by Alyx Ancira
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SyFy’s original movie Mega-Piranha combines two ingredients that should make the movie work: big ol’ mutant piranhas and 80s pop sensation Tiffany. But does the movie work as a whole?
It’s important to mention that I enjoy campy movies every now and then, and Syfy is notorious for their original movies. Films like Pterydactol, Komodo vs. Cobra and Croc are fun movies to watch on a late night with a few friends and a few beers in tow. With their ridiculous storylines and awful acting, these movies definitely serve a purpose, and you can definitely add Mega-Piranha to that list of oddly charming, giant animal movies.
The story kicks off with the US Ambassador getting “assassinated” on a boat in Venezuela. Was he assassinated or is there something amiss? This is what Secretary of State Barry Williams (yes, THAT Barry Williams) asks himself upon hearing the news, so he decides to send military ace, and all around bad ass Jason Finch to investigate. Once there, Finch meets up with the American scientists who have genetically modified piranha so that they……. do something. It’s all really up in the air why they played Frankenstein here. Dr. Sarah Monroe (Tiffany) briefs Finch on the piranha situation and how they’re growing at a fast rate. What then follows are accusations of espionage, double crosses, Barry Williams yelling into an iPhone, and a spectacular moment where we see a character bicycle kick a bunch of piranha.
It takes a while for the movie to really kick into gear. I found myself a bit bored with the flick for the first half of the movie, which involved: setting up ridiculous characters like the Venezuelan Army Colonel Diaz whose accent expertly dropped for most of the movie, underwhelming kills by the piranha (that hadn’t yet reached “mega” status) and Tiffany furrowing her brow trying to explain the disaster potential of the piranha’s growth. The only highlight for me during this period were the scenes with Finch knifing a piranha under water and receiving orders from Barry Williams . There’s also a sweet scene where Finch pops his iPhone batter into his mouth to give it 10% more battery life. Who knew!
The film really gets going for me once the piranha achieve their “mega” status and start randomly popping out of the water to attack buildings, chew on people, and commit suicide on lighthouses. This whole sequence works in a big, big way and is both chaotic and hilarious. This is also where the true B-Level acting of Tiffany and the dude who plays Finch (Paul Logan) shines. There’s something to say about how flat a character delivers a line, or how they can’t choose the right tone for a scene. I don’t know what that “something” is, but it’s definitely worth noting.
Overall, fans of these campy “giant, mutant animal” flicks will have a good time with Mega Piranha. It has the acting you’d expect, a story that doesn’t make sense, and CGI that’ll make Attack of the Clones look like Star Wars. I never thought I’d say this in a review, but in the battle of 80s teen pop sensations who now act in movies opposite big ol’ creatures, Debbie Gibson’s turn in Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus is definitely better than Tiffany’s Dr. Monroe in Mega-Piranha. And they both play scientists. Cast from the same mold I tell ya.
Alyx Ancira “Alyx Ancira is a Chicago based freelance writer and has written for various movie related websites. He’s also a veteran of three wars including War of the Worlds, WarGames and Casualities of War.”
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