harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

Piranha II reviewed: part II (of the review that is)


Scene 40: Smirky is still in her bedroom when she returns, though he has put on his pants. He complains that his ears popped from the vacuum she left behind when she rushed off to Steve [OH SHUT THE FUCK UP, RIGHT NOW, SMIRKY!].

She gives him the brush off after getting [barely] dressed.

Scene 41: She marches out onto the resort veranda to find her boss... FINALLY.

She's frightened and tells him she's cancelling the dive tours. She urges him to cancel all water activities until they can find out what happened to Assholish (and now the other bodies turning up). Raoul is -- oh, of course -- a head-in- the-sand type worrying about guest satisfaction over the dead body of a now-ex guest.

[Blah, blah - can't close the beaches, yada-yada.]

Without a howya-doin', Raoul tells Anne that she's suddenly an ex-employee - just like that, to her understandable gobsmacked shock. Oh, and he needs her to vacate her suite by the following morning, please.

Commentary: Jeezus. Just gotta follow the Brody playbook beat by beat, huh? Will Anne being buying a gun and some cyanide laced bullets, next?

I mean, this was even more clumsy than usual without any lead-in whatsoever, since we haven't seen any indication that Anne and Raoul had any conversations at all about dead ex-guest. I'd like to feel sorry for Ted Richert's being stuck with a stupid and crappily written character, but he's gotten a paid working holiday in the Caribbean, so fuck dat.

Scene 42: Back with Tyler in his own room, he makes an urgent phone call. We find out that Tyler wasn't just on a vacation to the resort, but was keeping an eye out for roving mutant piranha because Dah-dah-DAAAHHH  -- he's in the know about the entire thing!

Oh Smirky McHotass, how could you?!

[And wait. Why did you leave a wreck with roving mutant piranha just offshore of a busy resort if you were worried that this could become a thing??!! WHAT SORT OF STUPID ASSES DO YOU WORK FOR TYLER?!]

Tyler broaches the idea of using Anne to blow the whistle on the killer fish to protect "their" involvement, and tells mystery-called that he's heading out to catch a sample.

Commentary: OH. This is a really stupid scripting decision. It makes absolutely zero sense that Smirky was paid to just hang out on the beach in case escaped mutant killer fish happened to make an appearance, but y'know... wasn't actually out there suspiciously trying to find any evidence of escaped mutant killer fish.


Scene 43: Anne stands on the beach with a chill, despite the hot sun, gazing out at all of the activities happening in the bay.

Insert shot of wreck-POV.

Then Anne has taken the Club Elysium diving boat out into the bay to the dive site. She loads up a spear gun and goes to find herself a suspected killer fish.

Swim, Anne, swim.

Anne swims. Swimming Anne. Anne makes her way down to the wreck and spotlights inward. And SHOCK! (no really, I wasn't expecting it to be this easy) The piranha's are RIGHT THERE, eating some leftovers. One of our aggressive fish dashes straight at Anne! It only goes for her fin, thankfully and she's able to back away.

As she turns to surface, she runs right into Smirky McHotass who follows her up.

Scene 44: Anne is too excited by her find to question why Tyler is out there at all, and rushes to grab her camera, telly Smirky that she doesn't think they like the light, so she wants to get photos before it gets dark. (Smart woman.)

Smirky McHotass tries to dissuade Anne from returning. Smirky tells Anne that four canisters of mutant piranha eggs sank aboard the Fitzgerald, and looks abashed as Anne wonders who he'd know that.

Smirky has to come clean to being a biochemist who worked on the killer fish ultimate organism weapons program.

[Y'know, maybe there'd be a lot less accidental death if you government types would stop trying to create the ULTIMATE KILLER SUCH-N-SUCH. Can't you just be satisfied with the 'pretty deadly, but with a suicide gene' acts against nature?]

They did the gene slicing thing with the local grunnion to survive on land, and the flying fish to be mobile, etc.

Agent McHotass insists that to her that he can't go and tell the authorities what he knows because CLASSIFIED and he has to file reports through the proper channels [which, alas, we must conclude is his way of manipulating her into going public, since he's already broached using her for that goal with Called-mystery -- so now he's not only Smirky, but as McHole, too].

He at least seems somewhat conflicted about using Anne to break the mutant-fish threat to the public, while leaving himself and his bosses in the clear [EXCEPT NOT -- You already told Anne you were part of the program... how do you think that's going to stay quiet when somebody looks into your background and finds all kinds of interesting things about your biochemistry career? They're trying to keep us on McHole's side in this, but no. I hope he gets munched right through his tighty briefs].

