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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 and the Piranha Blu-ray release, see Piranha Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 7, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Ving Rhames, Elisabeth Shue, Christopher Lloyd (I), Eli Roth, Jerry O'Connell
Director: Alexandre Aja
» See full cast & crew
Piranha Blu-ray Review
T&A and lots of gore make the world go 'round.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 7, 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 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Piranha's 1080p high definition transfer is a good one, marred only by some fairly heavy banding that's evident in many underwater scenes. Otherwise, this is a solid image, one that features an overcooked and very bright color palette that sports an ever-so-slight yellow tinge but does do well in its sampling of the many-colored bikinis and other bright and festive hues seen around the spring break action. Even the blue water looks fantastic, but some viewers may be put off by what are overly warm flesh tones that favor a slight orange shade. Detail is quite good, too, as the transfer reveals all the complexities of faces in close-up shots while also handling sandy and pebbly waterfront terrain and the various manmade structures around Lake Victoria quite well. A fair bit of grain is retained over the image, giving the Blu-ray transfer a pleasant cinematic texture. Blacks tend to look a bit too murky, but otherwise, this is a fine transfer from Sony.
Piranha 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 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Piranha features a robust and lengthy assortment of extras, the collection highlighted by an audio commentary track and a massive documentary that runs more than 30 minutes longer than the movie.
Piranha 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 2D-only Blu-ray release of Piranha yields a quality technical presentation and a fair assortment of extras. Recommended for audiences who aren't afraid of extreme gore.
Piranha 3D: Other Editions
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Piranha Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Piranha 3DD Blu-ray - July 10, 2012
In September, Anchor Bay Home Entertainment will bring Piranha 3DD to Blu-ray. This sequel to 2010's Piranha follows the species of carnivorous fish from Lake Victoria to a nearby water park, where they proceed to terrorize the park's unsuspecting visitors. Piranha ...
• Piranha 3D Announced on 2D and 3D Blu-ray - November 2, 2010
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced that, on January 11, 2011, it will release Piranha on Blu-ray, in two editions: a 2D Blu-ray and a 3D Blu-ray which also includes the 2D version but reportedly misses out on some special features. This Weinstein Company ...
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