Piranha 3D Blu-ray review
Directed by Alexandre Aja
Written by Pete Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg
2010, Region B (UK), 88 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
Blu-ray released on 27th December 2010
Richard Dreyfuss as Matt Boyd
Ving Rhames as Deputy Fallon
Elisabeth Shue as Sheriff Julie Forester
Christopher Lloyd as Mr. Goodman
Eli Roth as Wet T-Shirt Host
Jerry O'Connell as Derrick Jones
Cody Longo as Todd Dupree
Steven R. McQueen as Jake Forester
Jessica Szohr as Kelly
Kelly Brookas Danni
Riley Steele as Crystal
Adam Scottas Novak
Ricardo Chavira as Sam
Dina Meyer as Paula
Paul Scheer as Andrew
Foreword on 3D:
Piranha 3D, the third Piranha film, is not a sequel to James Cameron’s 1981 Piranha Part Two: The Spawning, but rather a remake of Joe Dante’s 1978 original. Whilst the film was shot in 2D and converted to stereoscopic 3D for its theatrical run, it was always the intention that the movie would be shown in 3D.
This blu-ray double disc presentation offers three versions of the movie, to ensure that all viewers can see the film as intended. The standard 2D presentation offers the most conventional view of the film or, for the more adventurous, there are two pairs of 3D glasses in the pack to allow the anaglyph 3D version to be shown. Anaglyph 3D uses red and cyan lenses and a colour shift in the video to create the 3D effect. I did start to watch the anaglyph version but found that, despite the 3D depth of field being effective, viewing the film through the coloured lenses created a red/blue hue across the whole picture that made for uncomfortable viewing over time. It was also particularly difficult to make out details in the darker, underwater scenes using the glasses.
The final option for 3D is the stereoscopic version of the film, which is the closest technology to the 3D being used for cinema presentations. This version requires the user to have both a 3D enabled blu-ray player and television, unfortunately neither of which I possess, so the video information in the review is based on the 2D blu ray.
Note: Back in August I caught a cinema screening of Piranha 3D and these were my thoughts on the film at the time, which still ring true of the blu ray presentation.
It’s Spring Break in the town of Lake Victoria and every sun-tanned, busty beach babe is decked out in a bikini while every drunken jock over indulges in beer and leers at them. The beautiful people of the small town aren’t the only ones enjoying a break; an earth tremor has opened up a chasm that leads to a subterranean lake beneath Victoria, and a shoal of two million year old piranha have been released from the depths. Carnivorous fish and a lake full of thrashing party animals? It’s chow time.
It’s been some time since I’ve seen a film that exists for one reason and one reason only; to provide maximum entertainment for its target audience. It is simple, gory fun that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a 50’s drive-in double-bill. Sure, the titular fish are CGI and the movie makes use of modern 3D techniques but this is nothing more than a genuine, crowd-pleasing 90 minutes.
The credits for Piranha see Alexandre Aja taking the directorial reins, having previously delivered The Hills Have Eyes remake and Haute Tension (aka Switchblade Romance/High Tension) . Good to see that Aja can turn his hand to something tongue-in-cheek after the intensity of his earlier work. It’s also interesting to note that this marks Aja’s third remake, along with The Hills Have Eyes (2006) and Mirrors (2008).
While a good portion of the effects and underwater sequences are delivered by the aforementioned CGI, the formidable duo of Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger tackle the physical ones. A scene in the middle of the movie, where dozens of revelers are attacked in the water, provides the opportunity for the pair to shine. And boy do they shine. There’s more gore and carnage in this short sequence alone than you’d get in some entire films. Flesh is ripped, bodies disemboweled, limbs removed and the water churned to bloody foam as person after person is dragged from the melee, screaming and bleeding.
The “talent” comes in the form of the UK’s Kelly Brook, former squeeze of Jason Statham, and adult film star Riley Steele as a pair of glamour girls being shot on location for porn baron Derrick (Jerry O’Connel). Enlisting the help of local shyboy, Jake (Steven R. McQueen), as their guide, the group becomes the unlikely key characters for the film. There’s a bit of a side-story going on with a girl that Jake has a crush on, but this pales into insignificance when there’s Kelly Brook and Riley Steel doing naked underwater acrobatics.
Any horror fan that’s looking for the kind of gratuitous nudity and gore that last enjoyed a resurgence in the late ‘80s could do a lot worse than to check this out. No brain entertainment that delivers exactly what you expect.
Video and Audio:
I must admit to having let the whole high definition side of the home entertainment industry pass me by in recent years. After having a brief flirtation with HD-DVD it left me with the attitude to never become and early adopter again. So only in the last six months have I taken the plunge and invested in a blu ray player.
Piranha looks fantastic in all its high definition glory, being presented in this release in the original theatrical 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Video for the main feature is 1080p running at 23.98fps, with the extras in 1080i. The picture displays a small amount of film grain and the overall colours have a slightly aged look which was present in Aja’s remake of The Hills Have Eyes.
The DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack (downsampled to standard DTS through my amp) is incredible, providing well balanced audio throughout. One of the few times I’ve not had to adjust the volume between dialogue and action scenes in a movie.
As well as three versions of the film, there is also a vast array of behind the scenes featurettes (10 in total) and an audio commentary with director Alexandre Aja. The featurettes are broken down into, roughly, 10 minute segments and cover everything from the special effects used in the film to the 3D process. By far the standout of these is ‘Blood and Gore’ which showcases the work of KNB and explains how they have embraced CGI techniques to enhance their incredible practical effects.
*Note: The screenshots on this page are publicity stills and are not a reflection of the Blu-ray image quality.*