Thursday, May 27, 2010

TOOTH FAIRY (2010) (Blu-ray)

Written by Pirata Hermosa

Derek Thompson (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) was once a major league hockey player, but only briefly before a shoulder injury sent him back to the minors for recuperation. After nine years he finds himself more of a sideshow as he has been unable to get back into the NHL and instead is known as “The Tooth Fairy” for his rough play and his uncanny ability to knock out the teeth of his opponents.

While Derek revels in the small amount of fame that his violent play has awarded him, he is truly an unhappy person. He no longer believes that he will make it back into the pros and takes it out on everyone: his opponents, his fans, and even on his girlfriend Carly (Ashley Judd) and her two kids, Randy (Chase Ellison) and Tess (Destiny Whitlock).

His poor behavior begins to affect his relationship with Carly when Tess looses a tooth and he almost tells her that there is no tooth fairy. But after he swipes her tooth-fairy money from under her pillow for his poker game, he finds himself in serious trouble, not only with his girlfriend but from the tooth fairies that send him a summons for “disseminating disbelief” and being a “murderer of dreams”.

After scoffing at the summons and heading back to sleep, Derek discovers that it wasn’t a joke as he finds himself dressed as a fairy and transported to the tooth-fairy headquarters. As punishment for his crimes, he is sentenced to two weeks of tooth-fairy duty and is paired with Tracy (Stephen Merchant) who will supervise his training. While the trainer and student dislike one another from the moment they meet, they must both learn to work together so Derek can complete his work and perhaps become a better human being.

Before watching this film I expected to see just another silly kids’ film where they take a strong powerful man and dress him in ridiculous clothes just for the cheap laughs. While there is a little bit of that in the film, there is a lot more than just silly tricks. It is definitely a film catering to children, but there are some good lessons that are taught about following your dreams, and surprisingly enough you can even find some good acting.

It’s obvious that Dwayne Johnson needs a lot more training in his acting career, but the performances by Billy Crystal as Jerry the crazy gadget maker and Julie Andrews as Lily the head of the Tooth Fairies make the film worth watching.

There are three discs in the pack. The first is the Blu-ray version, the second the regular DVD format, and the last is a digital version for download to your computer.

The Blu-ray is shot in a widescreen 1.85:1 ratio, with 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Both the audio and video are excellent and are most prevalent during the hockey scenes. You can literally see each sliver of ice flying off the skates as they fly around the rink. And when the crowd screams, you feel as if you are surrounded by thousands of fans but yet can actually pick out individual voices as well.

The Blu-ray contains some of the basic features that most discs contain: audio commentary by the director, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes look, and a gag reel. But I did find three things worth mentioning above all others.

“Tooth Fairy Training Center” - Basically this is an exercise class for children that is led by a fairy who has them do exercises that simulate some of the activities one might need to work on in order to become a tooth fairy, such as running from cats, leaping and flying, and throwing fairy dust. This might be boring for adults as they translate into jumping jacks, running in place, and leg lifts, but it’s a great idea to get kids interested and motivated to exercise.

“Fairyoke” - Derek and Tracy sing a duet to the song "Wind Beneath my Wing" while the words scroll along the bottom of the screen so you can follow along. Actually, singing may be giving them too much credit. They butcher the song badly. And it’s so bad that it is actually funny.

“Deleted Scenes” - There is one scene that should have been left in the film that was cut out. Towards the beginning of the film, a young boy who wants to some day be a professional hockey player comes up to meet his hero, Derek. And Derek destroys the kid’s confidence and crushes his dream. In the deleted scene, Derek stumbles onto the boy’s house as the tooth fairy and sees the kid’s room trashed, hockey posters ripped down, sticks broken, etc. Derek actually feels regret and leaves the boy a note to try and make amends. This was a mistake to cut this out of the film and should have been put in somewhere.

While primarily a film for kids, most adults will find Tooth Fairy entertaining enough to watch with them. And with the good, moral messages and the mini-fitness feature, it’s a fun and entertaining film that would be worth adding to your collection.

Article first published as Blu-ray Review: Tooth Fairy (2010) on Blogcritics.

