Mega Piranha

UK DVD release date: 9th August 2010
Certificate: 15
Running time: 92 mins
Director: Eric Forsberg
Starring: Paul Logan, Tiffany, Barry Williams
Genre: Action, Horror, Sci-Fi
UK distributor:  Metrodome
Format: DVD
Country: USA

Genetically engineered piranha are growing at an alarming rate, when the United States Ambassador (Forsberg) to Venezuela is killed aboard a boat the covert Government organization I.S.B send it’s Special Ops Spartan Jason Fitch (Logan) to assess the situation and eliminate any threats.

Mega Piranha belongs to a long standing tradition of ‘killer aquatic’ films, Piranha 2 and Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus being two of the most ludicrous outings worth naming.  When your film is directed by the man behind the excellently absurd Snakes on a Train and War of the Worlds 2 : The New Wave your expectations and thrills are in wonderfully safe hands.  Those waiting for a higher level of cinematic experience than what you would find in Shane Van Dyke’s Titanic II should perhaps not bother getting involved.

Cod bites
The narrative of the film is for the most part under developed, the Special Forces one man army out on a limb is something that’s been done to death but never quite like this.  The idea of giant piranha attacking their way towards the coastal United States is not something that you can sell to an audience without relying on some degree of computer generated imagery and initially it adheres to the Jaws logic of less is more, though largely out of necessity than trying to create the atmosphere of the Spielberg blockbuster.  Eventually the film does require there to be more, the advancement up river demands it and it’s here where the CGI hits rocky waters.  At times it’s suspect at others, the nose diving piranha into the factory roofs for example, is laugh out loud brilliant and it’s that furiously enjoyable atmosphere that Forsberg courts to wonderful affect.

Paul Logan (Fitch) is every physical inch the action hero as he looks like he’s been chiseled from granite unfortunately his performance is from an equally stern mineral.  Where it was perfect for his role as the TR-4 in Xaveir Pusklowski’s straight to video The Terminators it makes the film stutter in moments of narrative development which is fortunately few and far between.  For the most part Logan tenses and flexes from one action sequence to another, two of particularly wonderful merit are the underway knife fight with the piranha and the bicycle kicking of the Normandy style piranha invasion as he fends off at least a dozen in military issue boots.  If this isn’t enough to win you over then the world of ‘Mega Movies’ is probably not the place for you.  Tiffany is something of a surprise as she manages to sell the role of U.S. Genetic Scientist rather convincingly and for the most part you forget all about her other life in the 1980’s.  She does however fail to provide a believable love interest for Fitch as you’re always unsure just how old she is and the moments of intimacy seem awkward and forced but that’s ok, the love interest storyline is one that’s always tacked on to action movies and you can take it of leave it.  Leave it!  The piranha’s have grown again!  Barry Williams is brilliant as the Secretary of State, it’s been a long time since his glory days on The Brady Bunch and my personal favourite Heroes of the Bible but Williams carries the experience of decades on screen with him at every moment and is both commanding and entertaining and a real figure of authority which without the film would genuinely suffer.  Labiosa (Colonel Diaz) is excellent, for an over the top film to work you need an over the top villain.  The piranha’s can’t do it alone and Diaz is exactly what the conflict needs, unreasonable, slightly unhinged and entertaining throughout.  A step backwards from his short spell on 24 yes but another fine actor to flesh out the important supporting cast.

Forsberg as director is extremely strong.  Say what you like about his script, say what you like about his acting, his direction shows a clear understanding of how to put together an action film that grabs and keeps your attention.  There are moments when the direction lets the film down but these are more to do with budgetary restraints rather than poor technique or directional skill and for the most part Forsberg is understanding of his restraints. He has the ability to play to them rather than tipping his hand and trying to do too much with limited financial and CG resources and should be commended for achieving that many directors of greater reputation with greater budgets can not.

Many reviews have been unnecessarily harsh on Mega Piranha which might seem a little hypocritical if you’ve read many of the reviews on this site, most ratings linger around the two star mark but what they don’t have is what Mega Piranha has to spare.  Yes the film has it’s shortcomings, there are plenty to speak of, but what it also has is a genuine love of film making that’s apparent from the moment the film starts until the closing credit.  Every technique deployed whether it’s the freeze at the beginning to introduce the character or the use of split screen is there to further the narrative rather than there to be showy and a smart ass about it [looking directly at you Guy Ritchie].  This is a film that showcases the love of making film and it is infectous and for that should be appreciated for what it achieves rather than beaten for what it aspires to be.  Thoroughly enjoyable, wonderful escapism, pure love.


James Gracey said...

I have a major soft spot for Asylum flicks. Yes, they're shit, but they never fail to entertain. Alas, my house was burgled two years ago - and when my housemate's Playstation was pilfered, my copy of Mega Piranha was in it... The detective who came to take our statements didn't seem too impressed with my taste in films when I told him about it... The heathen! ;)

John Baxter said...

That's the problem with the real life police compared to fictional detectives, they don't get the important stuff. Columbo would have understood.

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