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‘Tooth and Nail’ is all kinds of bad beautiful

2010/05/14

Okay, since we’re at ‘Instant Watch Review Number Two’, perhaps it’s a good time to set up the boundaries:  In short, all reviews based in the nebulous grey that is ‘Instant Watch’ are going to be reviewed on their merits within their homeland.  In other words:  this is an offering that is essentially ‘free’, so let’s regard it as such a bonus.  Where our reviews differ from the Netflix review system is essential – and one that applies to all of AnOrdinaryMatt reviews:  we work on an understandable scale.  ‘1 to 10’ is entirely too vague;  ‘Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down’  is insulting at this point (no offense to Roger Ebert, still the best American film reviewer); and Netflix’s own scale of five is as unhelpful as a system could possibly get.  So we, from here on out, are rolling with a scale of 1 to 7, and you aren’t gonna see that many sevens.  And in this particular area, the one pointing you to things on the ‘free’ plain, you’d be best served to remember that many movies get a lot more enjoyable the less money is spent seeing them.  

Also, we won’t be putting ridiculous ‘spoiler’ warnings in front of all these things.  It’s not something you can’t have already seen, here, kids.  Don’t read a gd review if you don’t expect to be told a few points, that’s all.  We might be more careful on the rare occasion there’s an assessment made of something ‘new in the theatres’, but outside of that, caveat emptor baby, caveat emptor.  

In addition, it’s good to remember at all times that the reviewers you’re reading have their mortal weaknesses.  For me, ‘death roulette’ guarantees at least a four on the free-and-enjoyable scale.  More frantically, ‘set in an apocalyptic wasteland’ will most certainly get the makers at very least a three-point-five.  I can’t help it.  I likes what I likes.  And it’s weirdly specific when it comes to ‘life after the world we know it is gone’.  

So we come to an offering named ‘Tooth and Nail’.  

See, a lot of people that make movies think that survival is primarily based on finding water, planning to repopulate, and figuring out how to make nunchuks out of old machinery parts.  These people are wrong.  

It’s about building clothing that is also lethal weaponry. That will add to the much-needed humor in the wasteland, as there will be no end to the ‘Malachi accidentally beheaded Diamelle with his forearm blades when they were gonna get it on behind the ammo dump. And then he shot himself in the head with his own wrist arrow when he grabbed his head in anguish and shame. Stupid douche, I told you he shouldn’t be in charge of the water’.  That kind of execution is the gold that Robin Williams cries himself to sleep wishing he hadn’t coked himself out of thinking up twenty-five years ago in his sleep.   

So let’s get to the heart of what I found in ‘Tooth and Nail’:  

1) Let’s say the budget for this was 17 million and took 40 days to shoot – I think that’s a fair estimate, give or take 5 in either direction. In your estimation, rounding to the nearest 100 grand, how much more do you think Robert Carradine, Michael Madsen and Vinnie Jones make for their combined three days on set than the rest of the cast and crew did for the whole shoot? Because they’re the ones on the splash page, the cover, and all things selling this madness.  And in addition, they are also, combined, responsible for about twenty total minutes combined of screen-time in a movie that goes a long ninety-four.  

Excellent bait-and-switching, producering-folks.  I guessed the wrong shell every time here.  

2) I was glad to see the ‘Rambo-face-paint-montage’ make a brief comeback within this masterpiece, however, would it have been possible to maybe put Dakota (our heroine) in a pair of pants that didn’t look like they were off a Montgomery Ward’s rack from 1978?  

3) As the entire plot structure was directly lifted from ‘Aliens’, it probably would have been a good call to just name the weird silent kid ‘Newt’ to save me from spending any time paying attention to what she was up to during the exposition, as I would have already known where it was going, and could have spent more time concentrating on the sad ‘Road Warrior homage’ costuming.  

4) I know that at the core of these movies, the crescendo is only successful if we see Ripley – um, I mean, the female protagonist, develop from the confused mousey follower into the precise, calculated bad-ass (thus providing a nice analogy for the core values of true equality and some would argue, feminism)…..however, even when still mousey the protagonist is usually still the smartest one.  

With that said, why doesn’t Dakota (or Viper [the ‘Xander in this beauty’], for that matter) even for a moment think ‘maybe we should take these arrows out of these dead guys, in case we maybe need them later for more killins’? On this note, they also leave behind a perfectly good double-sided axe with Madsen’s body, as well as the wasteland-standard-issue ‘ballbat with spikes in it’ when Viper rescues Dakota from her industrial-factory-prison. Think, people – the WalMarts in your world are officially closed, how about making-do?  

Vinnie J finalizing his '3 Day Shoot for 300k' contract

 

5-6)  You should notice that Vinnie Jones only appears with other Rovers in one total scene – when Dakota is ‘hiding’ beneath the plate-glass window? Doesn’t even show up at any of the chow-time trumpets with everybody else….just rude. He also never gets to use his bad-ass modified scythe weapon, which is wrong. Also, why, whenever running to hide, does Dakota consistently run into empty rooms or spaces with no escape routes possible? Happens at least three times….as if she has no lay-of-the-land knowledge of the hospital where she HAS BEEN LIVING FOR MONTHS.  

All in all, ‘Tooth and Nail’ is an atypical knockoff of ‘Aliens’ that I would have expected to see in 1998.  However, the fact that it was made in 2007 only increases it’s greatness in the ‘Instant Watch’ universe….I am unduly impressed that somebody got a budget to make this in the first place, let alone one that afforded three throwaway payoffs in Madsen, Jones and Carradine.  I have to recommend this one, with as middling a ‘3’ on  the Instant Watch scale as possible.

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