Wednesday, January 12

Some quick thoughts on Piranha (2010) on 2D Blu-ray

Alexandre Aja and Grégory Levasseur's re-imagining of Joe Dante's perennial 1978 B-flick classic.

Piranha (or Piranha 3D) is a difficult horror film to talk about at length. Director Aja's latest, after the mammoth misfire Mirrors, is like trying to build a house of wafers on a pre-existing slightly thicker cracker foundation. Dante's original was essentially designed to capitalize on the immense success of Jaws on the cheap. This 2010 reincarnation was designed to ride the wave of what is now the wishy-washy resurgence of high tech 3D. So the story is a shallow ninety minute rollercoaster, the acting only serves this surface, and it's over before you realize nothing much happened. Although that doesn't mean Aja's third horror remake isn't tremendous good fun and to be hard on it would be comparable to complaining about how a patch is slightly off symmetry on the coat of otherwise lovable puppy. Just like the original.

It's funny how Piranha manages to be a B-flick, a homage to B-flicks, and yet simultaneously not really feel like a B-flick. Aja (and Levasseur) obviously loves the genre and has a knack of adapting his anamorphic scope-happy style to the given material. The director's razor-like calculation is applied here to a perpetually sunny Lake Havasu locale on Spring Break with his editor of choice, Baxter, again complimenting his work. These talents lend a certain credibility and professional sheen to what could have otherwise been another also ran animals-run-amok cult number (think the much-overhyped Snakes on a Plane). KNB EFX are back on-board after The Hills Have Eyes and Mirrors for gore duties, watch for the Nicotero walk-on, and knock the incredibly grisly practical effects out of the lake. It's amazing the MPAA allowed so much carnage into an "R"; bodies are torn in half, eyes plucked, scalps motorboated, and corpses eviscerated in crimson depths by prehistoric killer fish generated in computer bits.

There's also heaving breasts galore with three adult film actresses (Riley Steele, Gianna Michaels, Ashlynn Brooke) gloriously whoring it up for your crotch's enjoyment. Especially Steele, who one can easily see has zero body hair below her eyebrows, diverting attention away from the equally nude, but carefully angled/shadowed Kelly Brooke. Richard Dreyfuss echoing Jaws, Christopher Lloyd echoing Doc, and Eli Roth echoing the asshole you just know he actually is only help this innocuous slice of brainlessness. Easily recommended for a Saturday night of monster horror delights. A real "re-imagining" that doesn't disrespect the '78 source, but celebrates it by updating everything else except its heart. Though I do miss the frenzied "biting" sound effect that accompanied attacks in Dante's original.

As for the 2D Blu-ray, it's probably for the best Sony handled the distribution end instead of The Weinstein Co. since Sony usually does wonders with the high def format. The picture quality on this 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded 2.39:1 widescreen transfer is consistently excellent. The colors have been massively tinkered with, so everything has insanely elevated contrast and fleshtones always look orange or very flush, but detail doesn't seem to suffer at all. I did notice a strange "doubled-picture" anomaly at the part where Todd's little sister steps on a bottle shard when stuck on that island with her brother. Just before that, she waves her arms in the air and just then for a few seconds the picture appears slightly misaligned like it's in 3D...somewhat. Piranha was converted to 3D in post-production and I definitely have the 2D-only BD, so I have no idea what could have caused such an issue. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is excellent, registering incredibly deep bass with all the booty-thumping party music and thick underwater reverb. On a final note, like on Resident Evil: Afterlife's BD, there's skippable trailers for a few seemingly out-of-place and awful looking DTV flicks upon the disc's start.


FearShop Mike said...

I just found Piranha to be fun. It was a great time in the theater, but have not had a chance to catch it at home yet (probably tonight). I could have done without the 3D, but it did not hurt it IMO.

DrunkethWizerd said...

I liked this one too. Though, I hope Aja will direct another non-remake. High Tension 10/10. The rest, not as much, but I dig em.

The Man-Cave said...

I am on the "pro" side for this flick which was fun (the feeding frenzy scene and Kelly Brook alone gets thumbs up from me), but like you said - it paid homage to the original and the other b-films but didn't feel like one. But aspects like the countless character parodies just made this film for me which was way better than the other remake of it. I don't care if William Katt and Mila Kunis were in it or not.

the jaded viewer said...

You hit the nail on the head with "It's funny how Piranha manages to be a B-flick, a homage to B-flicks, and yet simultaneously not really feel like a B-flick."

If we were given a horrible 80s B flick, we would scream "this is crap". I kinda wanna see a fun flick that even though it comes from a terrible 80s film, it just seems popcorny 3Dish fun.

-Lou said...

Still haven't gotten to this one yet. The problem I have with 3-D is that when watching the 2-D versions, its hard not to notice scenes that just scream "I wouldn't even be here if this wasn't a 3D movie." But as a fan of the original, I'm sure I'll cave in fairly soon... you dare tread upon the staircase?

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