Tuesday, June 8, 2010

MEGA PIRANHA

Once again, The Asylum slaps the prefix "mega" onto one of its microbudgeted creature features. This time around, it's MEGA PIRANHA (2010), a ferocious fish story that almost justifies itself through its sheer audacity.

Scientists (pop star Tiffany, Jude Gerard Prest and Jesse Daly) working at a UN laboratory in Venezuela, accidentally release a strain of genetically-engineered super (or "mega") piranha into a local river. Now, these finny fiends are more than just voracious carnivores - they can gnaw through wood and metal boats, leap through the air, and can reproduce asexually. Even more impressively, they double their size every hour or two, and are headed downriver toward the open sea. When an American ambassador is killed in an early attack, a secret agent (athletic Paul Logan, TERMINATORS, MEGAFAULT) is dispatched (by government "secretary" Barry Williams, THE BRADY BUNCH) to South America, where he teams up with the scientists to battle the gargantuan guppies.

Written & directed by Eric Forberg with amusingly inconsistent visual effects by Rogue State, MEGA PIRANHA is cheerfully stupid and briskly paced nonsense. The dialogue is ludicrous, the characters are one-dimensional, and the shoestring budget is evident in almost every shot. But - the story structure is actually pretty sound, with a constantly-escalating threat that gives the flick some genuine momentum. If the ultimate solution to the threat seems rather anticlimactic, it's only because Forberg has systematically built his monsters into something truly formidable - too much so, in fact, since he ends up writing himself into a narrative cul de sac.

MEGA PIRANHA's not especially good, but it is entertaining. I laughed out loud pretty much every time a giant piranha leaped from the surf to crash suicidally into a building, which would then inexplicably explode. The scene where Logan fends off an attack of multiple jumping fish monsters by lying on his back and kicking them away is so ridiculous, that you have to grin at the audacity of the filmmakers. Someday, though, The Asylum should really hire a screenwriter who can actually pen human-sounding, witty dialogue....

Oh - I actually liked the song that Tiffany sings over the closing credits. It has nothing to do with the movie, but she sings it well.

The Asylum DVD presents MEGA PIRANHA in a perfectly satisfactory 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Audio options are 5.1 Surround and 2.0 stereo. Bonus features consist of a "Making Of" featurette, a blooper reel, and trailers for other Asylum movies.

It's better than the same studio's MEGASHARK VS. GIANT OCTOPUS, if that counts for anything, and if you enjoy giant monster movies, you may want to check it out when they rerun it on the SyFy channel. But if you have no patience for unconvincing CGI helicopters and carnivorous fish, bad acting and utterly imaginary "science" - or if you actually expect a movie called MEGA PIRANHA to be "good" - save yourself the irritation and give it a pass.

Me, I had fun.

BUY: Megapiranha