Cinepub


Review: The A-Team by Jamie

Pretty much spoiler free.

In the early 80s a TV show burst on to the screen with a hail of bullets (bullets that never hit anyone but you were fucked if you were a tyre.) That show was ‘The A-Team’ and everyone loved it. Literally everyone. Seriously, who the fuck doesn’t love The A-Team? If you answered “Me” then get out of here. I don’t need your type reading this blog… No, that’s mean. You can stay, I guess, but re-evaluate your life. Something has gone very, very wrong.

Why did we love the A-Team? Well, the opening intro and theme certainly had something to do with it. Let’s watch it now, won’t we?

See? You open a show like that and there’s no way in hell that the audience is going anywhere until that show’s final credits are rolling. There’s something about that theme tune that stirs the very souls of men. All men from all walks of life. If you begin humming the first few notes of that song, any man around you will join in. Then try getting that theme out of your head. It’s damn near impossible. In fact it’s a pretty sweet song to use if you’ve got something else stuck in your head. Go on, go listen to something guaranteed to get stuck in your head say ‘Africa’ by Toto or something and then listen to The A-Team theme. See, worked didn’t it?

So yes, we all have great love for the original series. So I personally met the first rumblings of a big screen version of an A-Team film with some trepidation and slight excitement. I remember first hearing about it years ago with people like Ice Cube and Jim Carrey attached at various points but then for a while it seemed as though everything had died down and the film was pretty much dead. Then came the announcements in 2009 that it was most definetly on, Liam Neeson was Hannibal, Bradley Cooper was Face, Sharlto Copley was Murdock and MMA fighter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson was B.A. Baracus. That same mixture of trepidation and excitement found it’s back into my mind.

So does this film live up to our memories of that original series? Well, in a way. Let’s get things straight right of the bat. This isn’t ‘Inception’. This isn’t some massive, high-art experiment in film making. It’s a film based on The A-Team, a beloved but admittedly cheesy TV show from the 80s so it doesn’t need to be. All I went into this film hoping was that it would be fun and keep at least somewhat true to the feel of the series.

Well, it certainly succeeds on the fun part. I certainly felt as though I had been entertained by the time that the end credits rolled. There’s enough crazy action shit going on here to keep the average A-Team fan entertained. There’s a tank falling from a plane with the team using it’s massive gun to help them to land. There’s a great scene early on with the team executing a massive elaborate plan in order to recover some US treasury plates from a shady group of mercenaries called Black Forest (Yeah, it’s not the most subtle of films) and the whole final showdown, whilst not as fun as some of the earlier stuff, does have a bazooka blowing a whole in a massive freight ship. So that’s cool.Oh, there’s also a kick ass scene involving a 3D movie and the original theme but to say too much would be giving it away.

But what about staying true to the spirit of the show? Well, for the most part I thought it actually captured it pretty well. The characters are fun, fairly decent adaptations of the ones from the 80s. Their interactions are enjoyable and, especially in the case of BA and Murdock, fairly accurate to the way they interacted in the show. There are, however, a few problems. First off, they actually shoot and kill people. What the hell? That’s not the A-Team I know and love. Hell, BA even breaks a dudes back and kills him at some point. I can see why Mr T didn’t exactly enjoy the film and said it focused a little too much on the violence.

Still, I feel as though some of this can be forgiven because of the nature of the film. You see this is very much an origin story, beginning just before the team has actually formed. Murdock meets BA in a desert in Mexico in one of the most ridiculous coincidences put on screen since Kirk stumbled across future Spock on the ice planet in the recent Star Trek film. They then go and save Face before busting Murdock out of a mental institution. It then cuts to 8 years and 80 successful missions later and you actually get to see them getting convicted for he crime they didn’t commit before busting out of jail and trying to hunt down the bastards who framed them in order to clear there name. To sum up, these guys aren’t yet the soldiers of fortune hiding out in the Los Angeles underground. They aren’t going up against over-zealous land developers and corrupt law enforcement officers. They’re fighting military, mercenaries and agents of the CIA. It makes sense for them to be a little more violent at this stage in their lives. I just hope if they do make a sequel and they are taking jobs and going against smaller scale bad guys they don’t kill them. They’d better not accept any cash either.