Scene 45: Somehow, Anne didn't manage to get her pictures and blow the whistle all day, because now it's that late night. Steve is out on the police coptor to find the boat that his son is currently 'serving' on. Despite hovering over the 'Our Way' with spotlights, it takes a disconcertingly long while for Mr.-uh, Captain Dumont to make an appearance on deck in his PJs.

Chief uses the loud speaker to tell Dumont to turn his radio on. Chief asks to speak to his son, but Dumont has to relay that his daughter and the Chief's son are not onboard. He offers they must've taken the dinghy when he was asleep. Chief orders his brusquely to stay put and if they show up, to call him immediately on channel 6.

Scene 46: Back at the resort, the night has come for the grunnion fish massacre on the beach. Raoul is making the rounds and shares (empty) moments with Honeymooners. For reasons, Chief stopped worrying about his son long enough to return to shore, and take a complaint from Fisherman about his ripped nets that he pulled up from the sea.

He also shows Chief a dead fish, chewed up also brought up in his net. It's suggested that Chief recognizes the bite marks from Assholish, Jai and Nurse April.

Commentary: Okay. I'm really concerned here with the general lack of urgency, now. Chief has said himself that he has three dead bodies, one from out at sea, one on a boat and one in a Coroner's all with the same chewed up damage.

His son is unaccounted for. His wife (he doesn't know she's been fired) works in the water nearly every day. And he's got fisherman, vacationers and the local resort staff in harm's way: WHERE IS THE URGENCY?!

Where is his calling Anne onshore to tell her to find a boat, any boat, and help him find their son? C'mon, let's get some energy into this thing.

Scene 47: Sometime later, Chief, Deputy, Fisherman and Anne are in Raoul's office to convince him of the danger of the mutant killer fish, while he tells them that he can't cancel the Great Fishfry because economy and stuff. Plus, Anne is having paranoid delusions. And why isn't McHole there to back her up? It's a bit late to worry about secrecy now, surely?

Whatever, you know what this scene's purpose is, and it's accomplished.

[Still no panic over a missing son, huh?]

It was nice to have Steve call a man a "bitch".

Scene 48: Out in fisherman's village, Fisherman's Son is putting away the nets from that day's haul and generally cleaning up for the night. He doesn't, alas, hear the Strings Of Warning to let him know it's not as quiet as it seems.

Out in the bay, the water boils with activity as the flying pirahna-grunnion-flying fish come out onto air/land.

[Also deeply unfortunate? They haven't returned to the whirring that was effective and fun in Pirahna, but are still squeaking, instead.]

The fish stalk our Fisherman's Son (which only emphasizes how ridiculous this is... they really should've stayed with fast attacks, keeping the actual fish off screen for as much as possible).

As son is washing up, he knocks a can into the icky cleaning sink water and has to go in after his watch that went in with it.

He retrieves his watch, but when he removes a towel to wipe it off, a flying killer fish is hiding out under it to ambush attack! G'bye Fisherman's Son.

When he falls into the sink, the whirring returns. (Yes, he manages to stuff his whole body in the cleaning sink to be quietly killed off. Unlike Jai, who screamed while having holes in her throat, Fisherman's Son can scarcely make any noise at all while wrestling around with a fish.)

Scene 49: Elsewhere on some quiet beach, Chris is putting the moves on Allison Dumont. They hotly kiss while standing in a waterfalls. But before things can go into underage sex, Chris runs down the beach to return to their dinghy with Allison (really badly ADR'd) laughing and teasing him.

Scene 50: Back at Fisherman's Shacks, body of Fisherman's Son floats up in the bodylength cleaning sink.

He's remarkable intact, which is of no actual comfort to Fisherman who has just found him. Oh, poor Fisherman (ow, acting is really good for sobbing Fisherman... No joke pending).

Scene 51: Elsewhere, Anne is rushed by Jeep to the helipad where she meets Chief at the coptor and asks about their son, which Chief has to report in the negative.

Chief is ready to go up again. He tells Deputy to drive Anne back to the resort, and if anything happens to shut the place down - by gunpoint if no other way. Anne questions not shutting down the resort's beach activities immediately, but Chief tells her that after multitudes of transfers he was able to speak to a Colonel who acknowledged that Tyler existed, but claims he was fired from the unnamed research department for being unstable. Right now, they don't have enough proof to prove he's telling the truth about the menace (blah-blah-bibbity-blah)....

Commentary: Very clearly, there has been a lot of scene shuffling going on so that Anne and Steve's concern for their missing son after three dead bodies have shown up is coming really frickin' late. And even, still, Lance seems more bored than frantic.

