HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: PIRANHA 3D

CAST

Richard Dreyfuss (Tin Man)
Ving Rhames (Mission Impossible)
Elisabeth Shue (Hollow Man)
Christopher Lloyd (Back To The Future)
Steven R. McQueen (The Vampire Diaries)
Jerry O’Connell (Sliders)
Jessica Szohr (Ted 2)
Eli Roth (Inglourious Basterds)
Kelly Brook (Three)
Adam Scott (Kampus)
Riley Steele (Pirates II)
Richard Chavira (Desperate Housewives)
Dina Meyer (Birds of Prey)
Bonnie Morgan (The Devil Inside)
Paul Scheer (Year One)

Fisherman Matt Boyd is fishing in Lake Victoria when a small earthquake hits, splitting the lake floor and causing a whirlpool. Boyd falls in, and is ripped apart by a shoal of piranhas that emerge from the chasm.

Jake Forester is admiring attractive tourists as spring break begins. He reunites with his old crush Kelly Driscoll and meets Derrick Jones, a sleazy pornographer, as well as Danni Arslow, one of his actresses. Derrick convinces Jake to show him good spots on the lake for filming a pornographic movie. That night, Jake’s mother, Sheriff Julie Forester, searches for the missing Matt Boyd with Deputy Fallon. They find his mutilated body and contemplate closing the lake. This decision, however, is made difficult as two-thousand partying college students are on spring break, which is important for bringing revenue to the small town. The next morning, a lone cliff diver is attacked and consumed by the vicious, marauding piranhas.

Jake bribes his sister, Laura, and brother, Zane (Sage Ryan), to stay home alone so that he can show Derrick around the lake. After Jake leaves, Zane convinces Laura to go fishing on a small sandbar island. They forget to tie the boat down and are stranded in the middle of the lake. Meanwhile, Jake goes to meet with Derrick and runs into Kelly, who accepted Derrick’s invitation on board his boat, The Barracuda. Jake meets Crystal Shepard, another one of Derrick’s actresses, and cameraman Andrew Cunningham.  Julie takes a team of seismologist divers—Novak Radzinsky, Sam Montez, and Paula Montellano to the fissure. Novak speculates that the rift leads to a buried prehistoric lake. Paula and Sam scuba dive to the bottom and discover a large cavern filled with large piranha egg stocks. Both are killed by the piranhas before they can alert the others to the discovery. Novak and Julie find Paula’s corpse and pull it onto the boat, capturing a lone piranha, which they take to Carl Goodman, a marine biologist who works as a pet store owner. He explains that it is a highly aggressive prehistoric species, long believed to be extinct, and that the piranhas have survived through cannibalism. The species is able to vigorously devour its prey in seconds.
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Julie, Novak, Fallon, and Deputy Taylor Roberts try to evacuate the lake, but their warnings are ignored, until the piranhas begin to fiercely attack the tourists. Novak boards a jet-ski with a shotgun to help while Fallon drags people to shore, and Julie and Taylor try to get swimmers into the police boat. Almost everyone in the lake is either wounded, dismembered, or killed by the piranhas altogether, while the remaining surviving tourists escape. The party spot rapidly turns into a bloodbath.
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Meanwhile, Jake spots Laura and Zane on the island and forces Derrick to rescue them. Derrick crashes the boat into some rocks, flooding the boat’s lower deck and causing the boat to begin sinking. Kelly is trapped in the kitchen while Derrick, Crystal and Andrew fall overboard from the impact of the collision. Crystal is devoured, and Andrew escapes to shore unharmed. Meanwhile, Danni manages to get a partially eaten Derrick back on board, where he then dies.  Deputy Fallon makes a last stand, taking a boat motor and using its propeller to shred many piranhas, though he is presumed to be killed by the Piranhas. After the chaos settles, Julie receives a call from Jake pleading for help. Julie and Novak steal a speedboat and head off towards the kids. They reach Jake and attach a rope to his boat. Julie, Danni, Laura, and Zane start crossing the rope, but the piranhas latch onto Danni’s hair, causing her to lose her grip on the rope and fall into the water, where she is quickly devoured. The others make it across safely, but the rope comes loose. Using Derrick’s corpse as a distraction, Jake ties the line to himself and goes to save Kelly. He ties Kelly to him and lights a flare after releasing the gas from a pair of stored propane tanks. Novak starts the boat and speeds away just as the piranhas surround Kelly and Jake. They are dragged to safety as the propane tanks explode, destroying the boat and killing most of the piranhas.
Image result for piranha 2010Mr. Goodman calls Julie on the radio, and Julie tells him that they seem to have killed the majority of the piranhas. A horrified Goodman tells her that the reproductive glands on the piranha they obtained were not mature, which means that the fish they have killed were only the babies. As Novak wonders aloud where the parents are, the human sized-Piranha Queen leaps out of the water and eats him.