So what of the acting? Did the new guys manage to bring the old characters to life as we remembered them? Well, Liam Neeson is pretty much doing what Liam Neeson does, playing kind of a more lighted version of his character from ‘Taken’ but it works quite well as John “Hannibal” Smith, the older, gruff guy who’s seen some shit in his time and has a plan worked out in his mind for every situation. A plan, by the way, he is always glad for the coming together of. Did they make sense? I don’t care. Speaking of plans though, there are certain goddamn times throughout the film where I swear every fifth or sixth word out of Hannibal‘s mouth is the word plan. It really started to grate on my nerves.

Bradley Cooper is pretty much the perfect choice for Templeton “Face” Peck. I never really liked Face in the original TV show and I can’t really put my finger on why. There was just something about his cocky, smarminess that never sat right with me but I really enjoyed the character here. He’s just as cocky and just as smarmy and it just works. Maybe it’s because he’s kind of the main character here so he gets more to do whereas in the original series he always seemed like the one who had the least to do and he just didn’t stand out as much compared to the other three. But yeah, Cooper really pulls Face of well. He‘s even got that same kind of smile that Dirk Bennedict used to flash in the show.

Now, what can I say about Sharlto Copley? The man is a fucking great actor. He was brilliant in my favourite film last year, District 9, and he is perfect in the role of H.M. “Howling Mad” Murdock. He manages to capture that wackiness that Dwight Schultz used to bring to the character and is pretty damn funny throughout. They even managed to make him a little bit dangerously insane, at one point even going so far as to set Face on fire, apparently just for the fun of it which I enjoyed because to be fair, the character in the show never really seemed Howling Mad, he just seemed a bit eccentric.

The weakest link in the film by far is Quinton Jackson as Bosco “Bad Attitude” Baracus. There are times when he’s pretty much just imitating Mr. T and I suppose that if you playing B.A. Baracus in an A-Team film that’s kind of all you can do. In the original show the other actors seemed to actually be playing characters whereas Mr. T was just being Mr. T. Still, there are a lot of times when his line delivery just falls really flat. Still this is his first film role and I do think he’s got a lot of potential and good be quite a good actor if he works at it. I also really enjoyed his on screen chemistry with Sharlto Copley. They really seemed to capture the antagonistic relationship that the two had on the show. You also get to find out just why B.A. is afraid of flying which is a nice touch. Still, having Pity and Fool tattooed on his knuckles is a bit much.

There’s also the ‘fifth member’ of The A-Team, the van. All I’ll say is what happens to the van really, really pissed me off. Mother fuckers. It seems as though remakes nowadays always have to do something to destroy or mock something from the original. There’s Bubo the Owl in the Clash of the Titans remake, the ruining of the fly scene in The Karate Kid remake and what happens to the van here. I love that van and this is a damn outrage.

As for the rest of the cast well, let’s do a quick summary. Jessica Biel is really just there to move the plot along and be a love interest for Face which she does satisfactorily. Patrick Wilson is actually pretty fun as the C.I.A. Agent Lynch, being just slimy enough to be a fairly convincing villain and Brian Bloom is also pretty enjoyable as the slightly unhinged Brock Pike, a man who at one point seems to accept death as long as he isn’t shot by the incompetent C.I.A. agent who can’t even attach a silencer to a gun correctly.

