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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: The A-Team (+ Digital Copy)



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#1 of 18 Matt Hough

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Posted December 13 2010 - 02:32 PM

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The A-Team (Blu-ray + Digital Copy)
Directed by  Joe Carnahan

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Year: 2010
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1   1080p   AVC codec  Running Time: 119/134 minutes
Rating: PG-13/NR
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish, French
Subtitles:  SDH, Spanish


Region:  A
MSRP:  $ 39.99



Release Date: December 14, 2010

Review Date: December 13, 2010



The Film

3/5


After the surprise success of the film version of Mission: Impossible, producers began scouring the vaults for old action television shows which could be adapted for the big screen. Though there was an occasional success here and there (Charlie’s Angels), most of the attempts were unquestionably unsatisfying (Miami Vice, S.W.A.T., Starsky & Hutch, I Spy, The Mod Squad) which didn’t lead to any follow-up films. Joe Carnahan’s The A-Team is the latest to attempt to resuscitate an old action show, and it, too, has arrived with somewhat tepid results. There is a clever line at odd moments, and some of the action stuff, as big and dumb as it often is, can be involving, but the writers’ attempts to shock and surprise us fail again and again. The Sting this is not, and some of Carnahan’s shorthand style of storytelling suggests that maybe the movie’s plot wasn’t all that well thought out to begin with.


General Morrison (Gerald McRaney) asks his crack special ops squad to track down some counterfeit $100 engraving plates which had been used to print over $1 billion of fake currency during the Iraq war. On the move are team leader Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson), right hand man "Face" Peck (Bradley Cooper), team muscle B.A. Baracus (Quinton "Rampage" Jackson), and nutty pilot “Mad” Murdock (Sharlto Copley). They must work fast because the plates are also being eyed by two other parties out for their own ends: CIA agent Lynch (Patrick Wilson) and black ops mercenary Pike (Brian Bloom), a former friend of Hannibal’s.


Director Carnahan has collaborated on the script with co-star Brian Bloom and Skip Woods, and they’ve shorthanded the team’s initial formation in the pre-credit and credit sequence which occupies almost a good twenty minutes of the movie. Then, they shorthand the team’s initial mission to recover the plates, showing us in bits and pieces key moments in the operation as they describe it using plastic models in real-time. Could it be that the operation was too nondescript to bother filming in more complete terms? Of course, this is only the beginning of the nonsensical action scenes which follow, each louder and more ludicrous than the next as the team is arrested in disgrace, split up and sent to four different prison facilities, and then must be sprung to continue the operation and to clear their names, all the while dealing with betrayals and revelations which anyone who’s seen even one or two of these espionage capers can see coming long before the surprises are sprung. The action pings all over the globe from Mexico to Germany and back to Los Angeles (though all of the filming was done in Vancouver), but there is never much of a sense of international intrigue. The stunts are big, the explosions are loud, and the characters are familiar to viewers of the original television show (down to B.A.’s fear of flying with Murdock) and even for those new to the character arcs, very simple to pigeon-hole easily. For an easily swallowed and easily digestible popcorn flick, it’s mildly acceptable, but clever writing and more attention to deepening the characterizations already created from four years of prime time television might have made The A-Team into something more than an easily disposable action yarn.


Liam Neeson is on cruise control as Hannibal Smith, crafty mastermind of the ops for the team. Bradley Cooper continues the ladies’ man persona we’ve seen from him in a handful of movies recently. MMA warrior Quinton “Rampage” Jackson has some major boots to fill replacing Mr. T, arguably the television show’s most iconic character, as B.A., and the fighter struggles somewhat in his first major role, handling the action acceptably but guilty of mumbling his lines and playing to other actors’ third shirt buttons on other occasions. Sharlto Copley walks away with the movie as the lovable lunatic Murdock changing accents in a flash and focusing on his objectives only when absolutely necessary. It’s a pleasure watching such an accomplished actor work a character so rich in ticks and tricks. Jessica Biel as Captain Charissa Sosa (Face’s ex-lover), now bent on bringing down the team and regaining the plates against all of the others jockeying for their possession, alternates between irritating and intrusive. As the only major female presence in the movie, of course, she steals focus on more than one occasion. Gerald McRaney, Patrick Wilson, and Brian Bloom do their parts to obfuscate the obvious though with only limited success.



