Monday, December 27, 2010
Review: The A-Team
There are two kinds of people who went to see The A-Team last summer: those who loved the show, and those who had never seen it before but knew that Mr. T was in it, and also, that he pitied quite the fool. And even though I was born the same year the show premiered and have had access to the internet to watch it over the years, count me in the latter category. That being said, for a casual action nut who wasn’t head-over-heels for the show, The A-Team, in hindsight, was the greatest balls-to-the-walls action movie of the summer. I don’t know how the fans of the show felt about it, but I hear that they hated it. And all I can ask is, “How?” From the clips I’ve seen of the show, both it and the movie look like they were meant to be live-action cartoons. And how could you possibly go wrong with that?
The Movie: Four stars
Last summer, two big action movies came out. Both were supposed to cater to those who grew up in the '80s and liked explosions and the shirtless men who caused said explosions. One was The A-Team, which, for all its ridiculousness and action, didn’t seem to quite find the audience that it deserved. The other was The Expendables, which found quite the audience but didn’t really deserve it at all. What separates the two is that one is fun and features a tank shooting itself to safety while plummeting out of the sky. The other features Detective Sergeant Angel Juan Marcos Batista from Dexter as a general (here pronounced “Hen-er-al”) and also, as Katey Rich pointed out, Mickey Rourke crying in a mirror. The line of quality is clear here: The A-Team was good, and The Expendables was not so good, even if it did include Arnie, Sly, and Bruce in a scene together for, like, two minutes.
But why was The A-Team so good, you ask? Well, that’s easy -- Big. Stupid. Action. While The Expendables was definitely big and stupid, it wasn’t a capital Big or a capital Stupid. Instead, it relied on its cast to carry it through, which really didn’t amount to much more than Randy Couture talking about his cauliflower ear and Stallone trying to romance a woman. But The A-Team just doesn’t give a shit about all that character jazz, which is why fans of the show may not have liked it so much. That’s not to say that The A-Team doesn’t have excellent interaction with the characters, as it does. Liam Neeson, with a cigar in his mouth and a grizzled voice, is pretty much the equivalent of Indiana Jones badassery (I’m sorry, but he is). And the way he works with that guy from District 9 (Sharlto Copley), that guy from The Hangover (Bradley Cooper), and that guy who smashed Chuck Liddell’s face in (Quinton “Rampage” Jackson) is just classic. A lot of the great elements from the show (or so I’m told from the special features), such as B.A. being afraid to fly, are here and done to perfection. You can tell that these characters really care about each other, because they don’t force B.A. to get on the planes. They trick him instead. It’s all to comical effect, and it makes all the characters pretty likeable.
But enough with the characters and more with the Big and Stupid action. The A-Team is in every way an action fan’s wet dream. Are there ridiculous sequences that make you shake your head and say, “That can’t happen”? Yep. How about a touch of humor to go along with the gunfire? Yep again. Even the double cross of those who were once trusted is in here, making this a very by-the-numbers action film, but one that keeps knocking you on your ass so much that you hardly even notice or care about it. And while the CG can get pretty bad sometimes, watching, as I mentioned earlier, a tank shooting its way into a lake from 20,000 feet is something that has to be seen to be appreciated. Don’t mind the egghead haters who say, “That’s stupid,” while pushing up their glasses and explaining how physics works. If you like to shut your brain off when you watch action movies, then this is the movie for you. This isn’t the thinking-man’s action film. Go watch the Bourne series for that. This movie is for the “Yeah, buildings go boom!” kind of fans out there, and if you’re not one of them, then stay the hell away from this. But for all others, THERE IS NO PLAN B! The A-Team is frigging awesome.
The Disc: Three stars
Just because there are a lot of special features on this disc, that doesn’t actually make them good. Included on this Blu-Ray are both the theatrical version and an all-new extended cut with scenes not seen in the theater. But like most DVDs that include this feature, most of the time you just sit there and wonder which scenes were actually added, as nothing really feels new or different enough to warrant watching the movie twice. Besides what sounds like the F-bomb dropped a few more times, there’s not really anything to see. So that sucks. Also included is “The Devil’s in the Details: Inside the Action with Joe Carnahan,” which features the director doing his commentary while also showing you details about some of the weapons used and revealing which A-Team member was in charge of each mission. I like the idea, but I think it could have been executed more effectively. Maybe more in the vein of a pop-up video kind of thing where we learn facts about certain scenes while the director is talking. That would have been cool. But this seems a little forced. Not a fan.
What array of special features would be complete without deleted scenes? Unfortunately, these deleted scenes are especially worthless, as there’s nothing that they add to the movie at all. I was shocked at how little was actually taken out of the film. As good as it was, I actually think there were other scenes that should have been left on the cutting-room floor that made it into the movie. “Character Chronicles” is a tepid look into the characters, with Sharlto Copley being the only one worth watching. The gag reel is actually funny (and loaded with swears), and there’s also a “Plan of Attack” featurette that shows all the hard work that went into the making of this film. Overall, there’s quite a bit here to watch after the movie, but most of it is pretty bland. They shouldn’t be the reason you pick this Blu-Ray up.