So, what can I really say to sum up? Well, all in all the film is a fun, summer blockbuster that captures at least something of the spirit of the original show. Whilst I said that the actors did I pretty good job portraying the original characters, they still aren’t THE A-Team and they never will be but they are probably the best we could have hoped for. Well, maybe not Quinton Jackson but could they ever really find someone to fill Mr. T’s boots? Of course not and I still have faith that he will grow as an actor and be better if they do a sequel. And I really hope for a sequel. I really want to see the team become the soldiers of fortune they were in the show, helping out the little guy in small desert towns. Until then I’ll say that if you’re a fan of the show, you’ll enjoy this. It won’t be everything you’d hope it could have been but you’ll have a good time, especially considering some of the shit that’s come out this year. I rate The A-Team three and a half pints out of five. Laterz.

BONUS CONTENT!: Here’s a special message from the big man himself. I pity the fool who doesn’t take his advice.



Review: Clash Of The Titans 3D by Jamie

Well, it’s been a while since I last updated the blog, the reason being that I’ve been uber-busy with drinking, poker games and then I got ill for a week or so, so that was fun. Still, I am returned and with me comes a review of a film that I saw this past Saturday, the remake of 1981’s ‘Clash Of The Titans’ which was also named ‘Clash Of The Titans’.

Before we get into the review, I just wanted to mention the trailers that played before the film. There was on for ‘Toy Story 3’ which looks like it should be good though I can’t help but think they’re just doing the crazy Buzz thing all over again and they pretty much acknowledge it with the ‘return of the astro-nut’ line. Then there was a fucking confusing trailer for a film I’d never heard of before called ‘Legend Of The Guardians’ which only served to confuse me. It’s all about owls wearing helmets. I don’t know who could have forged these helmets as there don’t seem to be any humans or even apes around and owls certainly have a disadvantage when it comes to forging due to their complete lack of hands. I was even more confused when I found out it’s directed by Zack Snyder. Yeah, that Zack Snyder, the one who directed the ‘Dawn of the Dead’ remake, ‘300’ and ‘Watchmen’. What the shit is going on?

But the trailer I really wanted to mention was the one for ‘Piranha 3D’. Is Piranha 3D going to be a bad film? I think it’s reasonable to say that it’s going to be a fucking awful film but it’s going to be fucking awful in that way that I love. It’s got killer fish, fish that kill people and fish with murderous intentions! What’s not to love? This may even be the film that turns me around on the whole 3D experience. Hmm, I may have shown my hand a tad here.

Anyway onto the main event. Now that night we had intended to go and see ‘Kick Ass’ but due to a comical series of misunderstandings and misadventures we ended up with tickets to Clash Of The Titans instead. The weird thing was that I had actually watched the original that morning. Hadn’t seen it since I was a kid and so I had decided to buy it and watch it before seeing the remake. I just didn’t intend on watching both on the same day.

And boy, did my enjoyment of the remake suffer for it. I couldn’t help but compare the two in my mind as I watched and the remake certainly did not come out as the favoured choice. Now there could be some light spoilers here, though if you’ve seen the original I don’t you can really consider them as such.

How best to describe this film? Well, you know those Junior Novelisation books? The ones that are produced for children featuring massively simplified versions of a movies plot? Well, that’s what watching this movie felt like. Many of the elements from the original were there but they were just rushed through in an effort to get to the next special effects extravaganza.

For example in the original film, Calibos is Andromeda’s lover who is deformed by Zeus for all but on of his sacred herd of flying horses. He wants kill Perseus because he chopped off his hand and solved the riddle that would allow him to marry Andromeda. In this film Calibos used to be Acrisius, Perseus grandfather who Zeus punished with deformity for casting Perseus and his mother into the see. He wants to kill Perseus because Hades asked him too. The herd of flying horses seems to be fully alive and Pegasus himself no a browny black flying horse that the other ones seem to be afraid of. Perseues doesn’t capture and tame him in this film as he does in the original, he just sort of shows up and helps him at the end after meeting him once.

Perseus himself seems to have been struck with Anakin-syndrome, spending the entire film whining and moaning. Whereas as Anakin, however, was whining about how he wasn’t allowed to develop his powers to their fullest extent, Perseus spends the entire film whining about how he doesn’t wish to use the powers granted him by his Demi-God status because he wishes to carry out this quest as ‘A Man!’