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This film was of course, filmed in 3D (there are two discs, one 2D, one 3D) with dismembered body parts and voracious piranhas coming at you in abundance. Strangely enough, I found that the 3D effects worked rather better in 2D and wearing the gasses provided was little more than a gimmick and made everything a bit monochrome. Still, it is all great fun and I enjoyed every bloody minute of it and, provided that you throw your artistic sensibilities out of the window, so, I am sure, will you!

REVIEW: SANTA CLARITA DIET – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Drew Barrymore (Charlies Angels)
Timothy Olyphant (Hitman)
Liv Hewson (Before I Fall)
Skyler Gisondo (The Amazing Spider-Man)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Ricardo Chavira (Desperate Housewives)
Mary Elizabeth Ellis (Masterminds)
Richard T. Jones (Terminator: TSCC)
Joy Osmanski (Samantha Who?)
Natalie Morales  (Wall Street 2)
Thomas Lennon (Balls of Fury)
Grace Zabriskie (Drop Zone)
DeObia Oparei (Moulin Rouge!)
Portia de Rossi (Scream 2)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
Andy Richter (Elf)
Kaylee Bryant (Legacies)
Patton Oswalt (Agents of S.h.i.e.l.d.)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Derek Waters (Hall Pass)
Ravi Patel (Grandfathered)
Patricia Belcher (Bones)
Ramona Young (Z Nation)

Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix is an odd and yet oddly simple series. Its creator, Victor Fresco, made his name with Better Off Ted, which played fast and loose with the conventions of the office comedy. In Santa Clarita, he attacks the family sitcom with the same stylized absurdity and mock naïveté. And zombies. Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant star as Sheila and Joel, married real estate agents with a teenage daughter, Abby (Liv Hewson). That changes when Sheila dies after an epic fit of vomiting and comes back to life full of energy, sexually supercharged and very, very hungry for human flesh.
drew-barrymore-timothy-olyphant-santa-clarita-dietIt’s a clever idea — zombification as the route to midlife rejuvenation. Rather than grow bitter and have affairs, Sheila sips human smoothies and gets happier. Her new joie de mourir even recharges her marriage with Joel, a former jock who has receded into a suburban ineffectualness symbolized by the flip-flops he wears around the cul-de-sac.
santa-clarita-diet-staffel-1-01-rcm992x0The first few episodes of “Santa Clarita Diet” do have a good amount of gore and the last third of the season fills out as the mystery and thriller. But there’s a stretch in the middle where Mr. Fresco and his writers have a lot of fun subverting the formulas of the suburban comedy. Family dinners require finesse (because Mom eats people). Abby is angry that her parents keep secrets (because Mom eats people). When told that a pedophile has moved in down the street, Sheila perks up, because she’s on the lookout for undesirable people she won’t feel guilty about eating.screen-shot-2017-01-24-at-10-05-38-amA funny premise and appealing performances take Santa Clarita Diet far. There are enough laughs to make this show bingeable.

REVIEW: SUPERMAN/BATMAN: PUBLIC ENEMIES

CAST (VOICES)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Tim Daly (Superman: TAS)
Clancy Brown (Sleepy Hollow)
Xander Berkeley (Terminator 2)
Corey Burton (Transformers)
Ricardo Chavira (Desperate Housewives)
Allison Mack (Smallville)
John C. McGinley (Highlander 2)
CCH Pounder (Avatar)
LeVar Burton (Star Trek: TNG)

LexCorp’s CEO, Lex Luthor, has been elected President of United States during a severe nationwide economic depression. Under his leadership, the economy begins to thrive, and he assembles a force of government-employed superheroes consisting of Captain Atom, Katana, Black Lightning, Power Girl, Starfire, and Major Force. Meanwhile, Superman and Batman maintain their distrust toward Luthor. The United States government discovers that a massive Kryptonite meteor is hurtling toward Earth. Instead of asking superheroes for aid and wanting to take credit for himself, Luthor decides to destroy it with nuclear missiles. Luthor arranges a meeting with Superman in Gotham City under the pretense of forming a pact. This results in a battle with the hired Metallo against Superman and Batman. Following the heroes’ escape, an unknown assailant kills Metallo.the-orville-4k-rg

On national television later that night, Luthor pins Metallo’s murder on Superman, using footage of their battle to implicate him. Luthor claims that the radiation being emitted by the meteor can affect Superman’s judgment, and he places a one-billion-dollar bounty on the Man of Steel.

