PIRANHA 3DD (2012)
Sequel to Alexandre Aja’s Piranha 3D (which is in itself a remake) is not as fun as it’s predecessor, nor is it quite as bad as it’s made out to be. The story, this time, has the prehistoric piranha traveling from the decimated Lake Victoria through an underground river to a sleazy water theme park to continue their feeding.
The problem with this sequel is, director John Gulager seems to take the material a little too seriously despite a script that replaces Piranha 3D‘s wit for blatantly stupid. And stupid would be fine if director Gulager took the ball and ran with it like Alexandre Aja did. The budget for this installment is smaller and thus the film’s scale and carnage lesser, but still, look how fun the low budget 1978 original was without the budget and bloodshed of the 2010 remake. Joe Dante knew to play it serious to a point, but all the while letting the cast and audience in on the fun. When you open a film with Gary Busey and a dead cow that farts piranha eggs, there’s no point in pretending you’re directing Jaws. The gore effects are fine although the CGI is even weaker than it’s predecessor, but despite it’s faults, there is still some entertainment to be had, such as MZNJ Halloween Hottie Katrina Bowden, reciting one of the best lines in the film involving a baby piranha and a certain part of her anatomy.
Gulager’s cast is fine, though only David Hasselhoff seems to really be in on the joke. The rest of the cast, including pretty lead Danielle Panabaker, try really hard to give they proceedings some weight, but probably should have just embraced the goofy material and had a good time. The cameos from some of the survivors from the last entry are fun and there are some funny bits, most involving The Hoff.
It could have been a lot better, but Piranha 3DD did pass the time and I actually feel that with a better script that was more clever than crude, John Gulager might actually have delivered a decent B-movie. An OK time waster when watched in the right frame of mind, but far short of the deliriously fun remake that precedes it.
Rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) carnivorous critters
PITCH PERFECT 2 (2015)
The original Pitch Perfect was a pleasantly surprising diversion with a sassy, sarcastic attitude, likable characters and energetic musical numbers, as directed by Jason Moore. The sequel, again written by Kay Cannon, is now directed by star Elizabeth Banks in her directorial debut and it shows. The movie is just short of an outright mess. The story takes place three years later and The Barden Bellas have ruled collegiate A Cappella all this time, even getting to perform for The President. It’s at that performance that they fall from grace, as Fat Amy’s (Rebel Wilson) wardrobe malfunction causes them to become a national embarrassment and they are removed from collegiate competition. Somehow, though, they can restore their reputation and standing, if they can take the international title away from German uber group Das Sound Machine. Unfortunately, the film wastes two thirds on a bunch of subplots, none of which lead to the main story, such as Beca’s (Anna Kendrick) interning at a record label and a new recruit’s (Hailee Steinfeld) quest to sing her own material. It takes up most of the film with these subplots amounting to not much and it’s only in the last 15 minutes where we get back to the plot and then that’s over with two quick and unimpressive musical numbers…and to a predictable conclusion. Gone is the sassy wit of the first film, replaced by numerous and unfunny vulgar bits with the editing giving the film a very choppy and all-over-the-place feel. Beca and Jesse (Skylar Astin), whose romantic story was one of the cuter aspects of the last movie, are separated for almost the entire film and instead we get Fat Amy’s boring attempts to woo a reluctant Bumper Allen (Adam Devine). Add to that, an overall lack of energy and creativeness to the film’s music numbers and you have a very disappointing sequel to a very surprisingly charming movie.
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (2014)
Fun found footage comedy tells the story of a documentary being made about a group of vampire roommates, Viago (Taika Waititi), Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), Vladislav (Jemaine Clement) and ancient Petyr (Ben Fransham), who live in a flat in Wellington, New Zealand. While they eagerly await the much revered event, The Unholy Masquerade, their world is thrown asunder when Petyr creates a new vampire, Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) who refuses to play by the rules. Not every joke or bit works in this New Zealand horror comedy, but there are some very funny moments and a lot of very clever uses of the time-honored vampire tropes. Co-written and co-directed by stars Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, the two have a lot of fun sending up all kinds of vampire films and Real World style reality shows by cleverly combining the two. They play it straight but not without continually winking at the audience and while it never gets laugh-out-loud funny, there are plenty of giggles to be had, as well as, some amusingly gruesome moments, too. A fun vampire flick/reality show mash-up.
SHARKNADO 3: OH HELL NO! (2015)
Director Anthony C. Ferrante and writer Thunder Levin return for a third entry in this delightfully off-the-charts series. This entry opens with Fin (Ian Ziering) receiving a medal of honor from and then saving the president as another sharknado hits Washington, D.C. Fin discovers there are more shark storms forming and they are poised to combine into a massive sharkicane. With friend Nova (Cassie Scerbo) returning to his side as a shark killing battle-babe, Fin races to Orlando, Florida to save his wife and daughter (Tara Reid, Ryan Newman) from the greatest Sharknado of them all! Third flick is filled with all the lunacy one might expect at this point with as many cameos from media personalities as there are sharks. The action is the usual over-the-top fun, but what makes this one standout a bit, is a scene stealing Cassie Scerbo as the waitress turned bad-ass shark killer, Nova. Not only is she decked out in black leather, but comes with an armored RV/”Bat Cave” from which she conducts her fish kills. The sassy Scerbo is a blast to watch and it’s time for the character to branch off in her own series of flicks, instead of remaining a sidekick. Overall, this is silly fun and maintains an exuberance for it’s ridiculousness. Also stars David Hasselhoff as Fin’s astronaut dad…can you say sharks in space?