Club Elysium may seem like paradise, but just offshore a new breed of terror has been unleashed, and no one is safe from its savage, insatiable hunger. In the tradition of Anaconda comes a razor-sharp tale of mutant monsters from the deep, directed by James Cameron.
While investigating the mysterious death of a diver, scuba instructor Anne Kimbrough (Tricia O’Neil) makes a horrific discovery: Piranha-like fish, with wings that enable them to fly, are responsible. As the body count rises, Anne desperately tries to convince the resort’s manager to call off the annual fish fry on the beach-but he’s determined to give his guests the ultimate “feeding frenzy”. Packed with suspense, amazing special effects, and featuring a heroic performance by Lance Henriksen, Piranha II: The Spawning will drench you in waves of cold, biting fear.
James Cameron is a big man with a big ego; he is King of the World™, after all. Sure, it could be argued that he deserves many accolades, being the genius and driving force behind such box office thunder as ‘The Terminator’, ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’, ‘Aliens’, ‘The Abyss’, ‘True Lies’, ‘Titanic’ and, finally, the world’s largest grossing film EVER: ‘Avatar’.
But what of ‘Piranha Part Two : The Spawning’?
This late-blooming sequel to the cult classic (it was released three years after its forebear), was actually the first feature-film attempt by Cameron, who was until then mostly on various crew duties, including special effects.
If anyone is surprised by this illegitimate child of his, they are also likely to be astounded by its quality.
For ‘Piranha 2’ (or ‘P2’, as it will hereforth be referred to) is a right mess of a film. It basically plays out like a cheesy teen comedy (situated at a resort, no less!), but mixed with horror and crummy-looking flying fish (yes, flying fish – more on that later!). It’s riddled with all the clichés imaginable – except for the lead female character, who was slightly gutsy and didn’t really need to be rescued (something which is a trademark of Cameron’s, actually).
It rarely gets worse than this: the acting is p-poor, the music is wholly ill-fitting, the special effects are jaw-droppingly bad (which is unexpected seeing as James Cameron is involved), there is absolutely no sense of tension at any point in the film, there is a complete lack of build-up, and it has flying piranhas. Yes, in case you missed it previously, ‘P2’ has flying fish.
So, how about if we move on to those flying fish, then, shall we?
Firstly, piranhas aren’t exactly the scariest creatures around. I understand that. So long as you’re not in the water, you’re fine. And, from a cinematic point of view, it’s difficult to make a piranha attack scary, or even creepy. So I suppose that this is why the writers (which includes Cameron, actually) decided to give them wings – they are, after all, mutant piranhas (oh… well that explains it all, doesn’t it?).
Thankfully, they didn’t decide to give them legs. But they do have wings, and they sometimes do fly at their prey instead of rushing at them underwater. Of course, they can’t actually fly – they’re just props! So the cast of disposable victims frequently has to clutch the plastic fish against them and wiggle as though they were being torn apart by ravenous… um… fish.
So not only is the concept silly, but the execution is even sillier (hard to imagine, but true!).
You’d think that the film’s characters would come up with a simple solution to the problem, like inventing large, steel-wire fly-swatters, or some form of Flying Fish Repellent (see ‘Batman: The Movie’ as reference!), but alas. Sadly, their wholesale inability to defend themselves forces us to watch what really should never have been committed to screen: ritualistic airborne fish attacks!
I think that says it all.
Except that I also wish that someone had invented that giant fly swatter simply so that I could smack the crap out of James Cameron. Thankfully, he redeemed himself soon thereafter, but, in my world-view, ’Piranha Part Two : The Spawning’ (phew! That was a mouthful!) should rightly deflate his ego a couple of notches. Personally, I think that he should be forced to wear a flying piranha prop around his neck until he comes to the realization that he isn’t a demi-god and that, like his fish, he can’t fly.
Much like this movie, for that matter.