While breaking into S.T.A.R. Labs seeking information on the meteor, Batman and Superman find Metallo’s remains and realize that intense radiation has killed him. An army of villains looking to collect on the bounty then attacks them. The army includes: Silver Banshee, Captain Cold, Icicle, Killer Frost, Mr. Freeze, Gorilla Grodd, Bane, Black Manta, Black Spider, Brimstone, Catman, Cheetah, Copperhead, Deadshot, Eclipso, Kestrel, King Shark, Brutale, Despero, Giganta, Girder, Lady Shiva, Mongul, Captain Boomerang II, Nightshade, Parasite, Solomon Grundy, and Shrike. After some effort, most of the villains are defeated. Captain Atom, who has arrived with Luthor’s superhero team to arrest Superman, defeats the remaining villains. All but Power Girl, whose loyalties are divided, attempt to capture the heroic duo. Superman creates a twister using his superspeed, and the two heroes escape with Power Girl.

In Metropolis, Power Girl admits that she feels unnerved by Luthor and does not believe Superman killed Metallo. Luthor’s superheroes catch up and the fight begins anew, this time with Power Girl aiding Superman and Batman. The Dark Knight realizes that Major Force killed Metallo under Luthor’s orders and goads him into admitting it in front of everyone. In anger, Power Girl punches him in the stomach with so much force that it ruptures his containment suit. Captain Atom, ashamed at his complicity in Luthor’s misdeeds, absorbs the energy, disintegrating Major Force and injuring himself in the process.

Meanwhile, Luthor’s missiles fail to stop the meteor when the sheer amount of radiation being emitted by it detonates them before impact. Amanda Waller later discovers that Luthor has secretly been taking a serum composed of liquid kryptonite and super steroid Venom since the last days of the presidential election campaign, making him lose whatever rationality he had left. Feeling disillusioned by his failure in destroying the meteor with his missiles, Luthor decides to let the meteor hit the Earth so that he may rule over what remains of society. Batman and Superman attempt to break into Luthor’s base of operations to retrieve data on the meteor’s radiation. They end up in battle with Captain Marvel and Hawkman, eventually emerging victorious with Power Girl’s (off-screen) aid. However, Luthor refuses to relinquish the data, going so far as to erase it from the lab computers. Waller gives them a copy, being disgusted with Luthor’s plans. Batman and Superman fly off to Tokyo to deliver the data on the meteor to the Japanese Toyman, who has already built a giant rocket-propelled spacecraft, intending to use it as a large missile to stop the meteor. Waller and the military then attempt to arrest Luthor, but he injects himself with more kryptonite steroid and dons a power suit. After escaping Waller and the military, Luthor follows Superman and Batman overseas.

After Batman and Superman arrive at Toyman’s base, he shows them the spacecraft, which resembles a giant, robotic composite version of Superman and Batman. With the data, Toyman is able to calculate the necessary reinforcements needed for his own rocket so it will not explode before impact. Unfortunately, the arriving Luthor neutralizes Power Girl, Superman and Batman, and then disables the rocket’s remote guidance systems so that it will not take off by itself. Having no other choice, Batman decides to fly the rocket himself, despite Superman’s protests. Though initially faring poorly against Luthor and his kryptonite power suit, the rage over losing his best friend allows Superman to gain the upper hand, and after an aerial chase leading them all the way back to Metropolis, he defeats him in the streets there. Batman succeeds in destroying the meteor, and Superman finds him alive and well in an escape pod.

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With the truth of Metallo’s death now public knowledge, Superman is cleared of the murder charge and Luthor is arrested and taken away to face trial and impeachment for his crimes. Batman then returns to Gotham while the Daily Planet’s star journalist, Lois Lane, arrives and happily embraces the Man of Steel.

Nonstop action start to finish. Great acting by all the three lead characters Batman, Superman and Lex Luther. The background musical score is also superb.It’s one of the best DC Original animated Movies ever and showed what kind of hard hitting stories can be told by animation today.

REVIEW: BAD TEACHER: THE TV SERIES

Kristin Davis, Sara Gilbert, David Alan Grier, Ari Graynor, Ryan Hansen, and Sara Rodier in Bad Teacher (2014)

 

MAIN CAST

Ari Graynor (For a Good Time, Call…)
Sara Gilbert (The Big Bang Theory)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Sara Rodler (The Future)
Kristin Davis (Atomic Train)
David Alan Grier (Jumanji)
Madison De La Garza (Desperate Housewives)
Grace Kaufman & Ari Graynor "Bad Teacher" CBS

