Friday, 19 October 2012


2010, US, Directed by Alexandre Aja
Colour, Running Time: 88 minutes
Review Source: Blu-ray, Region B, EIV; Video: 2.39:1 1080p 24fps 3D, Audio: DTS HD

An earth tremor releases from beneath the ocean thousands of prehistoric piranha with a particularly ferocious carnivorous attitude towards humanity, just as Lake Victoria, situated nearby, is entering into its party season as hundreds of promiscuous American teens with great bodies consume alcohol and abandon all respect for peace (and themselves). Aja's second remake of a classic seventies American B movie (the first being the rather brutal Hills Have Eyes), Piranha has its tongue in cheek and is spattered with homage to exploitation cinema - both in its contemporary form and the glory days - from the outset, including Richard Dreyfuss murmuring the tune he sung in Jaws (before being stripped of all flesh in the prologue), a cameo from Hostel director Eli Roth, and mountains of extreme (but fun) gore interspersed, surprisingly, with copious nudity. The film is not subtle, nor is it original, nor does remotely attempt to apologise for any of this. It does apparently boast remarkably high production values considering it's aiming itself firmly at the primordial instincts of its intended audience, with a great look, underwater sequences, soundly executed action set pieces, lots of digital and prosthetic effects (not all of which are entirely convincing, but that doesn't seem to matter in the context), some decent actors (amongst them, Ving Rhames, Christopher Lloyd and Elizabeth Shue - notice I haven't included Kelly Brook in that list!), and of course the fact that it was shot/mastered in 3D, which isn't cheap. There is a touch of anchoring the narrative on a main man, this being TV star Steven R. McQueen as Jake (here reminding me a little of the uptight Lee Montgomery character in Mutant), the nerdy boy who's inevitably going to become some sort of unlikely hero by the close credits. Despite this the film spends as much time as possible on everything else, namely fish ripping people apart and hordes of chiselled human bodies with little or no clothes covering them. And, boy, do these people deserve what they get! I am a bit sick of remakes nowadays but this one cooks up loads of enjoyment, from thrills to laughs, and I think you'd have to be in a pretty miserable mood not to have a nice time.
The Blu-ray serves up every conceivable viewing option, from conventional 2D, anaglyph 3D and Real 3D, the latter requiring appropriate 3D equipment of course (this being a 3D TV/projector, a 3D Blu-ray player, and a v1.4 HDMI cable). The anaglyph version can be viewed on conventional Blu-ray equipment, but it's really not worth it - whilst there is a 3D effect evident, the technical nature of the process (i.e. red'blue cardboard glasses, of which EIV have kindly supplied several pairs!) renders the natural colour scheme of the film a complete mess. I've viewed the 2D version in its entirety and the visuals look wonderful from start to finish, of particular note being the unbelievably vivid colours and immense detail. Having now acquired the aforementioned 3D equipment I've finally got the opportunity to watch the 'proper' 3D version. Thankfully the aforementioned vivid nature of the 2D presentation is retained, but the added third dimension really makes this dazzle! There is the odd flaw (for example, cross-talk, where one eye mistakenly picks up the image intended for the other eye, plus some fast moving material that's difficult to perceive properly) but generally this is a powerful experience, enhancing the somewhat limited essence of the source material. Two English audio tracks offer surround DTS-HD Master Audio to lift you out of your chair if you have a 5.1 or 7.1 set-up, or two channel Dolby Digital, which sounds unexpectedly good on a reasonable sounding TVset (I've listened to each track on a decent surround kit and a TV respectively). A stupendous showcase for Blu-ray overall, and a film that's not taking itself entirely seriously in its efforts to roll you along its kinetic rollercoaster ride. Hell, looking at the poster attached, even the German's seemed to get it!

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