Scene 52: Over with despondant Fisherman, he prepares dynamite for the killer of his son. A batch of dynamite with a timer switch. He walked in on by Smirky McHole. Fisherman stares at the intruder, but then goes back to his timer, which he sets for 06:30.

McHole strides towards him, with his ultimate intentions unknown.

Scene 53: After midnight, the beach fry party is in full swing. Raoul is presiding over the waiting party goers with clubs, warning that if anyone moves down to the beach too soon, the fish will be scared off (hah, they're gonna wish) and they'll have nothing to fry.

Anne watches, worried. She calls to Deputy Aaron, but no sign of killer fishes.

Among our partiers are drunken couple, and Cougar - both of which are separately, more interested in other things.

Cougar Wilson is turned down again by Cutie-Beachcleaner who is already with his girlfriend when she stops by. She apologizes for having the wrong room. He's very cool about the whole seduction attempt. Girlfriend seems a bit clueless on the situation.

Scene 54: Over the ocean, Steve searches for Chris' dinghy. On the beach, Deputy Aaron is seeking the darkness for killer fish. We hear the whirring. Water boils with subsurface activity. Deputy Aaron goes for a closer look.

At Club Elysium, Raoul pontificates to keep the party goers engaged with waiting for the fish beaching.

[Jeezus. Did this really need to be 94 minutes? HINT: The answer is 'No'. This is taking too long, and should've been trimmed down to a lean 70-80 minute runtime.]

On the beach, Cutie-Beachcleaner makes his appearance late. Raoul is snotty at him.

Scene 55: With Deputy Aaron, he suddenly stands up in the waist high water, which only God knows why he went in there to begin with. But he stands up now, and he's gasping for air, chewed up and mutilated. He hears Anne over his dropped radio and struggles to stumble to it, to warn her that the killer fish are there.

Alas, just as Aaron reaches for the radio, he's massed by the fish who drag him back out to his final death at sea.

Commentary: Dammit, and I was all ready to heap praise on this short scene. We've got the heroic side player - for a change, we've got some damned nasty makeup effects, and we have a tragic death before Aaron can use his last breath to warn others. I loved it... for a moment. And then it was ruined by the stupid "drag him away" part: How do fish drag somebody from the beach out to sea??

Arrgh. Why didn't they just have him gasp out a sickly scream, as the fish land atop him and finish him off still clawing desperately for the radio? The scene could've gone out on pathos, instead of silliness.

Scene 56: In their room, drunk couple - who have ended up being Dentist Bell and doctor-catcher tourist - are goofing around and burning valuable runtime.

Back on the beach, we burn more runtime waiting for a massacre of fish or people Cougar stumbles around, looking for somebody to want her. People congregate on beach to wack spawning fish. Staff play traditional drums to call the fish from the sea.

Anne looks around, and sees Fisherman carrying Fisherman's Son's body to the resort for reasons. Perhaps to lure Anne away from the immediate beach, so that she isn't immediately mobbed with the side players and their doomed dayplayer neighbors.

He and Anne share tears over his dead son, while out in the bay the waters roil with subsurface activities and the whirring sounds.

Commentary: I always like it when the not-stars are nevertheless given real moments in a story, and Fisherman's actor has handled his opportunity very well. Good show.

Scene 57: After an interminably long time (which wasn't spent actually building up tension, alas), the (ridiculous) flying fish finally come up on the beach. The partiers go to bash 'em. They get munched on, instead.

There's panicked running, except for the unfortunates who stand there gawking and get mobbed.

Many unfortunates choose to dive into the pool for safety and find none.

For reasons beyond comprehension, bodies are left dead on the ground, instead of being consumed wholly. As everyone else heads inside to shelter, Fisherman stands out in the open in defiance. He's left to die a really stupid fucking death, not dynamiting the fish during the day in the ship, as was his plan.

Anne is left to watch his bloody exit.

Commentary: Oh, my god. I'm so pissed. Of course, Fisherman wasn't going to get the hero moment of destroying the fish. That was a given. Only Mighty-Whitey has those powers, but surely - SURELY - they could've given him a dignified exit in trying to deliver the dynamite to the marauding fish's lair? This was a pathetic suicide, which I could even understand as a story choice for the character, IF they hadn't made such a big deal of his plans to bomb the Fitzgerald.

But they did. So his choosing to dodge fish-on-wires until his dodge failed and he quietly acquiesed to getting mauled was frickin' stupid and shitty.

Scene 58: Out, above the sea, Steve continues to try to find his son, who is currently sleeping in his little boat lazily drifting with the currents with Allison.

