New A-Team on Blu-ray

Thursday, 02 December 2010 09:37

Remakes, revivals, reinventions, reimaginings.  Whichever way they are described, taking an old TV series format and updating it for “today’s audience” is becoming a common occurrence. Some are incredibly successful, and a few even manage to not alienate fans of the original concept. Doctor Who did both these successfully. Battlestar Galactica did not.  So, which way does the new A-Team movie go?

As a huge fan of the original – it was one of the first shows I taped with our new video recorder back in 1983 – I am happy to say that it is highly unlikely that any fans of the original show will have a problem with this rebirth of the adventures of Hannibal, Face, Murdock and BA Baracus. It has everything that was a staple diet of the 1980s series, but takes its source material seriously. The late, great creator Stephen J Cannell would see this as a suitable memorial.

Director Joe Carnahan is obviously a fan – he even gives himself a ‘Hitchcock-style’ cameo in the movie. In the extras on the discs he enthuses about his love for the show, as do the stars themselves – three of the four admitting to being huge fans of the series back in the 1980s.

The A-Team - A Terrific Reimagining now on Blu-ray

Cannell, who died at the end of September 2010 at just 69 years old, was one of the finest and most prolific producers on American Television. Huge success in the 1980s, with The A-Team being the pinnacle of his empire, carried on through the 1990s, before he became despondent with the Hollywood commissioning process.  He found a new love in writing novels – his Shane Scully series produced ten titles, the latest of which, “The Prostitute’s Ball” has just been posthumously released.

Cannell wrote a further seven novels, starting off with “The Plan” in 1996. You can visit Amazon Via This Link to view and buy some of his entire written output.

In terms of his Television Shows, there is a full list at Cannell’s website. We can particularly recommend Profit, Riptide, and Stingray (not the Anderson show!) from the titles that you might not be very familiar with.  For those of you who can play Region 1 discs, definitely check out “Prime Time Crime”, which is an incredibly reasonable-priced American DVD collection, featuring 42 episodes from four previously unreleased series: Missing Persons (all 18 episodes), Broken Badges (all 7 episodes), Palace Guard (all 9 episodes), and UNSUB (all 8 Episodes).

Not only that, but there’s a dozen ‘fan favourite’ episodes from more well-known shows included on the set: Wiseguy (2 part pilot), The Commish (“Suffer the Children” parts 1 and 2), Hunter (“Hot Pursuit” parts 1 and 2), Cobra (“The Gnome”), The Greatest American Hero (“My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys”), Tenspeed & Brown Shoe (“Savage Says: There's No Free Lunch”), Silk Stalkings (“To Serve and Protect”), Booker (“Father's Day”) and 21 Jump Street (“La Bizca”). Incidentally, Jump Street is the latest Cannell format that is going to get the ‘big screen’ treatment – the format that brought Johnny Depp to the mainstream will star Jonah Hill (“Superbad”), Julianne Hough (“Burlesque”) and Channing Tatum (“Dear John”).

Meanwhile, back with the new A-Team, the Blu-ray has more than 90 minutes of special feature material.  Known as “THE A-TEAM Extended Edition”, the release includes a never-before-seen version of the film, with added footage not shown in cinemas – indeed, the cameos featuring original stars Dwight Schultz (Murdock) and Dirk Benedict (Face) are now integrated into the run of the film, rather than an extra treat for those who sat through the entire credits at the movie theatre.

For those looking for real in-jokes, check out the names of the ‘stars’ of the film that the inmates are watching in the hospital - just before the truck crashes through the screen, quite literally in “3D”!

Liam Neeson takes on the role of George Peppard’s John ‘Hannibal’ Smith with a seriousness and gravitas which brings pure class to the film. Bradley Cooper as Templeton ‘Faceman’ Peck is the devilish charmer of the original series bang on-target. Sharlto Copley, who made “District 9” his own, gives the necessary lunacy required to resurrect ‘Howlin’ Mad’ Murdock to perfection. And even Mr T must reservedly have a little pride in the fact that Ultimate Fighting Championship star, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, has pulled off re-interpreting BA Baracus in such style.

For those of you just coming in, the premise is that The A-Team is a group of soldiers convicted by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. Becoming ex-Special Forces soldiers on the run, they must utilise their unique talents to first break out of prison and then tackle their toughest mission yet: to prove their innocence against all adversity.

Meanwhile, Jessica Biel (Mary Camden/Rivera in 7th Heaven) takes on the sort-of equivalent role of Melinda Culea's Amy 'AAA' Allen from the show's first season, playing Charissa Sosa, intent on catching the renegades, despite actually having a great deal of respect for them. What price that she may become a surrogate member of the 'Team' if the franchise continues?

Fans will love the fact that the film effectively starts with their ‘origin’ story – something not seen in the original series. Whilst the film was expensive to make, the figure of $110 million was bandied about, but had a disappointing opening weekend Stateside. However, it did bring excellent returns worldwide, and the Blu-ray and DVD sales are certain to increase the profit margin. Whilst a sequel has not yet been confirmed, you certainly wouldn’t bet against it, if only for it to be able to start with the following words: “In Memory of Stephen J Cannell”.

The DVD extras include the following:

  • Extended Cut
  • Theatrical Version
  • Audio Commentary with Joe Carnahan
  • A-Team Theme Mash-Up Montage

The Blu-ray adds to these extras with the following:

  • “The Devil is in the Details” - Inside the Action with Joe Carnahan
  • Never-before-seen Deleted Scenes
  • Gag Reel
  • “Plan of Attack”
  • “Character Chronicles” - Liam Neeson; Bradley Cooper; Rampage Jackson; Sharlto Copley; Jessica Biel
  • Visual Effects Commentary with Visual Effects Supervisor James E Price
  • Digital Copy “How To”
  • BD-Live Extras – “What’s New”; “Live Lookup”

Released by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, the Blu-ray edition includes the Blu-ray disc, the DVD and a Digital Copy for your portable viewing device, a ‘15’ certificate and a RRP of £24.99. The DVD gets a ‘12’ certificate (meaning the extras are more adult than the movie!), and a RRP of £19.99. You can get either version for less at


Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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