Friday, August 19, 2011

My Thoughts on The A-Team

This article was first posted on July 25, 2010 and stands as a sterling example of the depths of pretentiousness of which I am capable.

What was I thinking?

Don't get me wrong, I thought The A-Team was a pretty good movie, but I appear to have made much more of it than what it actually was.

With much scratching (and shaking) of head, I present to you, my review of The A-Team:

The A-Team is a good example of how to update an old franchise. The last episode of the TV series aired in 1987, more than 20 years ago, when most of the fans, including myself, were kids. Assuming this movie was meant to cater to fans of the show (a reasonable assumption considering that these fans form, presumably, an instant potential fanbase for the movie), it would be insulting to attempt to recreate the cartoonish depiction of violence that was almost a trademark of the series. We're older now and while we may have been able to suspend our disbelief at the sight of highly trained special forces operators using automatic weapons to shoot around the bad guys to intimidate them into surrender rather than shooting into them back when we were adolescents, such is probably not the case now. Although there may have been a legitimate reason behind the original A-Team's reluctance (or aversion) to killing (after all, had they capped every bad guy they ran into, with each episode they would have added to a rapidly mounting body count that local, state and federal law enforcement agencies could not ignore no matter how much the people they killed deserved killing and that's not even considering the possibility of friend's and family of their victims bringing whatever political juice they had to bear on the government to compel it to do something about these rampaging ex-special forces operators operating above the law within the United States of America), it's pretty obvious that the first thing that would have to go when bringing The A-Team to the big screen would be the series's bloodless portrayal of violence. Old fans, and modern audiences, just wouldn't buy it. The only way to retain the bloodless violence would be to do away with the guns. And the A-Team without guns would be like Crockett without Tubbs or Kirk without Spock and McCoy.

In letting the story of John "Hannibal"Smith, Templeton "Face" Peck, Bosco "B.A. - BadAttitude" Baracus and H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock grow up along with its fanbase, the filmmakers probably did the right thing. After all, we have plenty of examples of past attempts to update old franchises that went awry when filmmakers forgot that their fanbase was no longer a bunch of kids: The Star Wars prequels and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra come to mind. Speaking of G.I. Joe, there was an animated movie titled G.I. Joe: Resolute that was released at about the same time as the live-action travesty of a film that shares its name. Like The A-Team, it updated its sensibilities. Like The A-Team, it gave us a more grown-up perspective of violence. To quote 1 Corinthians 13:11:

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

But enough of my navel-gazing.

How was the movie? you may rightly be asking.

It's worth seeing just for Sharlto Copley's portrayal of Murdock.

My gripes about the film are fairly minor. I thought the opening sequence introducing the characters was a bit difficult to swallow. We're somehow asked to believe that the US Army would reinstate a dishonorably discharged Ranger (Baracus) and a certifiably insane pilot (Murdock) even if they had been instrumental in the success of a black ops mission that Smith and Peck were on, especially in light of the fact that Baracus was left with a crippling fear of flying as a consequence of that mission. Also, an A-Team, or a Special Forces Operational Detachment-Alpha, is a 12-man unit; I was half expecting the movie to start off with a full A-Team and have eight of them get killed, leaving us with the four heroes. Murdock's inclusion, as a pilot, in the A-Team, is also somewhat odd; it probably would've been more appropriate to have him be a member of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

However, these gripes, as I said were minor and did not get in my way of enjoying the film. The ones that did get in my way of enjoying the film were the names of BrianBloom's character, Pike, and his Private Security film, Black Forest. Pike just sounded a bit too much like Peck, especially in light of the fact that my hearing isn't exactly getting better with age and the theater where I saw The A-Team was not fully sound-proofed). Black Forest is an obvious riff on Blackwater Worldwide (now XeServices LLC) but it just sounds stupid. It also left me with a curious craving for chocolate whenever it was mentioned. It didn't help that half the film was set in Germany. As you probably know, the Germans make good chocolate.

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