Movie review: Piranha 3D

It brilliantly demonstrated all that’s exciting about modern cinemas reinvigorated love affair with 3D

Sometimes, when I’m walking down the street listening to music, I do think to myself, ‘if I get hit by a bus right now and die, when the paramedics take my iPod from my pocket, my friends and my family are going to know that in my final moments I was listening to the Greatest Hits Of ABBA’. It doesn’t matter that I was a kind, reasonably intelligent young man with a broad variety of interests and opinions on all manner of highbrow art and culture – they’re always going to know that I had an equal penchant for camp, bombastic Swedish pop.

If you’re ever been to the ruined city of Pompeii, you’ll perhaps know what I mean. I’ll hazard a guess that you don’t remember the family sat down for their evening meal, forever frozen in time. But I’d bet my life you bought a postcard of the dog that ceased to be at the precise moment he was impassionedly licking his nuts.

Similarly, I spent much of my time watching Piranha 3D thinking, ‘please don’t let the world end right now. Let it end next week when I’m watching Enter The Void. Gaspar Noé directed that. He’s won awards and stuff’. My point being that if aliens descend upon earth in a hundred years time and decide to assess what kind of species we were, I’d hate for my absent soul and rotting corpse – ney, human civilization’s as a whole – to be defined by taking pleasure from CGI depictions of flesh eating fish gnawing on a flaccid, castrated penis. In 3D.

But enjoy it I did – at least with my legs crossed – and at least for the final 30 minutes. The first hour is more boring than a film about flesh-eating fish has any right to be, and made me long for the simple, Jaws-aping thrills of the 1978 original – even the James Cameron directed sequel to that film, and that’s an abomination. But like most World Cup Finals that end in penalties, the lions share of Piranha 3D merely exists to tee up its quite sensational closing scene, which takes the cast of porn stars, Kelly Brook and Elisabeth Shue you’ve spent the previous hour detesting, throws them into the water, and lets thousands and thousands of (it should be said, quite beautifully designed) piranhas shred them to bits.

It’s sort of what NME does with bands we get bored of, to be honest, but much less well-intentioned.

So, yeah, it’s unlikely Piranha 3D is going to win an Oscar then, but I did think it was a movie that brilliantly demonstrated all that’s exciting about modern cinemas reinvigorated love affair with 3D. For one thing, the entire movie is a nod to the American B-movies of the ’50s and ’60s that charmed audiences into theatres and drive-thus, then kept them there by bolting cardboard and Perspex glasses to their skulls. For another, people getting torn apart by fish, decapitated by falling ship sails, skinned alive by boat propellers, and, yup, having their cocks torn off, just looks better when you can see it an inch from your face. But please, don’t quote me on the cock thing.

You should go see Piranha 3D. Maybe on Friday night with a friend and your bodyweight in popcorn. Don’t worry about getting there late, the beginning is rubbish. But be alert; if it looks like the worlds about to end, get out of the cinema sharpish. Maybe stash a copy of Three Colours: Blue somewhere nearby to hold in your hands as the bombs begin to fall.

James McMahon