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Richard Kind (Gotham)
Yara Shahidi (Alex Cross)
Madison De La Garza (Despertae Housewives)
Stuart Allan (Son of Batman)
Ciera Payton (Oldboy)
Brett Gelman (30 Minutes or Less)
Colin Hanks (King Kong)
Alison Miller (17 Again)
Virginia Williams (Fairly Legal)
Andrew Leeds (Bones)
Ricardo Chavira (Piranha 3D)
Lilli Birdsell (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Grace Kaufman (Man With a Plan)
Hal Ozsan (Jessica Jones)
Ashley Liao (Fuller House)
Keesha Sharp (Lethal Weapon TV)
Suzy Nakamura (Horrible Bosses 2)
Lauren Tom (Futurama)
Mo Gaffney (That 70s Show)
Jennifer Riker (Black Lightning)
Niecy Nash (Scream Queens)
Tate Ellington (Remember Me)

CBS’ adaptation of Bad Teacher throws so many talented people at the question of how to turn the Cameron Diaz movie into a TV show that it will inevitably come to a point where it’s at least relatively good, if not excellent. The show’s cast is headed up by the reliably entertaining Ari Graynor, who shows a surprising talent for being an amusing reprobate here, but she’s ably backed up by the likes of Ryan Hansen, Kristin Davis, David Alan Grier, and secret weapon Sara Gilbert—who’s basically playing her character from The Big Bang Theory, but with better lines. And the series has been brought to television by the writer Hilary Winston, best known for her work on Community and Happy Endings.bad-teacher-premiere-ratingsOne of the secrets of TV comedy is that nine times out of 10, if you just get enough funny people together and let them work at it long enough, they’ll come up with a reliably entertaining and funny show In its first three episodes, however, Bad Teacher isn’t quite there. It comes close on enough occasions that it’s an enjoyable watch, but it’s struggling with the question all sitcoms built around awful people struggle with: How do you find a way to make a terrible person not just funny but somehow identifiable to the audience? For Bad Teacher to work, the audience has to, on some level, want Graynor’s Meredith Davis to succeed in her quest of tricking the school she teaches at into thinking she’s qualified for her job. But because Meredith is such a superficial, shallow, and self-obsessed person, the show’s core ends up feeling rotten, even as its many surfaces are often hugely entertaining.The key change from the film version of Bad Teacher is that the sitcom turns Meredith into a fraudster who fakes her credentials, taking a middle-school job so she can hit on the rich fathers of her students. Winston leans heavily on her Community experience here, and she’s letting Meredith play a page right out of the Jeff Winger-playbook, in that she thinks this is only a temporary thing and doesn’t want to get too attached to her fellow teachers or students. The difference, however, is that if Jeff doesn’t get with the program, he only hurts himself. If Meredith continues down her path, she’s ostensibly depriving her young charges of a valuable education. It’s a problem Bad Teacher has yet to solve in its first three episodes, despite Graynor’s considerable talents at delivering flippant dialogue with a hint of acid wit.The answer to this is so predictable that it ends up shooting the show in the foot. Meredith, inevitably, will learn in every episode that she really does care about her students or fellow employees, and she’ll use her considerable life experience and street smarts to help them navigate the tricky labyrinths of social situations, even if she’s not giving them the best education in social studies. It’s a formula that’s worked for so long that it’s become threadbare, and Bad Teacher seems so perfunctory in its approach to this particular story point that the episodes inevitably run out of gas in their third acts. They’re much more amusing in the early going, when Meredith is misbehaving and the other characters are being kooky. Inevitably, Bad Teacher will reach a point—just as Community did—where its protagonist isn’t looking for an escape route from her situation in every sports car that pulls up to the school, and it will almost certainly be a stronger show at that point.Despite the structural problems, there are considerable delights in each one of these episodes. All of them contain a handful of belly laughs, and the dialogue is sharp and pointed even when it’s not riotously funny. Graynor is a treat, and the supporting cast surrounding her—both teachers and students—finds new notes to play in familiar types. Gilbert and Hansen, in particular, offer up new spins on the socially maladjusted nerd the hot girl takes under her wing and the stand-up guy hiding in plain sight whom the heroine will inevitably end up with. The show benefits whenever they’re on screen, particularly when they’re sharing the screen together as a couple of unlikely oddball friends. Surrounding adult actors with kids is always a gamble, but Bad Teacher has a bunch of unexpectedly funny 11- and 12-year-old students to offer quips and occasional sight gags. Even better, Winston and her writers seem to be quickly figuring out exactly what sorts of gags all of their talented actors are best at delivering, which is a good sign for the show’s long-term health. Plus, any time it seems like the show is introducing something that will be drawn out for seasons to come, it’s just as quickly dispatched. That’s encouraging as well.bad-teacher-premiere-ratingsSadly Bad Teacher lasted 13 episodes and was pulled very quickly, had the series been given time to shine, I believe it would of been a huge hit.