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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Piranha 3D

By
Joseph P. McCarthy
Source: Catholic News Service

The link between committing sins of the flesh and becoming a victim in a horror movie was never more blatant than in the tall and tawdry fish tale "Piranha 3D" (Dimension).

Just as retribution awaits the film's most wanton characters, audience members who venture into its blood-filled waters seeking an escape will feel as though they're being punished. While the tone adopted is hardly self-serious or censorious, the story is cripplingly vacuous. There aren't enough ideas to make "Piranha 3D" remotely unsettling; and the lasciviousness and gore displayed are more wearisome than offensive or frightening.

"Babes, boats and bikinis" is one (mild) description of the scene at Arizona's Lake Victoria, where undergrads flock for their spring-break bacchanalia. This year, seismic activity causes a fissure in the lake bed that releases prehistoric fish with an appetite for slatternly coeds and the otherwise ethically challenged. In a rather pitiful homage to "Jaws," the first victim of these voracious creatures is a local fisherman played by Richard Dreyfuss.

Not only does Lake Victoria's sheriff Julie Forester (Elisabeth Shue) have to worry about the safety of the throngs of scantily clad visitors, her teenage son Jake (Steven R. McQueen) and his much-younger siblings Zane and Laura (Sage Ryan and Brooklynn Proulx) are also imperiled. Jake has shirked his baby-sitting duties to act as location scout for soft-core pornographer Derrick Jones. Jerry O'Connell sinks his bleached incisors into this role, which is clearly modeled on real-life "Girls Gone Wild" impresario Joe Francis.

Jones and the predatory fish have nothing on director Alexandre Aja's voyeuristic camera, which takes as much prurient delight in watching gyrating bodies in party mode as it does in showing them get shredded and dismembered.

Anyone hoping there might be a silver lining in the fact that 3-D technology is being used here for something other than an animated or science-fiction feature will be disappointed. The underwater action is generally murky and the special effects deployed above the surface are equally pedestrian. Stomach-churning makeup work is the only exception.

At the peak of the mayhem, Sheriff Forester gives the panicking hordes this obvious advice, "Whatever you do, don't go into the water!" Heed her counsel and refrain from jutting even a toe into this piece of exploitation cinema.

The film contains intense graphic violence, including a decapitation, numerous severed torsos, and other mutilated and dismembered bodies and body parts; full frontal female nudity; much groping and kissing, some of it same-sex; frequent profane, rough and crude language; repeated scenes of underage drinking; and an instance of drug use. The Catholic News Service classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
Joseph P. McCarthy is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.


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John Paul II: “Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978. <br /><br />Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology. <br /><br />Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin. <br /><br />Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong! <br /><br />He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its <em>Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World</em>. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later. <br /><br />Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations. <br /><br />He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria. <br /><br />The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope. <br /><br />“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, <em>Redeemer of the Human Race</em>. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.” <br /><br />His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that. <br /><br />One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier. <br /><br />In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. <br /><br />In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities. <br /><br />Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014. American Catholic Blog Lord, may I have balance and measure in everything—except in Love. —St. Josemaría Escrivá

 
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