Bowden was in Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, she somehow completely forgot how to act here, and Danielle Panabaker pretty much sleepwalks through her leading turn. Piranha 3DD also struggles to fill its barely-feature-length runtime, clocking at a hair over 70 minutes minus credits.

I mean, Piranha 3D wasn't exactly some awe-inspiring cinematic masterpiece, but it still managed to be a hell of a lot of fun. Piranha 3DD, meanwhile, is drenched with flopsweat trying desperately to pull off more of the same an' failing at pretty much every conceivable turn. Skip It.

Okay, so Piranha 3DD is a three-disc set. First up is the 3D version of the flick, which ::audible gasp!:: was shot natively in 3D, not poorly post-converted the way Piranha 3D was. Alas, I don't have a 3DTV, so I can't say a whole lot more than that. (C'mon, somebody put out a Kuro killer already so I can start writing about stuff like this!) I can tell you that stuff's relentlessly leaping towards the screen, so I'm assuming 3DD delivers all the pop-out effects you damnfool kids are always going on about.

The flat version is just called Piranha DD, and...when I say "flat", I mean flat. Contrast is astonishingly poor unless the image has a hell of a lot of light to play with, dragged down by anemic, soupy black levels. The cinematography in general has a chintzy direct-to-video look to it, and it's probably the single noisiest flick I've ever seen lensed with a RED camera. Some shots are startlingly crisp and detailed; many others are a soft, mushy mess. The rule of thumb goes something like "day exteriors == good; everything else == bad". Piranha DD gets the nod as one of the most sloppily compressed Blu-ray discs I've come across. Pop open some of these suckers below to full-size to see what I mean. I didn't compress the enlarged versions at all, so every bit of macroblocking you're seeing there is on the disc itself. These aren't isolated incidents either, by the way.

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It's still kinda cool to see a bright, candy-colored genre flick instead of the dark, dingy, dour stuff that's usually coming down the pike, so I guess I have something nice to say here.

Oh, and the third disc in the set is an anamorphic widescreen DVD, as if anyone still cares about that.

As far as the other technical stuff goes, DD arrives on a single-layer disc, is presented unmatted, and has been encoded with AVC. 3DD at least gets the dual-layer treatment, although poking around the files on my computer, it looks like it struggles with compression too. Oh well.

Both Blu-ray discs score a lossless soundtrack: six-channel, 24-bit DTS-HD Master Audio, and...well, it's okay. There are definitely bursts of big, booming bass just like I expect outta my genre
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flicks. The surrounds are used reasonably well: gurgling water, crowd noise in the waterpark, beer cans getting slapped around...that sort of thing. Dialogue is balanced nicely enough too. It's just that I've gotten spoiled by Blu-ray discs where every last element in the mix is rendered clearly, cleanly, and distinctly. Here, it all sounds kinda mushed together. The lossless audio isn't bad or anything, but it doesn't deliver the level of clarity I waltzed in expecting to hear.

No dubs or anything this time around. Subtitles are limited to English (SDH) and Spanish.

The extras are all on the 2D disc, and...they're in standard definition across the board, which I didn't know was even still a thing anymore. The gag reel plays over the movie's end(-less) credits, so there's that too, I guess.
  • Audio Commentary: Yeah, yeah, I can't say I'm all that crazy about Piranha 3DD as a movie or anything, but I really dug the commentary track with director John Gulager, producer Joel Soisson, and co-writer Marcus Dunstan anyway. It's fat-packed with personality, breezing through stuff like Gary Busey chucking out all the dialogue he'd said minutes earlier that he loved, the original plan being to make a water-centric movie during a Detroit winter, and shooting the underwater footage with 3D cellphone cameras. They also touch on some stuff that didn't make it into the movie -- David Hasselhoff first popping up being a prick at Applebee's, a scene explaining why Maddy was okay jumping in the water after her friends had been gobbled up by piranha the day before, a more elaborate introduction to destruction, and the logistics behind bloodying up a water park. If you do wind up grabbing this Blu-ray disc, definitely give the commentary a listen.

  • Deleted Scenes (3 min.; SD): You're lookin' at three short snippets revolving around Big Dave. Nothing really of note.

  • Promotional Interviews or Whatever (6 min.; SD): I guess these three clips -- "Wet and Wild with David Koechner", "The Hofftastic World of David Hasselhoff", and "Busey's Bloopers" -- were part of some viral marketing thing. It's basically just a couple minutes each of 'em mugging at the camera and promoting the movie. They're aimed more at people who haven't seen this sequel already, and I guess the titties were all blacked out to be more YouTube-friendly.

  • The Story Behind the DD (8 min.; SD): Piranha 3DD's making-of featurette is a straightahead promotional piece too, lobbing out a bunch of excerpts from the flick, recapping the premise and characters, and mostly cheerfully rambling on about the cast. No
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    real meat to gnaw on here.

  • A Lesson with John McEnroe (4 min.; SD): John McEnroe plays tennis with some overentitled dipshit, building to absolutely nothing in this laughless, pointless short.

If you missed it a few paragraphs up, Piranha 3DD is a three disc set: BD-3D, BD, an' DVD. A code for an iTunes digital copy has also been lovingly tucked inside.

The Final Word
Awww...I'm a card-carrying fan of John Gulager's Feast, and I was keeping my fingers crossed that he'd infuse Piranha 3DD with some of that same masterful splatter-comedy genius. It's kinda limp and lifeless, though, chucking out most of the gore and all of the fun that Piranha 3D delivered a couple years back. The lossless audio's kinda routine, the sloppily authored video is more than a little bit substandard, and the extras are mostly filler. Um, it's cheap, though, with a pricetag under $15 on Amazon as I write this, so I guess there's that. Still, my vote...? Skip It.
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