Perseus is like Supersanta. He Is A Man!

The problem is that Sam Worthington isn’t a bad actor, especially for someone who is primarily an action star. He was certainly the best thing about ‘Terminator: Salvation’. In this though he just sort of rasps his way through his lines, sounding for all the world like some kind of Jason Statham with an Australian accent. One of the few times he does actually sound excited is when he turns to his men before entering Medusa’s lair and exclaiming “Don’t look that bitch in the eye!” and it seems so completely out of place within the context of the rest of the film that you just can’t help but laugh out loud.

Speaking of Medusa, she had a confusingly attractively human face. Confusing because any discussion about her before had been very insistent on explaining just how hideous she had become now. There’s also absolutely no sense of suspense or terror involved in the heroes battle with her. It’s all a bit of a Transformers-esque action scene which is a bit of a shame. Her backstory had also changed. In the original film she willingly fucked Poseidon in Athena’s temple, causing Athena to curse Medusa. In this film, Poseidon rapes Medusa in Athena’s temple. Athena punishes her anyway. So… what? Am I supposed to have sympathy for Medusa now? Am I supposed to hate Athena?

Not that it’d matter anyway because Athena doesn’t really appear in this film. Nope, this is strictly Zeus’ and Hades’ show. Oh sure, Poseidon makes an appearance in order to utter a line and some of the other Gods appear in their council chamber but I don’t think any of the others are even named. The reason for this is sadly clear. The filmmakers have decided that they don’t want people to think too much so they are only going to include the Gods that they know for sure the majority of people have heard of and that basically comes down to Zeus, Hades and maybe Poseidon. Hades wasn’t even in the goddamn film only further to serve my suspicion that he was included here purely for that reason.

The original film was much more about the Gods and the feuds going on between them and the unfortunate way that humans just happened to get tangled up between them. This film is more about a kind of war between man and the gods, with some infighting between Zeus and Hades, though it’s fairly unimportant as a whole. And I don’t know exactly what the fuck Ralph Fiennes is doing as Hades here. He stalks about and whispers his line, mispronouncing the word Kraken. It’s all very bizarre and not as creepy as I’m sure it was intended to be.

On to the Kraken then. Well, it’s essentially a big incomprehensible CGI mess which thrashes about for five minutes or so before Perseus turns it too stone with Medusa‘s disembodied head. Which is kind of exactly what happens in the original. It has absolutely none of the character that the Kraken had in the original film, even if he did look like a plastic, four-armed monkey fish.

Ooh, before I go I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the scene with Bubo, the robotic owl from the original film. Whilst getting ready to go on their quest, Perseus pulls the creature from a chest. It blinks, flaps it’s wings and makes that weird Clangers noise that it makes for a bit. Perseus asks another person what it is and he simply replies that he should just leave it there. The message is clear ‘This isn’t your father’s Clash Of The Titans!’ or rather ‘That’s right we’re literally pissing on the original now!’

So was there anything good about this film? Well, some of the action scenes weren’t bad though, as I say, they did occasionally slip into Transformers levels of incomprehension. And the actors in the film are pretty much all good actors, they just didn’t really do much for me in this. Polly Walker, the MILF who played Atia in HBO’s awesome series ‘Rome’ is here essentially playing the same character which was great until she was killed off ten minutes later. As for the 3D, well, you can really tell it was a film that wasn’t originally intended to have been made that way. Nothing really jumps out at you (3D humour there, ladies and gentlemen) and you can’t help but wonder why they bothered with the conversion process after the fact.

Overall I’m sure I’ve been harsher on it that this film deserves and I honestly believe that that’s only because I did watch the original that very same day. Overall, I’m gonna give it two pints out of five. And now for all you potential heroes out there thinking of crossing the river Styx and giving Charon, the Ferryman of the Dead, some coinage in order to do so, here’s some advice from Mister Chris De Burgh. Laterz.





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