Tuesday, September 7, 2010
After the movies have enjoyed over one hundred years as the nation's (and perhaps the world's) preeminent artistic entertainment, it can be difficult for a modern artist to find new images with which to populate his or her film.
I can say with no uncertainty that Piranha 3D contains many images I've never seen. Mostly ones I'd never thought I'd see. Not only is it one of the most ferociously three-dimensional pictures to date (it quickly dispels with the notion that subtlety is best), the audacity of even showing us half of the things we are shown is insane. What else is one to make of a woman pulled out of the water to reveal she's missing her lower half? Or another whose face is removed when her hair becomes too entangled in a motor blade? Never mind everything that happens to Derrick, the mastermind behind a Girls Gone Wild-esque empire whose fate is so outrageous and prolonged that I dare not spoil it here.
There reaches a point when the piranha attack goes full tilt that you really cannot believe they can top each new gag, and yet somehow they do. It should become a parody of itself, and perhaps to some it is, but I instead saw a filmmaker who took his chance to make a piranha movie and became dead set on giving us the best piranha movie he could possibly give. And boy does he. Every single scene involving piranha is invariably awesome. From the opening scene, which utilizes comic book aesthetics as well as any direct comic adaptation to depict the demise of an old man (who may be familiar to you), to the last (which I'll leave for you to discover), this is go-for-broke, give-them-what-they-came-for, old fashioned entertainment spectacle. And it's glorious.
And then you get this underwater photography that, in 3-D, is stunning. There are shots as intoxicating as some of the imagery Avatar provided, if more...forward about their intent. Let's just say it - two attractive members of the fairer sex get completely naked and swim around. When underwater, director Alexandre Aja smartly pulls the frame back to keep their entire bodies in frame and pushes them as far forward as current 3-D technology will permit him, resulting people just floating in the middle of the theater. And naked, clothed, underwater, in space, whatever - this is exactly what I've been hoping for from 3-D. I'm sick of this nonsense that the only good 3-D is the kind you don't notice. If you can make people fly through the air right in front of me, that's sure as hell worth the extra $3.50. That's true spectacle. I dream of seeing things that only 3-D will permit, of an auditorium totally enveloped in the environment. Believe it or not, Piranha 3D gets us a little closer to this reality.