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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Joe Carnahan
Cast:
Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Biel, Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson, Sharlto Copley, Patrick Wilson, Gerald McRaney, Henry Czerny, Yul Vazquez
Writing Credits:
Joe Carnahan, Brian Bloom, Skip Woods, Frank Lupo (television series, "The A-Team"), Stephen J. Cannell (television series, "The A-Team")

Tagline:
There Is No Plan B.

Synopsis:
There’s more action, more adventure — and more attitude — in The A-Team Extended Edition, which includes a never-before-seen version of the film with spectacular added footage not shown in theaters!

Buckle up for an adrenaline-fueled thrill ride starring Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Sharlto Copley. Convicted by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit, a daring team of former Special Forces soldiers must utilize their unique talents to break out of prison and tackle their toughest mission yet. It’s going to take guts, split-second timing and an arsenal of explosive weapons ... this is a job for The A-Team.

Box Office:
Budget
$110 million.
Opening Weekend
$25.669 million on 3535 screens.
Domestic Gross
$77.213 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 118 min. (Theatrical Cut) / 133 min. (Extended Cut)
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 12/14/2010

Bonus:
• “The Devil’s In the Details: Inside the Action With Joe Carnahan” Picture-in-Picture Commentary
• Both Theatrical and Extended Versions of the Film
• Deleted Scenes
• Gag Reel
• “A-Team Theme Mash-up Montage”
• “Plan of Attack” Documentary
• “Character Chronicles” Featurette
• “Visual Effects Before and After” with Commentary from Visual Effects Supervisor James E. Pierce
• Trailer
• Previews
• Digital Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The A-Team [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 21, 2010)

When you look at the list of TV shows adapted into big-screen movies, you’ll see that the vast majority really didn’t do all that well. The cinematic landscape is so littered by flops and disappointments that it’s tough to figure out why so many of these adaptations continue to get made.

I guess the promise of a potentially ready-made audience is appealing, and the name brand value might help as well. Most hope to become movie franchises, but that doesn’t usually happen.

Add 2010’s big-screen A-Team to the list of moderate duds. With a US take of $77 million, it wasn’t a true bomb, but it’s clear its makers expected higher returns. Will we get additional A-Team adventures at multiplexes? Maybe, but given the film’s high production budget and its lackluster return, I doubt it.

A-Team starts with a prologue in which the four main characters come together. Held by corrupt Mexican officers, Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith manages to escape. He then goes to rescue his partner, Templeton “Faceman” Peck, from the same nasty General Tuco (Yul Vasquez). Along the way, they get help from explosives/vehicle expert – and disgraced Army Ranger – BA Baracus (Quinton “Rampage” Jackson). After they save Face, they bust nutso pilot HM “Howling Mad” Murdock (Sharlto Copley) to get them to US airspace – where as part of Hannibal’s complex master plan, American forces shoot down Tuco’s helicopter.

This sets the four soldiers up as an elite “A-Team”, and they go on to many successful missions together. Eight years after the prologue, we find them in Iraq, where CIA Agent Lynch (Patrick Wilson) recruits them to lead a black ops mission in which they’ll recapture stolen US Treasury plates being used to create counterfeit cash.

They complete their task, but other problems ensue. These left the A-Team members disgraced and imprisoned. Eventually Lynch reappears and sets a prison break in motion so that the A-Team can find the Treasury plates, now apparently being used for nefarious means once again. They get the promise of freedom and cleared names, so they agree – and encounter much double-dealing and mayhem as they go about their mission.

Despite the fact I was a teen when it aired in the 80s, I never much cared for the original A-Team. It always struck me as a little kid show, a series meant for the 10-and-under set. Was it? I don’t know; it’s been so long since I’ve seen it that I don’t remember a ton about it.

Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with programs intended for kids; that market deserves its own share, and plenty “kiddie shows” can also be entertaining for older folks. Heck, I wasn’t even that much older at the time, but for reasons I can’t recall more than a quarter of the century down the road, I didn’t get into the series.

Nonetheless, I looked forward to the A-Team movie. I remain a fan of big, loud, dopey action flicks, and this one came with the potential to be an explosive ball of fun.

Did it? Yes and no – my answer depends on which version of the movie you watch. The Blu-ray includes both the 118-minute theatrical cut and a 133-minute extended edition. When I saw the former on the big screen last summer, I felt thoroughly underwhelmed with it. To me, it delivered a loud, aggressive collection of action scenes with little else to engage the audience.

