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Piranha 3D

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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Columban: Columban was the greatest of the Irish missionaries who worked on the European continent. As a young man who was greatly tormented by temptations of the flesh, he sought the advice of a religious woman who had lived a hermit’s life for years. He saw in her answer a call to leave the world. He went first to a monk on an island in Lough Erne, then to the great monastic seat of learning at Bangor. 
<p>After many years of seclusion and prayer, he traveled to Gaul (modern-day France) with 12 companion missionaries. They won wide respect for the rigor of their discipline, their preaching, and their commitment to charity and religious life in a time characterized by clerical laxity and civil strife. Columban established several monasteries in Europe which became centers of religion and culture. </p><p>Like all saints, he met opposition. Ultimately he had to appeal to the pope against complaints of Frankish bishops, for vindication of his orthodoxy and approval of Irish customs. He reproved the king for his licentious life, insisting that he marry. Since this threatened the power of the queen mother, Columban was deported to Ireland. His ship ran aground in a storm, and he continued his work in Europe, ultimately arriving in Italy, where he found favor with the king of the Lombards. In his last years he established the famous monastery of Bobbio, where he died. His writings include a treatise on penance and against Arianism, sermons, poetry and his monastic rule.</p> American Catholic Blog Jesus was never a careerist or a glory-monger; he did not demand to be hailed as a king or lauded as a hero. He came to live among us, to suffer with us, and to serve us from the heart. He came to teach us how to love.

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