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After a sudden underwater tremor sets free scores of the prehistoric man-eating fish, an unlikely group of strangers must band together to stop themselves from becoming fish food for the area's new razor-toothed residents.
For more about Piranha 3D and the Piranha 3D Blu-ray release, see Piranha 3D Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 9, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Ving Rhames, Elizabeth Shue, Christopher Lloyd (I), Eli Roth, Jerry O'Connell
Director: Alexandre Aja
» See full cast & crew
Piranha 3D Blu-ray Review
T&A and lots of gore in 3D make the world go 'round.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 9, 2011
Dying to get wet.
The wheel-of-remakes spins again, this time landing on Roger Corman's campy low-budget cult classic Piranha, and if there was ever a movie to target for a remake, this is it. It's not that the original was in any way bad -- it's actually quite good for what it is -- but there's plenty of room for excess and exploitation in an idea like this, and remaking smaller, less widely-known movies rather than going after the big boys of the world, like Psycho, seems the way to go if Hollywood's going to insist on eschewing originality for the foreseeable future. It's a win-win to redo a little nothing of a movie: it'll at least seem fresh to the casual moviegoer, and there won't be as vocal a crowd denouncing the project before it's even in theaters. No raped childhoods, no disregard for original intent, just a little harmless fun and a quick buck to be made, in this case by slathering the screen in perfectly-tanned and barely-clothed (and in some cases, nude) female bodies and spraying untold gallons of blood along the way for good measure. Indeed, this 2010 version of Piranha takes the old idea and milks it for all its worth and the MPAA will allow, the result a fun and cartoonish Horror movie that's not for anyone without an iron stomach.
It was just supposed to be any other spring break at Lake Victoria. "Babes, boats, and bikinis" was and always had been the theme; no harm, no foul. Combined with beer guzzling, wet t-shirt contests, and any other number of traditional wild-child festivities, the area seemed primed for another influx of cash and, other than a few unruly drunken students, a relatively hassle-free week of sun and fun and booze and sex. And then the beer bottle happened. When a local fisherman (Richard Dreyfuss) accidentally loses his beer bottle to the depths of the lake, a chain reaction frees thousands of hungry piranha from a long-ago sealed off underwater home. They eat the fisherman and are drawn to the unassuming partiers, most of whom are about to look like they've just stepped off the set of the latest Hostel movie. Local police Sheriff Julie Forester (Elisabeth Shue, The Karate Kid) has charged her teenage son Jake (Steven R. McQueen) with taking care of his two young siblings while she's out keeping the peace, much to Jake's chagrin as he'd rather be mingling with the barely-clad out-of-towners. Jake pays off his brother and sister to stay home and out of trouble and finds himself working alongside a filmmaker (Jerry O'Connell, Stand By Me) who specializes in spring break sleaze. All parties quickly come under attack from the razor-teethed baddies, and families aren't the only thing that's apt to be torn apart by the time the piranha have had their fill of human flesh.
Director Alexandre Aja's (Mirrors) Piranha indulges in several hackneyed Horror movie staples -- wild girls on spring break, characters as skimpy as the bikinis said girls wear, a weak plot, and enough gore to rival just about anything out there -- and is little more than depravity at 24 frames per second, but then again, that's the point. Piranha -- as vile as it may be -- sets out to gleefully entertain viewers who are mature enough to get the joke and play along. There's no secret as to what the movie is selling -- sex and violence -- and buyers of said wares definitely get their money's worth. When barely-dressed girls aren't dancing for the camera and getting their bra-less upper body sprayed down for a wet t-shirt contest or when big-bosomed hotties aren't swimming around naked, Piranha is tossing random body parts and half-eaten limbs, torsos, and heads around to such a grotesque extent that it becomes comical, the raw nastiness of the thing thankfully offset by an unmistakably playful nature. Even some of the special effects are laughably bad, adding to the charm, but it's clear that much of the budget went into making the gore look as realistic as possible. It's one wince-worthy shot here, one vomit-inducing kill there, making Piranha -- as intentionally humorous as it may be -- only for audiences with the strongest of stomachs. Be warned.
So Piranha is all about selling sex and gore, and the movie eschews everything else that most movies strive to incorporate, like a meaningful plot and well-developed characters. None of that makes it into Piranha, and it's not like it would have resonated, anyway. Piranha is all about pushing the envelope, and in that regard it's a success. What loose structure there is may be necessary, but even the most basic storytelling elements only serve to get in the way of the good stuff, even if it's meant just to hold the movie together and give the audience a break from the mayhem. Still, it takes too long to get going -- the first act is short on violence and heavy on set-up and wild lakeside spring break partying -- but the second and third acts more than make up for the sluggish start. Unfortunately, the movie does fall into the trap of bothering with faux tension; one example sees a young girl cut her foot in the water, the scent of blood attracting the deadly piranhas. No matter how far the movie might be willing to go, it's never in question that it won't stoop to showing a child being eaten alive, so all of the tension is effectively canceled before it even has a chance to get going. Still, one can't fault Piranha for trying. It's a success for what it does, and even considering some early pacing issues, the movie clocks in at a neat and tidy 88 minutes, the perfect runtime for a quick and dirty little sojourn into the fantastically excessive world of Saw meets Girls Gone Wild.
