Thursday, June 17, 2010

Movie Review: The A-Team and Killers


Quick synopsis: Hannibal, BA, Face, and Murdock are The A-Team – a military unit that “specializes in the ridiculous” in Iraq. When the team is framed for a crime they didn’t commit they escape from maximum security prison and try to clear their names. Gushots and explosions ensue.

Good: Like George Peppard before him, Liam Neeson brings confidence and humor to the team’s cigar-chomping leader.
Bad: Shoots BA in the arm right after meeting him.

Good: Sorry Mr. T, but this BA has more range even if he’s less threatening.
Bad: Let’s see…becomes pacifist, weird Mohawk origin, and was he some kind of car thief at the beginning of the movie or something (I didn’t catch it)?

Good: Face is still the guy who can get anything he wants with either his looks or his charm.
Bad: The Captain Sosa subplot distracts from the fact that Face is supposed to be a ladies man.

Good: Over-the-top Howling Mad Murdock worked in the 80’s but the toned down crazy man is just right for the film.
Bad: Not enough stuff for Murdock to do. As the pilot, he usually comes in after the action. Even the final fight only shows Murdock at the end even though there’s no aircraft in it.

Good: Great to see BA’s ride for a little while – great homage to the original.
Bad: Gets destroyed – which I guess is okay because for the rest of the film there’s no opportunity to use it anyway.

Good: She serves as great back-story for Face while becoming a large source of support for the team.
Bad: At first, when she and Face are reunited, it’s the typical, “We dated and I’m angry,” stuff. As the story progresses though, you discover that it was Sosa who’s at fault which is a refreshing change from the usual “it’s the guy’s fault” subplot. So while it starts bad, it becomes good.

Good: The TV version spent his time chasing the team, always getting outsmarted. The movie version is usually one step ahead and has superior numbers, firearms, and tech than The A-Team.
Bad: I don’t know if this is bad – it’s probably just because I saw a similar bad guy in The Losers – but the happy-go-lucky villain annoyed me.

Good: Nice to see Gerald McRaney (another staple of 80’s television (Simon & Simon anyone?)).
Bad: More plot device than character, General Morrison is the one who okay’s the team’s final mission and is killed before he can vouch for team.

Good: He should have been the main villain – a bad ass who’s the only character in the film to take BA down.
Bad: As with Captain Sosa, I think seeing a little less of him would’ve added to the impact.

Good: There is a scene with Dirk Benedict and Dwight Schultz (the original Face and Murdock).
Bad: The scene was cut and only runs after the credits.

Good: The action scenes were consistently over-the-top like a James Bond movie so it wasn’t ‘unrealistic’ in that universe (would have been distracting if they mixed ‘could happen’ with ‘could never happen’).
Bad: The fight scenes were that shaky-fast-cut garbage that makes everything look like a three year old is directing.

Good: Pretty decent likenesses and detailing and they’re in scale with Marvel Universe, Star Wars, and GI Joe 3 ¾ inch figures. For anyone stuck playing with the 80’s figures (remember Murdock had the bright orange jumpsuit and goofy grin), this is a real treat. The van is incredible too – it plays different sound clips depending on who you put in the front seat.
Bad: The Face figure has a suit – I was hoping for him to be geared up like he was in Iraq. He looks like a hit man with the suit and black gloves. And no Captain Sosa figure? What’s up with that?

So did I like the film? In the words of one BA Baracus, “Oh hell yeah, Hannibal.” It’s like a big-budget, two-hour episode of the show. It moved quickly and never took itself too seriously while establishing a real, lasting, reason for the team to be on the run. I would have liked a longer ending with Captain Sosa becoming the fifth member of the team (not a secondary character like Amy Allen or Tawnia Baker) on the run with them for her help in escaping. Still, I loved the original series and I still love the characters after all these years. See it in theatres because it didn’t open big so there probably won’t be a sequel. I’m looking forward to putting the Blu Ray next to my new DVD collector’s set of the original series.

The five members of The A-Team: Hannibal, BA, Face, Murdock, and the van.


Quick synopsis: Spencer, a spy, hooks up with normal-girl, Jen, and leaves the business behind to be with her. When Spencer’s old boss dies, he and Jen are endangered by the assassins (all of whom are their friends, co-workers, and neighbors) who come out of the woodwork to claim the bounty on his head, and he is forced to tell Jen about his past.

Good: I could easily see Ashton Kutcher doing more action movies.
Bad: This adds to the string of romantic comedies he’s done that are neither romantic nor very funny.

Good: When Jen does something good during an action scene, it’s fun to see her smile and celebrate a little – it’s rare we get to see that first. The last time I can remember is in True Lies after Jamie Lee Curtis mows down a bunch of bad guys with an uzi she drops and has a moment after where she grins sheepishly as though she’s saying “How about that?”
Bad: Jen was more plot device than character and her reactions became irritating.

Good: Eh. Nothing.
Bad: No personalities. Tom Selleck is severe and unfriendly and Catherine O’Hara has a slightly larger alcoholic beverage each time she appears on-screen.

So did I like the film? Although it had some nice action scenes and one or two laughs, unless you’re a huge Kutcher or Heigl fan, skip it. The story goes from light and entertaining to unbelievable when it ends (at feels like the midpoint) with an explanation (the villain reveal) that made me go, “Wait, what?” There was no big fight against a worthy adversary or big action piece, just a conversation you won’t understand because when Tom Selleck is revealed to be the person who green-lit Spencer, you will want to scream at the screen, “Then why didn’t you tell your assassins not to shoot at your daughter?” Wait until this comes to a pay channel and watch it for free – or better yet, there wasn’t much cursing so you can wait until it goes to cable TV.
Ugh. Definitely wait until it comes to cable TV.

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