Real Heroes
R0 - America - Waltzing Penguins
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (12th November 2014).
The Film

When a ruthless producer (Stu Hammill) pitches a reality show about a team of super heroes living together and fighting crime, hundreds of B-string super hero flocks to Hollywood to audition. With much difficulty, the producer narrows the cast down to six. The Water Warrior's (Lars Slind) secret power of communicating with fish is lame, but his abs will attract women and gay guys. Sable (Melissa Jobe) is flat-chested and on the wrong side of forty, but her fractious relationship with former sidekick The Vixen (Ilona Kulinska) promises much teen daughter drama. Daddy's princess Malibu Action Girl (Keila hamilton) who comes with her own theme song and custom-made Italian wardrobe contributes sex appeal and the diva quotient. Psychic Sam (Matt Palazzolo) is hired once he foresees big ratings for the episode in which the heroes are caught in "The Death Trap", and finally archer Big Shot (Hunter Smit) will satisfy the stupid, paranoid, and homophobic part of the audience. The dysfunctional group dynamic is high on drama but not so much on crime fighting. Just as the producer laments at the lack of anything interesting happening on camera, the team receives a missive about a missing scientist; but the only member of the team who leaps to action is Sable, whose initiative alienates merely her from the group's attempts at team-building (which includes The Water Warrior introducing Big Shot to shaving lotion and mousse, Psychic Sam fielding drinking game questions far in advance of asking, and Malibu Action Girl showing off her combat outfits and the special glittery weaponry her daddy purchased for her). As The Water Warrior, Big Shot, Psychic Sam, and Malibu Action Girl head out to a bar to "pick up" sidekicks and groupies, Sable fights off The Butcher (Tom Patrick) and discovers that mad scientist The Skull (Ginger Pullman), wrestler Titania (Verona Blue), and undead Necro-Nazi (Guy Klender) along with Hitler's brain are also involved in the disappearance; but to what end, and why would any of them be working together when their plans for world domination are usually so divergent? When the super heroes prove sufficiently disinterested in the caper, the quartet of super villains crash the heroes' lair and kidnap The Vixen and her new girlfriend Julie (Brianna Oppenheimer) to lure them into "The Death Trap".


Sharp and colorful, Waltzing Penguins' progressive, anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen transfer suits the reasonably slick photography, the comic book panel interludes, and the bright colors of the costumes while also exposing the shortcomings of the production. Edge enhancement is present, but in some shots it seems actually fitting, giving the actors an almost two-dimensional and harshly outlined look (but that's probably as much the camera and editing compression as much as the encoding).


Audio comes in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 mixes with some exaggerated sound effects in the surrounds, but it's not a particularly dynamic mix. The disc includes optional English, French, and German subtitles. The English ones contain more than a few spelling errors, so I can't imagine what the foreign subtitles are like.


The extras seem extensive, but they are mainly composed of several short promo videos used for the film's website as well as for drumming up interest and funding elsewhere on the internet. "The Sidekick Mystique" (11:02) in which Malibu Action Girl's sidekicks are interviewed by the show's producer, the four-part "The Water Warrior Workout" (7:06), and Big Shot's six episode "Desperately Seeking Sidekick" (10:56) are mildly amusing with some ropey improvisation on the part of the actors. More interesting are the "Meet the Heroes!" segments (15:16) in which the actors behind the characters of Titania, The Water Warrior, The Skull, Malibu Action Girl, - Psychic Sam, and Sable, as well as the sidekicks, the film's costumer, stunt coordinator, and the director (in three segments) - while not exactly candid in their assessments of the finished product since these were also for promotion - talk about their characters and the shoot.

The section "Things We Did for Money" (9:52) is fairly entertaining as director Keith Hartman - with the help of his cast - pitches his project for Kickstarter and other venues with conviction in an energetic yet tongue-in-cheek manner rather than the "I'm here, give me money" approach of some of filmmakers with more recognition and clout who take to crowd-funding. Some of his promos specify what the donators get back in return including a copy of the DVD, costumes or props, and vocal or visual cameos for different amounts. The disc also includes theatrical trailer (2:59) for the film, a slideshow (1:32) of the film's comic panels, and a start-up trailer for Hartman's comedy You Should Meet My Son!.


Standard keepcase packaging with a colorful and busy cast shot on the front cover and comic book-style layout combining stills, illustrations, and text.


A strange pet project that may be too cheesy for older viewers yet too adult for younger ones, Real Heroes does entertain and amuse, but will probably fair better as a streaming rental than on disc (however enthusiastic the DVD presentation).

The Film: C+ Video: A Audio: B+ Extras: C+ Overall: B+


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