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A-Team, The (2010) Print E-mail
Friday, 17 December 2010
ImageOkay, so what’s the next 1980s television series to be adapted for the big screen?  That would “The A-Team.”  It is going to be hard to view this as anything but a summer blockbuster and a quick buck for the studio.  The studio, trying to resurrect anything that could possibly turn into a franchise, does it with one of the cult television shows of the mid-1980s.

Unfortunately, “The A-Team” is not going to be the next “X-Men.”  In fact, there is rarely any television adaptation that has spawned a successful set of films. Comics books, yes.  TV shows, no.  Still, the studio will prey on our recollections and nostalgia of our childhood to make some money.  And don’t get me wrong.  I love to see what the studios come up with for my favorite shows.  When they tank it usually doesn’t ruin my memory of the shows.  The same goes for “The A-Team.”

The show essentially made Mr. T a household name.  While most mix up where certain taglines came from (ie: “I pity the fool” didn’t come from “The A-Team”) it is still hard for someone out there to not at least heard of this band of outlaws.

The film adaptation suffers from the typical origins style and the lack of a truly great plot.  The plot is so transparent that it makes no difference whether you understand it or not.  All that you need to know is that this band of Army Rangers has been framed for a crime they didn’t commit.  The rest is simply their attempts at clearing their names.  Each plot moment filled in with enormous amounts of action sequences.  That is simply what makes this film entertaining.  The rest is vacuous.

As far as I am concerned the film tops that of the spy/espionage styling of “Knight And Day.”  At least the filmmakers seemed to recognize the lack of an intricate plot and just gave us the reminiscent characters and action that we went to the see the film for anyway.
In “The A-Team,” the timeline has been shifted, updated, from post-Vietnam to post-Iraq.  “The A-Team” begins with how the members of the team came to get together.  We then fast forward many years and several successful missions later to the point in which they get framed.  They choose to go on a mission that they were warned not to simply because of their egos.  When all appears successful, they are caught in the middle of a double-cross, but are the only ones left at the scene of the crime.

The team is stripped of their rank and imprisoned in Army holding prisons, individually, for up to 10 years.  However, it doesn’t take long for a crooked CIA agent, Lynch (Patrick Wilson) to once again enlist the aid of the “The A-Team.”  One by one the members of the team break out of prison, though if I were Face (Bradley Cooper), I wouldn’t have left my cushy setup.  Unfortunately, B.A. (Quinton “Rampage” Jackson) has found religion and vows not to kill, but tags along anyway until the day in which he will be forced to break that vow.

The team sets out to find Pike and the engraving plates, for which they were framed.  It leads to a discovery that seems to be more a shock for the team than it is for the audience.  Chalk that one up to the fact that we get to see too much of the film that the actors don’t.  So, there is no mystery in this “who set them up” story.  Everyone’s character is easily spotted.

For good measure we Jessica Biel as a DOD army officer charged with bringing back the fugitive team.  Of course her importance is linked to her past relationship with Face, which seems like a totally unnecessary sideline.  But, hey, it’s Jessica Biel.  I won’t complain.

With battle sequences galore, this is a fun ride, but fairly empty in terms of any depth.  The new actors get their roles done quite while with Liam Neeson being the best as Hannibal Smith, then Bradley Cooper as Face, followed by Murdoch and B.A.  We sure do miss Mr. T.

Despite the pitfalls of the film itself, the Blu-ray video transfer is home theater demo worthy material.  We’ll skip right past the hugely problematic intro and skip right to the goodness.  The colors are vibrant and always lead to accurate portrayals of each of the locations.  The brightness and contrast levels are balanced leaving room for terrific black levels, aside from the opening.  Black levels remain resolved, with shadow delineation almost always perfect.  Crushing is absent, once the opening sequence passes.  Facial textures are incredible as is the texture and detail in the costumes.  CGI falters a bit due to the original source material.  Softness does creep in, bit it is to be expected in a film of this sort.  Short of that, my only complaint is that the style of editing leaves you with a headache despite the great video quality.  The fast-motion hand-to-hand combat sequences leave your head spinning, uncertain of the events until just the victor is standing.  However, this has nothing to do with the transfer, just laziness in shot construction in my opinion.

Just like with the video, the audio quality is outstanding.  It is only hindered by one little thing that only happens a few times during the movie, but is enough in my opinion to keep it from absolute perfection.  The dialogue is generally weighty and clearly present.  However, there are a few words/lines that fall into obscurity.  It is never anything important, as evident by the script, but it does irk me when dialogue doesn’t cut through.  Other than that the mix and soundfield is amazing.  The surround channels are fully engaging, usually providing more envelopment than immersion.  The immersive, discrete elements of the surround channels cut through when need be, but I would have like to have heard more detail on the part of the sound designers.  Budget and time only allows for so much.  However, that being said, everything crucial is there and a bit more.  Directionality is spot on.  The dynamics are fairly expansive, but oddly not as much as I would have thought for such an action film.  The LFE channel comes in nicely when it is called upon.  You will certainly find some demo material in this DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track.

“The A-Team” comes with two cuts of the film, an unrated extended cut and the theatrical cut.  The extended cut doesn’t make the film any better or worse, just adds some curse words.

In terms of special features, this is a fairly light package given what could have been done with material from both the movie and the TV show.  There are a few deleted scenes that couldn’t have hurt to be included in the film.  “The Devil’s In The Details: Inside the Action with Joe Carnahan” is a commentary mixed with PiP functionality.  Unfortunately, the commentary cannot be listened to separately.  “A-Team Theme Mash-Up Montage” is a promo, trailer-like piece set to the original A-Team theme music.  “Plan Of Attack” is the best documentary on the making of the film on this disc.  “Visual Effects Before and After” takes us on a composite journey of the visual effects.  “Character Chronicles” takes a look at the characters and the film actors.  Lastly, there is a gag reel, a trailer and BD-live functionality.  A Digital Copy disc is also included in the Blu-ray package.

“The A-Team” isn’t substantial but it is surely entertaining.  Those interested in the original actors should stick around for a brief segment after the credits.  My issue is that the film ends with the characters simply ready to start the sequel, which based on this film hopefully won’t happen.  While the movie may suffer, the video and audio qualities are superb and shouldn’t be missed.

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