09 July 2010

Review of The A-Team and updated reading list

In general, I'm not a fan of remakes. Almost by virtue of their existence, they lack in originality and creativity, and as homages it would be far better to use the original as moral or artistic inspiration for something different than to simply pour new wine into old wineskins. That said, sometimes remakes can be fun, entertaining and even original (like Batman Begins, Casino Royale or the Star Trek reboot).

The A-Team was certainly the first two, if not the last. Hat tips to the original TV show and cast are very nice to catch if done subtly and in moderation, but The A-Team went well over the top with them, from the van to the reel of the original TV show shown to the wards of the psychiatric unit in Germany (where Murdock was sent after his wrongful sentencing). Actually, come to think of it, The A-Team kind of went well over the top on everything, and the pinnacle moments of the movie were those when it realised that it was over the top, and turned around and winked at you for it. (The scene where they fly a tank into a Swiss lake using its main gun and a failed parachute - after which they roll out of the lake asking for directions from an old woman who just watched the whole thing - is a perfect example of this.)

It really was a big, noisy mess of an action film, though - and given to the kinds of tropified plot twists you could spot coming well in advance (the return to life and betrayal by someone thought dead, for example). The characters were well-done; I liked Copley's Murdock particularly well; Jackson's BA Baracus and Neeson's Hannibal were also very deftly done. Cooper's Face was smarmy and annoying for the most part, but since that was the way he was portrayed in the original TV show, I didn't have too much of a problem with that. I did enjoy the none-too-subtle backhanding of private military contractors (Blackwater having undergone a fictive name change to Black Forest), but as Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw pointed out in his review of Tom Clancy's HAWX (I do seem to enjoy linking his videos; can hardly imagine why), the private military contractor is indeed the most popular all-purpose bogeyman of our time in both cinema and video games. Also, as dastardly as the CIA has been in real life, why would the CIA need one of their operatives to steal treasury plates? As one arm of our opaque and jumbled mess of a national security state, wouldn't their coffers already have all of the money they can possibly find a use for, and then some? What would they do, paper their walls and wipe their bottoms with funny hundreds? And even if Lynch was a rogue agent, why would the CIA be trying to cover his arse at the end of the film instead of plausibly denying his affiliation with them? As with most action films nowadays, it's probably best if one doesn't ask too many deep questions about the plot and accept that it's going to be four guys causing massive crashes and explosions. All in all, it earned a solid 'meh' from me - entertaining, but not likely to go down in the same breath as Batman Begins and Casino Royale as far as remakes go.


My updated reading list is as follows: Mirror dance by Lois Bujold, Doctrine of the mean by Confucius, On being a Christian by Hans Küng and The liberation of theology by Juan Luis Segundo. I'm looking forward in particular to reading the Küng and Segundo - getting two ends of the modern Catholic perspective, both New Theology and classic Liberation Theology. Even where they agree they will probably also have vastly different things to say given their different backgrounds, trainings and philosophical proclivities.

I'm probably going to be taking a break from my blog for another week or so - I'm going to be visiting family out in Western New York and the internet there will likely be quite spotty. Sorry also for being so long with my latest update; I hope to be writing more regularly when I return.

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