The plot? Borderline incomprehensible. The search for the plates exists as a standard MacGuffin; nothing about those plates matters, as they’re there just to provoke all the action.

Which is fine – hey, if MacGuffin’s are good enough for Hitchcock, they’re good enough for me – but the convoluted manner in which the theatrical cut explores its plot makes it a muddled mess. The absence of clarity subverts the effect of the action; the lack of decent story ensures that the mayhem just feels like random wham bang without anything more to engage us.

That changes for the extended cut, though. During those extra 15 minutes, the film fleshes out characters and story points in a surprisingly effective manner. What seems befuddling in the 118-minute version becomes much clearer in the 133-minute edition. I won’t claim this suddenly turns into a tight, concise tale, but it sure works a whole lot better.

Much of this comes from the extra time accorded to the Captain Sosa (Jessica Biel). She has a decent amount of screentime in the theatrical cut, but the extended version gives here additional play, and that’s important for one reason: she’s essentially an expositional character. Sure, she also acts as Face’s romantic connection, and they share a past – another area that improves in the extended cut – but she’s there mostly to help tell the story.

In that vein, Sosa fares much better in the longer version, which means everything about that cut improves. With a more effective story, all the other elements connect better as well. The characters seem clearer and more engaging, and the action packs a better punch because it doesn’t exist. In the theatrical cut, those scenes feel like action for action’s sake, whereas in the extended edition, the fights and mayhem feel more organic. Those elements don’t come across as though they exist to compensate for bad storytelling; they become more integral.

And thus more enjoyable. When I left the movie theater last June, I felt largely dissatisfied with The A-Team. When the extended cut on the Blu-ray ended, I thought I’d just seen a goofy but fun action flick. The longer version doesn’t make it a classic, but it allows the flick to become substantially more satisfying.

Footnote: if you opt for the theatrical edition, make sure you hang out through the end credits for a fun bonus. That material appears in the body of the extended cut, so no post-credits coda appears there.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio A/ Bonus B+

The A-Team appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. While not as consistent as I’d like, the image usually worked well.

Sharpness created the most apparent occasional concern. Though the majority of the flick offered strong definition and clarity, a few elements seemed a little soft. Still, those examples remained infrequent, as most of the movie was concise. I noticed no issues with jaggies or shimmering, and no issues with artifacts, edge haloes or source flaws appeared.

After opening with some sandy/hot hues to fit Mexican/Iraqi desert settings, the rest of A-Team usually tended toward a rather cool palette. This meant a general aqua tint to most scenes; some exceptions popped up, but expect the blue-green tone to dominate. I’d prefer a more creative sense of colors, but these looked fine within thir restrictions. Blacks were deep and tight, and shadows showed good clarity. I felt the occasional softness left this as a “B”, but it remained solid most of the time.

More consistent pleasures came from the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. Expect an aggressive mix, and the many action scenes meant that the audio became a heavy factor in the film. The track used the surround channels actively, especially when we got into various fights; elements swirled around the room and immersed us in the action well. General ambience was also good, and the score used the front speakers in a satisfying manner. The whole shebang fit together smoothly to create a satisfying sonic impression.

Audio quality was also strong. Expect some heavy bass here, as the various effects gave my subwoofer a workout. Low-end was deep and firm; no boominess or problems accompanied the bass response.

Speech was natural and distinctive; I noticed no edginess or other concerns. Music showed good range and clarity, while effects were concise and full. I thought the audio helped embellish the events in a positive manner.

When we shift to extras, we find two editions of the film. We get the original theatrical version (1:58:45) as well as an Extended Cut (2:13:33). I discuss these in the body of the review, so if you didn’t already read those notes, go back there for my thoughts. In brief: I much prefer the longer edition of the movie.

Alongside the theatrical version, we can watch The Devil’s In the Details: Inside the Action with Joe Carnahan. This offers an audio commentary with a visual twist. In addition to Carnahan’s standard track, he occasionally pops onscreen to chat; during those moments, we also see storyboards, technical elements and footage from the set.