It appears she finally got into his pants at some point. Right now, though, they're lost at sea which Allison doesn't grasp the trouble of, but Chris does.

[Oh. That was that. Scene? Um.]

Scene 59: So, the fish return to the water apparently, because now Anne is driving up to pier, where she once again intends to steal the dive boat. She's scared witless when a man she didn't see is sitting in the dark ready to light a cigarette dramatically: It is McHole, being McHoley.

McHole tells her that he was expecting Fisherman and she breaks the news on that front, along with the party slaughter.

He offers to deliver Fisherman's payload to the wreck.

Scene 60: Out in the dark sea, Chris is a dumb shit out there without even an outboard motor. Apparently, he was able to convince the Dumont girl that it isn't romantic, but dangerous.

Anne warns her husband not to be near the wreck at 06:30am. He tries to argue against her trying to dynamite the ship. Smirky goes to inform Steve that he'll be the one in danger, but Anne tells him not to answer her husbands pleas.

Helicoptor, helicoptor.

Scene 61: At dawn, our diving duo go into the drink to blow themselves up some killer fish.

[God, I want this movie to be over, now.]

Swim, swim, swim Anne and McHole.

Our duo swim into the interior of the ship, even knowing that now would be the time when the killer fish have either nested there again, or will be rushing back to nest there during the day. They ergo swim super-slowly.

Timered dynamite is set in place. With less than 20 min to go... and no sign of the killer fish.

Commentary: Which, I was going to ask when Fisherman was setting the timer why he was choosing such a ridiculously early hour, rather than during high noon, when everyone would KNOW that the fish made it back and were settled down, but I let it pass.

However, now I have to ask it: WHY would you choose such an arbitrary time so close to the line of when the fish might find it too bright to stay out in the open water, instead of re-setting the timer for later in the morning when you know the sun will be shining brightly and forcing them to the ship?

No, it isn't building tension about whether the fish will be successfully killed, because the plan isn't dependent on cutting the margin so closely. It's just our heroes being stupid.

OH, and because I didn't mention it: Steve is still scanning in the helicoptor. Without backup. Without an all points bulletin. Without calling out everyone who he was ever friends with who had a boat and was willing to help.

Scene 62: As Anne and McHole are exiting the ship, Anne is confronted by a swarm of razorteethed fish heading right for her as the school returns to the ship for the day.

They're forced to turn around and swim even deeper into the bowels of the wreck, with the countdown reaching blow-up time.

McHole shuts a heavy steel door behind them, just in time to stop the fish from catching up (because he chose to wait the extra time so that it WOULD be just in time... frickin' McHole).

As McHole and Anne are trying to find an alternate way out, the mutant piranha are trying to find an alternate way to them.

They find an alternate grate to get out from the wreck, but as Annie tries to pull on the metal slats blocking the way, the fish show up, blocking that escape route.

Commentary: The music trying, it really is, but I just want this ship to blow up and then I can get to posting.

Yeah, 75-minutes-ish would've worked for me just fine.

Scene 63: Out at sea, Chris has managed to row across the dive boat. At the same time, Helicoptor Dad finds the teens. He asks if Chris can drive the dive boat, which gets a "I dunno" shrug. Steve checks his watch, and sees that the dynamite is going off in 10 minutes.

Steve, thinking quickly, chooses to leap out of his coptor, allowing the bird to turn into a model, crash into the ocean and immediately blow up. Because.

Scene 64: In the wreck, the piranha are busy trying to chew/squeeze through the grating to catch up with our dynamiting duo.

With six minutes to go, Steven swims over to the dive boat to go get Chris and Dumont and get them out of the blast area.

Below, in the wreck, the fish have gotten through the barrier.

Four minutes to go, and they've found a way out, but it's a tight fit and the oxygen tanks have to be removed from their backs and fed through the hole in the hull, for them to follow. In the meantime, the fish are quickly tracking them down... as fish who aren't sharks apparently do, too.

At three minutes to go, the kids are brought onboard the purloined dive boat. Chris questions his dad on why it was necessary to ditch the coptor.

Scene 65: Anne and McHole dawdle with two minutes to go -- as you do in these circumstances, don't try to lie to me.

Anne finds the final way out to the ocean blocked again by another grate... OH NOES! THERE IS NO WAY THEY ESCAPE!

In the meantime, McHole gets his tank strap tangled up is some more grating, and before he can catch up with her, the killer fish find him.

His legs get chewed up, while Anne is looking at blowing up if she's lucky for another less than two minutes.

On the surface, Steve watches the countdown and his time to put the boat in gear and abandon Anne ticks closer.

