September 9, 2010

Catching Fish Using Extra Cheese

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The French. They always seem to know us better than we know ourselves. Piranha 3D is American as apple pie, replete with the sort of shameless indulgence that 3D films seem intent on exploiting. The director, the Paris-born Alexandre Aja, attacks the film with just enough maniacal glee that Piranha becomes a passable, self-aware mockery.

I won’t spend too much time on the nuts and bolts of the film, as Aja was kind enough not to get fancy on his audience. Piranha opens with an underwater tremor unleashing scores of curious little critters that promptly eat Richard Dreyfuss before moving on to all the sick bros and buxom babes littering the lake for spring break. The rest of the movie is a hodgepodge of gruesome deaths and T & A, pausing only occasionally to have a piranha dart out from the screen at the audience.

It’s a cheesy horror movie, definitely inducing a few “what the fuck” moments — my favorite is when a probably topless girl gets her face ripped off after her hair gets stuck in a speedboat motor. Typical. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t entertained throughout most of the movie, and while there wasn’t much between the blood and the boobs, Christopher Lloyd makes a great appearance as the grizzly old man who warns our heroes of the piranha’s power: “This is the original piranha!!!!” SHIT!

And while the dialogue, acting, structure, characters and logic may be a complete disaster, the real implications of Piranha come with the fact that it marks the end of the first wave of 3D films. As filmmakers came to understand the technology, this summer saw a sharp increase in the number of 3D releases. That, in turn, brought higher ticket prices, goofy glasses and a general lack of creativity to the moviemaking world. What we gain in producing and watching 3D movies is a much more visceral reaction to film … the image has a new level of connectivity, the actors are given greater clarity, and the movie is more powerful and exciting as a result.

But what gets sacrificed in return? Many if not all of the recent 3D blockbuster releases have been pieces of shit. Just to be clear. We seem to be forgetting that film need not be just pure entertainment, but can act as an artistic expression with the capabilities to elicit genuine emotions and ideas from the viewer that didn’t exist before. Instead, we’re  being given shiny plastic turds that verge on being inexplicably offensive. I mean, I know all this new technology is really exciting, but you wonder if a 10-minute naked mermaid montage is really the best way to put it to use.

There is hope, however. It seems inevitable that 3D technology will be commonplace within the next 10 years, and I’d like to think that this is just the film industry shaking out all its jitters, dreaming up absurd spectacles just to get a hold on what this stuff can really do. By the time most of our movie-going experiences are 3D, all the Piranhas and Clashes of the Titans will hopefully be relegated to a submissive secondary role. The artistic possibilities of adding another dimension to your work are limitless, and I plan on seeing some truly groundbreaking works come to fruition.

2 Towers

Original Author: Graham Corrigan