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Tony's Online Tips
Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
"America's Most Beloved Comic-Book Writer & Columnist"

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TONY'S ONLINE TIPS
for Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mega Piranha

I watched Mega Piranha on the SyFy Channel, which will come as no surprise to my friends and readers who oft express their dismay over my love of cheesy monster movies. I watched it with my cat Simba, who seems fascinated by movies wherein humans get eaten. I should probably be concerned.

Written and directed by Eric Forsberg, Mega Piranha is cheap fun cheese. In Venezuela, United Nations scientists work to increase the food supply by increasing the size of the food. Among their subjects are piranhas, who take to the experiment with such toothy glee that they must be destroyed. A bunch of them survive and start increasing their size exponentially as they make their bloody way towards civilization, stopping now and then to eat some swimmers and then an entire boat full of people. Yum.

By the time they reach cities and their beaches, the piranhas are as large as buses and powerful enough to launch themselves from the water and into buildings. Okay, they just sorta hang from the large holes they've made in those buildings and die from not being in the water, but I consider this silliness a fair price to pay for my delighted giggling.

The fish just keep getting bigger and stronger, becoming large enough to lunch on a destroyer, survive a nuclear missile strike, and, unlike real piranha, survive in the salty waters of the ocean. They are heading for Florida where things can only get worse unless our intrepid heroes can stop them. Simba looked like she wanted to both eat and cheer for the piranhas.

The special effects are your basic low-rent computer graphics. Most of them are things we've seen before, including a helicopter getting eaten, which is somewhat better than a similar scene in the recent Dinoshark, and a scene clearly inspired by a notable scene in Deep Blue Sea. On the other hand, the many scenes of giant piranhas jumping out of the water to one-gulp devour folks on land or make big holes in building were new to me and endlessly amusing...and a wee bit of amusement is all I require from the SyFy Channel's original movies.

Let's talk actors and characters for a bit.

Tiffany, yes, the jailbait pop singer from the 1980s, stars as researcher Sarah Monroe. I love her in this role. She's not much of an actress, but, face it, this isn't much of a role. There are two things about her and her character than won me over.

The lesser of these is her character's bloodthirsty reaction to the giant piranha. Monroe doesn't give us any of that "we must study these amazing creatures" crap. No. She wants to "kill them all" and even recommends using a more powerful nuclear missile on them. I want her on my side.

The other and way cooler thing is that Tiffany is no longer a jailbait pop singer from the 1980s. She's not even your standard glamourous and skinny woman scientist. This lady has some meat on her bones and some age on her face, which makes her more real than most actresses in these movies. Nor does her appearance impede the romantic undercurrents between her and the hunky super-soldier who plays opposite her.

Paul Logan plays hunky super-soldier Jason Fitch with his jaw resolutely firm. But there's an element of parody to the character that adds to the fun.

Barry "Greg Brady" Williams is Secretary of State Bob Grady, who apparently has the power to authorize nuclear strikes on part of Venezuela and Florida. Here's another plus for this wacky film: a government official who isn't a douche bag and who actually has a good grasp of the situation.

David Labiosa chews a great deal of scenery as Colonel Antonio Diaz, a nasty guy trying to cover up the jungle-based activities of an off-stage drug cartel. Since this struck me as intentionally bad acting, it didn't bother me.

The rest of the cast was nicely diverse in age, race, gender, and body type. As with the casting of Tiffany, this added a sense of reality to the movie.

While neither the basic story or the script are award-winners, they were sufficiently entertaining. The action started early on, the peril kept increasing, and the nick-of-time solution to these monster fish didn't come from out of nowhere and made for a pretty satisfying conclusion to the menace.

Mega Piranha was better than expected. It delivered two hours of fun and held my cat's interest to boot. That earns it a respectable three out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony

Coming soon are two more SyFy original movies that I'll almost certainly watch:

Mothman stars Jewel Staite of Firefly fame and will debut on April 24. The legendary West Virginia monster seeks revenge on childhood friends who covered up an accidental killing. I'm hoping it features more Mothman and less I Know What You Did Last Summer stuff.

Premiering May 8 is Mongolian Death Worm. Here's how the press release describes it: "A treasure hunter who has been searching for a tomb containing Genghis Khan's treasure teams with a humanitarian UN health worker to stop the Mongolian Death Worms, awakened by experimental oil drilling in the Mongolian desert. Stars Patrick Flannery and Victoria Pratt."

Also on tap, but unscheduled at this time: Sharktopus, Red, Lake Placid 3, Scream of the Banshee, Morlocks, and The 8th Voyage of Sinbad. Mock me if you will, but I get a kick out of this stuff.

Not to mention quality time with my cat.

That's all for now. Thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 04/13/2010 | 04/14/2010 | 04/15/2010 >>

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THE "TONY" SCALE

Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

Tony
ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

TonyTony
TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

TonyTonyTony
THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

TonyTonyTonyTony
FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

TonyTonyTonyTonyTony
FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.



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