1 minute.

Scene 66: Below, Anne escapes, but McHole can't get away from the dining fish.

Above, time has run out and Steve has to leave his wife behind to get away from the immediately blast zone.

Anne sees the boat above her pulling away under power! BUT! Steve didn't pull up the anchor, and is dragging it along as he powers away, giving Anne a chance to still make it! She grabs on and rides it.

The ship blows up real good, rattling those aboard the diving boat.

Anne's eardrums are ruptured, along with her lungs and spleen and she quickly bleeds out/breathes in water from the devastating shock wave and dies... HAH! AS IF!

Remarkably, Anne is barely rattled. Her husband and son are SO relieved, they get shunted into slow motion to help her out of the sea.

The Good: I enjoyed our first death scene of our horny couple gettin' ate. The diving scene was a little too long, the nudity was a bit too unnecessary strictly speaking, but I enjoyed it to get us kicked off.

Some of the makeup affects were decently done enough to put here on such a low budget.

The whirring of the school underwater returning from the first film was welcomed. When we got it.

The Bad: First and foremost was the pacing and the length. This movie had about 15-20 minutes too much and after the big set piece, we really needed to skip forward to stopping the menace and get outta there.

It always bugs me when there is way too much ambient light for the circumstances. Don't get me wrong, I like to actually see the movie, too. But brigher underwater at night, than on the surface is pretty clumsy filming.

Our main critters, unfortunately. I can coast on silly killer animals - in fact, I'll probably turn my brain off in most circumstances and buy-in, but not when the mode of death is holding a prop to your throat and making struggling sounds. That's just too weak for me to look over.

There is some really bad underreaction going on (much of which may be due to scenes being swapped around in editing) when the son of the two major characters is missing after multiple deaths. We go far too long without anyone being hurried to find him.

The attempts to generate tension, except for Anne's ultimate escape at the end just doesn't generate any. The scenes are too long and they don't build up properly to have the intended effect.

The fish squeak/chirp when they were not in the water was a really poor choice.

The way the deaths are handled of dayplayers was really odd. Especially Assholish, which should've generated a lot of conflict between Anne and her boss didn't do anything. So in keeping with this thought, when Anne is having her confrontation with Raoul and gets fired, it's really coming out of left field. There is no build up to this antagonism.

The entire backstory is assinine. It makes zero sense that experimental, genetically modified piranha eggs goes down with a Navy vessel, in water shallow enough to have amateur divers enjoy, but the top secret product is just left there to... maybe do nothing, maybe grow into killer fish to devastate he local ecosystem and kill people?? What?!

Other Thoughts: It's always nice when there is equal opportunity gawking at skin, and during the flimsily dressed scenes, we get just as much guys in speedo as women in bikinis, so that makes me happy.

The first meeting with Anne Kimbrough is awkward. Her lack of dress around her hotel room with her post-puberty son was... ick. But other than that first meet, I liked the chemistry between Tricia and Ricky.

There is some really weird things going on with the supporting players/side characters. We spend a bit too much time meeting them and getting an idea of their shtick, like an Irwin Allen movie. But then once the fish attack, we don't get much from them, and Dr. Bell and his admirerer and the Cougar don't even get killed onscreen, or have a follow up scene with their trauma. One has to wonder why so much attention was paid to them at the beginning.

So, okay. There are several points where I thought I knew exactly where the predictable script was going, only to be fooled. Alas, most of the time, it was only because something that received special focus for later then turned out to not have anything to do.

The relationship between Steve and Anne is muddled. I think they were trying to build a complicated relationship between the two, but it really just comes across as poorly defined in the scripting.

The major attack sequence on the beach felt really, really perfunctory, unexciting and wasn't nearly any fun for a horror fan. I enjoyed the aftermath, and Tricia's acting in its aftermath but the sequence itself felt humdrum. And I'm really cheezed at Fisherman's exit after that dramatic scene with his son's death. So much more could've been found for him to do, so that his death had some greater purpose behind it.

The final sequence would be fine, exciting, great music... if not for how long it takes to get to the big boom. And, naturally, Anne's coming through it little worse for wear is ... questionable.

The Score: This should've been a rockin', crazy, time with a ridiculous monster leavened with a large sense of humor. But it wasn't. It was all taken so seriously, that it turned out to be too earnest, where it needed us to be cheering and jeering our victims.

It isn't nearly as much fun as Piranha was, and with such a ridiculous concept, it should've been even more so. Really, it's just a disappointment that can't be saved by even Lance.

2.25 out of 5 stars

Tags: review piranha

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