Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Commentary of the Day: The A-Team

Based on the hit 1980's TV show, 20th Century Fox had been trying to launch a big screen adaptation of The A-Team for some time.  Boyz in the Hood and Four Brothers' John Singleton was attached as director in the 90's with Bruce Willis and Ice Cube rumored to star.  The story of a four man military unit wrongly imprisoned for a crime they didn't commit and travel the country helping the oppressed, The A-Team finally hit theaters in June of 2010, directed and co-written by Joe Carnahan starring Liam Neeson as man with a plan and cigar, Hannibal Smith, Bradley Cooper as the smooth talking Face, MMA fighter Rampage Jackson as van driving, afraid of flying hothead B.A. Baracus and Sharlto Copley as crazy pilot Murdock.  While The Social Network or The Fighter might have been the best movies of that year, The A-Team was definitely one of the most fun with it's big scale action, globe trotting story and likeable cast.  After Stretch gave me a taste for Carnahan, I sat down to to listen to the DVD commentary:

- Company credits, Carnahan never met anyone from Dune Entertainment
- Stole various tracking shots of the desert, city, etc
- Vancouver made to look like Mexico, Germany, Kuwait
- Carnahan has a sarcastic sense of humor, straight delivery about no corruption in Mexico
- A-Team is first movie Rampage is actually good in (I noticed he's shorter than everyone too)
- Lots of references to other movies, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Good, the Bad and The Ugly
- Wasn't trying to piss on anyone's childhood
- Previous film had over 200 F-bombs, got half of one here
- Carnahan, his sister, wife, son and dad are all in the movie
- Lots of unnoticed CGI work, like moth removal
- Wanted Rampage to play B.A., not Mister T.
- Critics bashed him saying a helicopter doing a barrel role is impossible, kind of the point, asks if you ever watched the show?
- Bradley Cooper put on at least 20 lbs of muscle for the role
- Murdock and B.A.'s uneasy relationship from the show carried over
- Patrick Wilson plays CIA "villain", loves him as an actor
- Jokes that Major Dad's Gerald McRaney plays General Dad in this, loved giving him hard time about being a conservative
- Bradley Cooper is from Pennsylvania but speaks fluent French after living with a family for 6 months
- Sharlto Copley didn't get references to Happy Days, baseball or Led Zepplin but knew the Freedom speech from Braveheart word for word
- The A-Team is not a documentary
- Carnahan and Liam Neeson are afraid of heights
- Encourages all young filmmakers to learn how to use modern technology for editing and f/x
- Cooper blew his hamstring during filming
- Carnahan told his dad to lose 40lbs and could be in the movie, dad did by using NutriSystem
- Prison scene with reference to Shawshank Redemption and friend Frank Darabont
- Cast got along really well, Liam Neeson was like the adopted father
- A movie in the movie plays, references Star Trek and John Sturges' The Great Escape
- New Zealand's WETA did a lot of work on the film, mostly scenes with planes
- An artist from Rhythm and Hues put his face on a mountain during the falling out of the plane in a tank scene, was chewed out, wouldn't identify self at a crew screening
- Tank steering it's descent by firing cannon, is The A-Team after all
- Some jokes are too quick or clever for audience, better to have a little person run in out of nowhere and punch someone in the nuts, will get a laugh every time
- Paul Newman is Carnahan's favorite actor, Wilson reminiscent
- 72-73 day shooting schedule, relatively short for type of film but fast pace works for him
- Huge respect for stunt men
- You can't melt Kevlar but you can in The A-Team movie
- Overkill is underrated, hence the finale with crashing shipping containers, gunfights, fist fights and explosions
- Nobody died on the show but they die here as kids demand it
- Violence nice is warm and cuddly, as American movies should be, don't like it just beat hell out of it
- Almost got an R rating for half a f*cker while The Dark Knight a guy has bomb stitched into chest
- Mentions sequel
- Jon Hamm cameo but no mention of him, involvement or opinion
- If you didn't like The A-Team, you don't like movies
- Carnahan plays music on set to help rally the crew, one day, played The Who's Baby O'Reily and people just went crazy
- Nook, Italian restaurant in Vancouver, B.C. is one of the best 3 eateries in the world
- This was a garage band A-Team, held together with wire, duct tape and the American spirit
- Easter Eggs after credits, show original cast members Dirk Benedict and Dwight Schultz, wanted them in the actual movie but just couldn't fit them in

Carnahan's a funny, real kind of guy and is easy listening in terms of consistently interesting/entertaining musings on technical filmmaking, the cast and editing etc.  The A-Team wasn't a huge hit, grossing $175 million worldwide off a $100 million dollar budget.  The overseas release coincided with The World Cup which might have been a miscalculation.  Rumors of a sequel swirled but in the end the film just didn't make enough money to warrant another outing.

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