Thursday, July 29, 2010

A plus for the A Team (movie review)

The thing about those shows you adored as a kid is that when you watch them as a grown up they are often howlingly bad. Knight Rider, Thundercats, Airwolf... even The A-Team isn’t quite as good as I remember it as a kid.

And the thing about remakes and ‘re-imaginings’ is that they can vary so much from the really quite good (Star Trek last year or the first Transformers movie) to the horrifyingly shameful (Starsky and Hutch with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson) to the plain bizarre (Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes).

I guess when you take a much-loved children’s TV show and update it into a big-budget film there is the potential for so much to go wrong. Generally though, The A-Team got the mix right. There was humour, plenty of ridiculously over the top action, sequences where the team improvised some gear from whatever was lying around, and we finally found out why BA is afraid of flying.

There are some gripes. Part of the original Face Man’s charm was that his sexual conquests were only ever hinted at in the scripts. In the movie they are referred to more explicitly (nothing too explicit, thankfully). There are a couple of scenes where the main action retreats off-stage. You don’t see how Hannibal manages to handcuff two snarling Rottweilers together, for example.

Also you have to stay right until the very end to see the cameos from Dirk Benedict and Dwight Schultz, when those would have worked in the main cut of the movie. And if you’ve seen the trailers you’ll know the van gets mashed. Well, that happens quite early in the film, which is an odd thing to do to a merchandising icon. Also, sometimes the CGI looks a bit ropey.

But overall, this is a remake with a decent budget and a bit of class. Some stand-out moments include a heist in Baghdad, a 3-D movie that comes to life, and the first time Murdoch meets BA and Face. There are occasional drifts into more thoughtful areas. BA struggles with whether he can renounce violence. Face asks Hannibal if he could ever betray his men. But the deep stuff doesn’t go too deep and descend into pathos.

I had a feeling I would enjoy this film before I went, but was apprehensive too. Bad remakes are painful to watch. This, thankfully, was a pain-free trip to the cinema. I’d recommend it.

Jongudmund’s rating: 8/10

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