Deadliest Warrior - Season One

Written by Fantasma el Rey

Airing on Spike TV and now in its second season, Deadliest Warrior is a show that pits two of history's most notable warriors against each other. With a team of professionals on set armed with the latest in computer and science technology the show is one of the best on Spike TV. A wonderful “what if” scenario with some surprises as to outcomes. Fans of history will appreciate the work put into making this show a good display of what each warrior was capable of.

Each episode is about 45-minutes long and highlights the skills of two different warriors. Good examples are "Apache vs. Gladiator," "Viking vs. Samurai," "Spartan vs. Ninja," "Pirate vs. Knight," "Shaolin Monk vs. Maori Warrior," and in a special episode "William Wallace vs. Shaka Zulu." Some cases seem like David vs. Goliath and the outcome seems cut and dried, which is not always the case as there are some surprise endings. Each warrior is represented by five or so of his best weapons, some not so well known. Some of these warriors carry into battle weapons made of bronze, iron, and steel (swords, knives, shields, helmets, and axes) while others carries simple weapons made from wood, stone, and others materials (clubs lined with shark teeth, spears with stingray-spiked tips, blow guns, and poisons of different types used in various ways) native to their homeland.

A core team of professionals is on site and run the show. They include Geoffrey Desmoulin (biomedical engineer), Max Geiger (computer programmer), and Dr. Armand Dorian (emergency-room doctor/trauma expert) while specialists of each warriors' customs, culture, and weapon usage are brought in to help conduct the testing. Each weapon and warrior is explained, and viewers see the weapon in use and get a chance to see the damage it can cause. The weapons are divided into categories: long range, mid range, close range, and special weapon. The weapons are demonstrated and tested against each other accordingly using replica human gel torsos filled with artificial organs and blood; pig carcasses are also used as their flesh is the closest to human. The latest technology is used in testing to capture speed, motion, and shock impacted on the body; all this comes into play in the final outcome.

After the demonstration, the damage is observed to see the potential injuries caused or if the blow is a kill, that’s where the trauma doctor comes in. The tests are discussed by the team who decide which weapons might have the “edge” in battle. After the tests are concluded and all the data has been inputted into a specially designed computer program that simulates 1,000 battles, a winner is decided. To make the show more interesting, we get to watch a recreation of what the battle may have looked like. These reenactments are actually quite well done and give a final look at how the warrior may have chosen to use his weapons against an opponent he has never seen before.

The episodes vary in same cases when it comes to the more modern “warriors” chosen to square off against one another: "Yakuza vs. Mafia", "Green Beret vs. Spetsnaz," and "I.R.A. vs. Taliban." These episodes differ slightly in testing for the fact that some of the weapons are firearms and explosives. The guns and rifles are tested pretty much the same way using the gel torsos while the explosives tests use the gel torso and devices used to check the blast and shockwave damage. The reenactments are also slightly different because the final computer analyses is conducted using groups of five against five, a good number to represent a “warrior” who usually never really fought one on one and works well in a small group.

It's a better show than I thought it would be, as the Spike channel, when it comes to their original entertainment, can be quite lame aside from the UFC events they show. They now have two good shows (depending on how one feels about pro wrestling) that keep me tuning in. The warriors and weapons are explained and displayed well while the expert team is informative and knowledgeable. Season One even has UFC veteran Chuck Liddell stop in as a special guest to help test some of the gladiators' weapons out.

The bonus feature on the three-disc set is “The Aftermath,” post-fight analyses that were broadcast on the Internet right after the episode was aired. "The Aftermath" usually runs about 10 to 15 minutes long and features a roundtable discussion with host Kieron Elliott. Max Geiger is present for most along with some of the specialists and experts from that night's episode. Questions are chosen from viewers who posted questions or opinions online and are discussed in the group. There are segments within "The Aftermath" that include the producers’ season wrap-up discussion as well as a wrap-up that includes Dr. Armand and Max. This is a good DVD set with a great bonus and is a series that can be watched, discussed, and debated over and over to further explore history's Deadliest Warrior.