“Details” also displays graphics at the top and bottom of the screen. At the top, we find an interactive interface that provides minor information about various weapons and vehicles seen in the flick. At the bottom, we get a counter that keeps track of the film’s five “plans” and documents their progression, with an emphasis on the character involved at each moment. These different elements add a nice twist, but if you choose to simply check out “Details” as an audio commentary, you won’t miss much.

As for the content director/co-writer Carnahan covers, he discusses sets and locations, stunts and actions, script and story changes, cast and performances, cinematography and editing, various effects, and a few other production-related areas. While Carnahan can seem a bit full of himself at times, he delivers a pretty engaging chat. He tells us the nitty-gritty about the movie, and he’s happy to point out mistakes and other fun trivia. Carnahan makes this a pretty fun, informative piece.

Six Deleted Scenes fill a total of nine minutes, five seconds. We find “Giant Tea Party” (1:12), “Pecker” (1:39), “The Humvee’s Days Are Numbered” (1:40), “Hannibal Needs Supplies” (1:05), “5 More Minutes” (1:39) and “Lynch and His Doll” (1:40). These offer a few comedic character moments – such as bickering between BA and Face in “Pecker” – and a bit more exposition. “Pecker” and “Party” are funny enough to be worth a look, but the others tend to seem redundant, especially if you’ve seen the extended cut of the film.

After this we locate a Gag Reel. It runs seven minutes, 19 seconds, and delivers the standard assortment of goofs and giggles. Though the reel’s longer than usual, it’s not more interesting. In his commentary, Carnahan describes this as a great blooper collection, but I disagree; don’t expect anything out of the ordinary here.

During the one-minute, 36-second A-Team Theme Mash-Up Montage, we get a kind of music video. It takes movie clips and accompanies them with the original TV theme. Yawn.

For Plan of Attack, we encounter a 28-minute, 36-second program that features notes from Carnahan, series creator Stephen J. Cannell, producers Jules Daly and Iain Smith, co-writer/actor Brian Bloom, stunt coordinators Frank Torres and Ben Bray, weapons coordinator Rob Fournier, visual effects supervisor James E. Price, production designer Charles Wood, and actors Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Sharlto Copley, Austin “Rampage” Jackson, Jessica Biel, Patrick Wilson, and Maury Sterling. We hear a bit about cast, characters and performances, the flick’s tone/style and Carnahan’s take on the material, sets and locations, stunts and action, various effects, and a few other production issues.

“Attack” offers a pretty good mix of content and shots from the set. The behind the scenes material adds value, and the interview segments – while puffy at times – manage to present a fair amount of good data. Though not a great documentary, “Attack” satisfies.

We locate five shorter pieces under Character Chronicles. Overall, it runs 23 minutes, 11 seconds and it features “Liam Neeson: When a Plan Comes Together” (3:18), “Bradley Cooper: Fully Automatic” (4:07), “On Set with Rampage Jackson” (4:36), “On Set with Sharlto Copley” (5:02), and “The B-Team” (6:08). Across these, we get more comments from Carnahan, Neeson, Cooper, Jackson, Copley, Fournier, Bray, Biel, Sterling, Carnahan’s assistant Evan Nicholas, director of photography Mauro Fiore, camera operator Klemens Becker, and actor Terry Chen. The pieces look at cast, characters, performances, and related topics. Much of this falls into the fluffy praise category, but some fun moments appear. The Copley program goes for a profane jokey tone, while “B-Team” offers amusing improvs from Biel and Cooper. All in all, the featurettes have enough value to make them worth a look.

Visual Effects Before and After with commentary from visual effects supervisor James E. Price. It fills six minutes, 11 seconds with effects footage at various states of completion. We see how the effects fleshed out the original photography while Price tells us about the work. I like this kind of feature, and this one adds nice details.

A few ads open the disc. We get clips for Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, the FX Channel and Wild Target. We also find the movie’s theatrical trailer.

Finally, a second disc throws in a Digital Copy of the film. As usual, it lets you move the flick onto a computer or portable viewing thingybob. Party down!

If you watch the theatrical cut of The A-Team, you’ll find a loud, incoherent action flick. If you view the extended edition… well, it’s still pretty loud, but it’s substantially more coherent, and the extra clarity turns it into a considerably more enjoyable romp. The Blu-ray presents good picture, excellent audio and a nice collection of supplements. A-Team isn’t a classic, but its extended cut offers a fun ride.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.25 Stars Number of Votes: 12
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main