Video Quality

4/5


The film is framed at 2.35:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Contrast runs fairly hot on this title, but it’s consistently applied leading to brownish skin tones but nicely saturated color. Details in faces and textures of clothing are easily discernible. Black levels aren’t always their deepest, and details in the shadows are sometimes crushed. A couple of scenes featured in low light levels appear more digital in appearance. The extended version of the film used for the purposes of this review has been divided into 20 chapters. The theatrical cut also has 20 chapters.



Audio Quality

4.5/5


The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is quite active in terms of ambient sounds placed around the room and with some neat panning across and through the soundfield. Occasionally, though, there seems to be a certain lack of impact in some of the larger and more violent action scenes. Dialogue appears for the most part in the center channel though there are a few instances of directionalized dialogue being moved to alternate channels. Alan Silvestri’s noisy score likewise gets spread across the entire soundstage.



Special Features

4/5


The viewer is offered the option of watching the 119-minute theatrical cut or the 134-minute extended edition.


“The Devil Is in the Details” (available only with the theatrical version of the movie) is a combination of audio commentary with director Joe Carnahan and with an interactive overlay (in the letterbox bar areas) showing the weaponry and plan sequences for the various operations during the movie.


All of the disc’s featurettes are presented in 1080p.


There are six deleted scenes which can be viewed separately or in one 9-minute grouping.


The film’s gag reel runs for 7 ¼ minutes.


A-Team Theme Mash Up” is a 1 ½-minute montage of memorable moments from the movie set to the show’s theme music.


“Plan of Attack” takes 28 ¾ minutes with director Joe Carnahan, the principal actors, and the movie’s weapons coordinator discussing the making of the film with many behind-the-scenes shots of the movie’s production.


Each of the five major players in the movie get a featurette devoted to him or her with interviews with the subjects in question, other cast members, and the production team. Liam Neeson’s is 3 ¼ minutes; Bradley Cooper’s is 4 minutes; Rampage Jackson’s is 4 ½ minutes; Sharlto Copley’s is 5 minutes, and Jessica Biel’s is 6 ¼ minutes.


A featurette on the visual effects is hosted by visual effects supervisor James Price: it’s a 6 ¼ minute montage of before-and-after shots showing raw footage and how it was adapted for the film via CGI.


The film’s theatrical trailer runs 2 ½ minutes.


The disc offers BD-Live features. In addition to BD-LiveLookup, there is one additional featurette only available on-line: “Dressing Down,” a 3 ¼-minute interview with the film’s costume designer Betsy Heimann as she describes her choices for various characters in the film. The actors also talk about what they wear in this 720p featurette.


The disc offers promo trailers for the FX drama series, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, and Wild Target.


The second disc in the set is the digital copy of the movie with enclosed instructions for installation on Mac and PC devices.



In Conclusion

3.5/5 (not an average)


The A-Team is an easy-to-take and easy-to-forget action picture, based pretty faithfully on the NBC television series of the same name. Excellent picture and sound and more than adequate bonus features make a Blu-ray package fans will be happy to embrace.




Matt Hough

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#2 of 18 Cees Alons

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Posted December 14 2010 - 01:09 PM

Thanks, Matt.


I started to view the film on a recent transatlantic flight - and then decided I didn't want to see it on a miniature screen for the first time, so I switched it off.


My first impression then was that almost all characters did a nice replay of the original cast, Liam Neeson filling the shoes of George Peppard in an surprisingly good manner.

But, again, I only saw a few scenes of the film, and I hesitated to order the BD later. So I'm very happy with your review: it helps me deciding to order it after all.


My reservations stemmed from the fact that I never was a big fan of the TV-series, although seeing lots of episodes as a student and later again replays on one particular channel with my kids. We didn't fancy the series extremely much, nor hated it either. (A sort of running joke between my son and me was our official waiting for one specific accident: like we used to say, they must have owned a special car-topple-over ramp on the set, eager to use it in literally each and every episode.)