Piranha 3D Blu-ray, Video Quality
Piranha 3D is somewhat unique in terms of how it became a 3D title. Rather than shoot natively in 3D, Director Alexandre Aja chose to shoot in 2D with a 3D conversion during post production in mind, his every shot looking towards the conversion process and ensuring that the eventual 3D image would be of a high quality meeting his standards. Fortunately, his approach paid off. Piranha 3D doesn't compete with Avatar or the best digitally-animated 3D pictures, but it's a solid and exceptionally fun 3D transfer that's got just the right amount of punch to wow viewers and compliment the craziness that's packed into Piranha's 88-minute runtime. First, the transfer's general qualities. In terms of detail, color, and the like, Piranha's 3D transfer is practically transparent compared to its 2D counterpart. Detail ranges between good and exceptional; the transfer handles the sandy and rocky terrain around Lake Victoria quite well, while also revealing the intricacies of skin textures (of which there are many) and clothing (what little there may be) at a level that's on par with a high quality Blu-ray release. Colors still favor that yellow/orange tinge, which is reflected in flesh tones, a suitable choice for emphasizing the sun and fun of spring break and the ultra-violence of the Piranha attacks alike. Unfortunately, blacks appear a bit too dark and crush is evident in a few scenes, notably in chapter three as Fallon and Forester discover the first dead body. That's the only area in which the 3D drastically differs from the 2D version; slight banding is evident in 3D, as it was in 2D, but on the whole, the transfers are practically mirror images of one another, save for the darker and slightly crushing blacks.
As for the transfer's 3D attributes, Piranha enjoys far more hits than misses. The opening Dimension logo, as well as most of the on-screen titles and various objects scattered throughout the movie are prone to double imagery or apparent transparency, but such is the exception to the rule outside of text, which does nicely hover off the screen. The vast majority of the image is stable and natural, with solid, but not exceptional, amounts of depth evident in every scene. The transfer does a fine job of differentiating foreground and background objects and allowing viewers to gauge the spacing between in-frame objects. Underwater scenes fare quite well, no surprise considering that aquatic Documentaries are currently among Blu-ray 3D's most plentiful releases. Indeed, underwater photography and 3D seem to go together quite well, and Piranha is no exception. From the opening shots of Richard Dreyfuss' character being torn to pieces by the swirling mass of Piranha to any number of calm or violent and bloody scenes below the surface of Lake Victoria, the transfer presents a great sense of depth and distance in such scenes, as much, if not more so, than is evident above the surface. Piranha is also home to several gimmick 3D shots, some of which work, some of which don't, but all of which fit right into the good-natured fun around which the movie is built. When Sheriff Forester pulls her taser out early in the movie, it and her arm seem to extend beyond the screen, but when a character vomits off the side of a boat and onto the camera later in the movie, the effect flops in 3D. Arguably the film's most delightful moment comes when Ving Rhames' character chops up a wave of Piranha using an outboard motor, sending chunks of dead fish up into the air and directly into viewers' living rooms. Despite its non-native status, Piranha 3D is a strong, borderline exceptional, 3D transfer; Director Alexandre Aja's film leaves nothing to the imagination, and a 3D viewing only enhances the squirmy, grotesque fun factor the movie has to offer.
Piranha 3D Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Piranha's DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack is as aggressive as its bad guys, and rarely is the track not jumping with some sort of robust sonic activity. The track handles water elements quite well; whether the calmer flowing of water as heard during surface shots that allows the liquid to spread all through the soundstage or the heavy pressure of underwater segments that come with an immersive sense of depth through seamless surround usage and bass, Sony's lossless track does right by one of the film's most critical elements. Surrounds are used extensively throughout, not only in recreating various aqua environments but in delivering action sound effects, screaming swimmers, gunshots, explosions, and dance music. The track is constantly pulling listeners into the fun, supported by some potent LFE that adds plenty of punch to an already active soundtrack. Both the front and surround channels carry environmental atmospherics, whether buzzing insects in one nighttime scene or the general din of spring break -- chatty teens, background music, passing vehicles -- as heard in the calmer opening act. This is an all-inclusive, wonderfully immersive soundtrack that suits the movie well.
Piranha 3D Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Piranha 3D features an audio commentary track and a massive documentary that runs more than 30 minutes longer than the movie. Unfortunately, the 3D version lacks the deleted scenes, Piranha trailer and TV spots, and the deleted storyboard sequences found on the 2D-only version.
Piranha 3D Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
There's nothing fishy about this one. Piranha is a deviously fun little remake that's thematically vacuous and emotionally vacant, but it's hard to fault a movie with no class when it has so much fun being classless. Piranha is all about grossing out its audience and throwing in plenty of naked females along the way. It's a teenage boy's dream come true and a parent's worst nightmare. They don't get much more tasteless than this, but for audiences who want a dose of depravity without any of the guilt that comes with anything harder than this, well, Piranha's the ticket. Sony's Blu-ray 3D release of Piranha offers viewers a quality 3D experience, but at the expense of several extras. Fortunately, the documentary remains, but buyers will have to choose whether a few throwaway extras and the deleted scenes are worth the upgrade to 3D. Buyers of either release will enjoy the same high-powered lossless soundtrack. Recommended.
Piranha 3D: Other Editions
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