Fri, Jun 11, 2010

: The A-Team

I went into this with trepidation and not much hope. I’m a fan of the cheesy-but-fun 80s TV series but I wasn’t sure what direction they would take. Would this be a satirical vision of the show like the Brady Bunch movie? A clumsy and flat redo like Bewitched? Often these remakes are too self-aware or try to recreate the original so exactly it fails to be anything new.

I am pleased to report that the A-Team, while certainly far from perfect, gets most things right. It strikes a nice balance between new and familiar, with actors similar to the originals, but bringing their own flair for the role. (All are pretty good, but the standouts are Liam Neeson as Hannibal and Bradley Cooper as Face.) The script is excellent, with a perfect blend of humor and action. It’s not so chock-full of one-liners it devolves into a parody or comedy, yet humor is a critical aspect of the original show. Plotwise, I was delighted. Yes, it’s over-the-top, over-complicated, and over-done, but the best decision was the way they combined an origin story with a new conflict. This is both new and familiar. From the TV show we know that the A-Team was “set up for a crime they didn’t commit” and now we get to see that, in addition to how the team members first met (and we find out why BA doesn’t like flying). But a lot of films like this go strictly for the origin story, which can feel wimpy because we know much of it already, or they try to crap two completely different stories into one script, and neither gets the screen time they need. Such results are unsatisfying. This script cleverly intertwines both into something we know something about but is also new and I enjoyed it. This is a fun film. It’s got a lot of what we love about the original show, but the remake modernizes some things, provides slightly more character development, and allows the new actors to provide their own stamp on things.

That said, there are lots of flaws. The plot’s overly complicated and the film goes on forever (it should have been 20 minutes shorter). Some of the events are beyond far-fetched and the green screen special effects are truly horrible — we’re talking video game animation quality for explosions and stuff. The climax at the shipyard is truly awful. However, in a way that fits right in with the TV series, which, while it didn’t have obviously digital effects, had pretty bad stunts. That’s one of the things that gave the show its lovable B-movie nature. And it works here, too, though I think they should have gone even cruder. The way it is it feels like a mistake; like they tried and failed. It should have felt either low-budget or intentionally fake, like a parody movie. But if you don’t take it seriously, it still feels fun.

Overall, that’s the key to take from this movie. Have Face’s reaction to everything — always good-natured, with that too-perfect grin no matter what awful thing is happening to you — and you’ll have a blast. Leave your critical brain at home and go have fun!

Topic: [/movie]