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Piranha 3D

Five StarsWithout question, the greatest piranha film ever made,
 Alexandre Aja's visionary masterpiece is also a profound study of terrorism. 

    The film begins with a direct homage to Steven Spielberg's Jaws and, indeed, the two are very comparable in several aspects. Besides the more obvious similarities, Piranha is also notably reminiscent of the classic film for caring as much about its characters as it does its creatures. Unique yet relatable, entertaining but also realistic, subtle and yet still captivating; the people who inhabit this fictional story are the soul of the film. And they are brought to life convincingly by the film's all-star cast. Christopher Lloyd breaks type by playing an eccentric old man with a vast expertise in a scientific area; Jerry O'Connell redefines our very idea of charisma by channeling Joe Francis; Steven McQueen, like the icon that was his grandfather, rejects dialogue in favor of displaying the emotive detail of his face; and, in the jewel role of the film, the always sublime Kelly Brook delivers the most powerful performance of her career. Surprisingly unconventional, she plays her morally questionable "Wild Wild Girl" character with a unique mix of knowing flirtatiousness and an endearing, down-to-Earth kindness that can only be described as charming.  

Arguably the best acting performance for a female in 2010, 
here is one of Brook's more impactful scenes.

    But it's not just character-depth offered by Piranha 3D. Again, like Jaws, the movie is really about something much more deadly than any type of marine wildlife. And, although still a direct decedent of Jaws, in this regardPiranha 3D is actually the more evolved organism. A more relevant fish, behaviorally adapted to reflect the realities of our changing world. The once socially resonant tropes of the traditional aquatic thriller now often lack the ability to convey our more contemporary societal fears. Cliche Jaws-esque elements like suspense (advanced knowledge of threat), tension (a persistent feeling of conflict), intricate plot (offensive/defensive strategy), and plausible action (conventional war) are all relics from a previous era in our history and Piranha 3D makes the smart move to abandon them. Instead, arteur director Alexandre Aja seeks to capture that new fear which rose to dominance in Western civilization ten years ago: that of an uncontrollable chaos that, without warning, is always capable of reaching out and destroying our otherwise normal lives. 

Let's explain:

    Released in 1975, Jaws was the of the story of ordinary, plain folks struggling against a lone, giant, powerful force that, although slow, seems unstoppable in its assault on a town's July 4th-centered capitalistic economy. In essence, it is a propagandist allegory for the Cold War. 

    Conversely, in Piranha 3D, the physical threat is not embodied as one, large entity. It is many. And the primary effect of it's deadly feeding frenzy, is not the disruption of an economic boom, but the punishment of hedonistic college kids during our culture's annual peak in moral decadence: Spring Break. Its agents are easily dispatched, yet always replenished. It's forces are without measurable structure, but unified in vast, collective like-mindedness. Their individual bites are small but very savage. The nature of their chaos seems almost absurd, and yet the horrors they inflict are still vivid. 
    The dangers in Piranha 3D cannot be thwarted or stopped. They cannot be predicted or anticipated. They can only be survived. They are the dangers of the modern world, where, you won't die in a war with a foreign military, but, instead, you will be killed by random swarms of shoe-bombers.  

Author Redux
Woa, woa, woa. Wait a sec. I just watched the movie a second time, and I have to say, I totally missed the point. All that "the story is focused on character" and "piranhas represent terrorists" stuff isn't quite right. Yeah, this movie isn't about any of that. No, no, it's definitely about killer fish. Oh, and naked chicks. Yeah, that sounds right. Piranha 3D is about killer fish and naked chicks. 

It's still gettin' five stars. 

Official trailer