We will watch it soon, maybe my son will come over too. He, in turn, is a student now.

Will they ever run out of subjects for a new reboot version of it?



Cees



#3 of 18 Brett_M

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Posted December 15 2010 - 04:46 AM

Nice review.  I missed it on the big screen and look forward to it on blu-ray, as I am a fan of the show.  Just a side note:  I think Mann's Miami Vice is awesome and gets better with each viewing.  Not everyone's cup of tea to be sure but a nice update of the show, imho.


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#4 of 18 Robert Crawford

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Posted December 15 2010 - 12:36 PM

I was never a fan of the series, but I did enjoyed watching this BRD today.  Lots of fun!





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#5 of 18 Aaron Silverman

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Posted December 16 2010 - 03:02 AM

I thought the Miami Vice movie was pretty good too, even if it did turn an old favorite show upside down.


I was a HUGE A-Team fan back in the day, but then again, I am a bit younger than Cees and Crawdaddy. Posted Image Looking forward to seeing this one.


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#6 of 18 Ronald Epstein

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Posted December 16 2010 - 12:39 PM

Amazon has now dropped the price to $19.99.


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#7 of 18 TonyD

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Posted December 17 2010 - 05:10 PM

Gonna be $12.99 at  a Really Good store in a couple of weeks.


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#8 of 18 Colin Jacobson

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Posted December 20 2010 - 06:11 AM

Wanted to add that the Extended Cut works WAY better than the theatrical one, IMO.  When I saw the movie last summer, I thought it was a mess, but I found myself surprisingly entertained when I watched the BD's Extended Cut.  The movie just seems a lot more coherent...


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#9 of 18 cineMANIAC

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Posted December 20 2010 - 08:37 AM

For those of us who don't need a DVD, Digital Copy or other junk with our Blu-rays and have to pay for them, Warners had a brilliant release scheme on two recent new releases. There was an $18 1-disc BD of Inception and a $30 version with the junk (at Best Buy) and a similar structure for Legend of the Guardians. There was actually a third version of each but I don't remember what it was. Every studio should adopt this strategy. And it's not like the cheap edition was bare-bones - they all featured some extras. I was pleasantly surprised.


 

 


#10 of 18 Aaron Silverman

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Posted December 20 2010 - 09:15 AM

Inception had a 1-disc BD, a BD/ DVD/ Digital Copy combo pack, and the Best Buy exclusive version of the combo pack with the script book.  The price seems to be the same for the 1-disc and combo pack most of the time (but the BB exclusive is currently $35!).


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#11 of 18 TravisR

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Posted December 20 2010 - 11:03 AM

The A-Team Blu-ray is on sale at Best Buy next week.



#12 of 18 TonyD

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Posted December 20 2010 - 11:42 AM



Originally Posted by TonyD 

Gonna be $12.99 at  Really Good   Best Buy in a couple of weeks.





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#13 of 18 Lynette J

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Posted December 21 2010 - 06:36 PM

So when's this sale at Best Buy?  After the new year?  I'd love to pick it up especially on the cheap.



#14 of 18 TravisR

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Posted December 22 2010 - 06:05 AM

^ December 26 to January 1.



#15 of 18 Lynette J

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Posted December 23 2010 - 06:48 AM

Thanks, I'll definately pick it up then!



#16 of 18 Ronald Epstein

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Posted December 26 2010 - 11:49 AM

$12.99 on Amazon today


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#17 of 18 Ron-P

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Posted December 26 2010 - 12:45 PM

Thank you Ron. We rented this last week and loved it, at $12.99 it's a no-brainer.

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#18 of 18 Ronald Epstein

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Posted December 27 2010 - 12:03 PM

Just finished watching this on my new surround system.


Wow!


I feel as if my system took a pounding tonight.


Really love this film.  Got to be the best action film of

the year.  Scene after scene of explosive action.  The

transfer is impeccable.


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