A-Team, The

It’s about goddamned time I had fun watching a movie. The Hollywood adaptation of 80s TV staple The A-Team is a laugh riot, and in a good way.

We start it off right, somewhere in Mexico, where we meet Hannibal (Liam Neeson), B.A. Baracus (Quinten Jackson), "Howling Mad" Murdock (Sharlto Copley) and Face (Bradley Cooper) in a completely silly but awesome sequence. We jump ahead 8 years (and 80 successful missions) to the final days of withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, meaning it takes place in the future, I suppose.

The boys are tricked by a barely competent, completely evil C.I.A. agent named Lynch (Patrick Wilson),  who dupes them into . . . standing too close while someone else blows up some counterfeit money and the team's commanding general. That someone else is, in fact, the ultra-competent military contractor Pike (Brian Bloom), the first villain since Ledger’s Joker to pose a credible threat to a protagonist. He’s just a great screen presence and actually presents a real menace.

The plot really isn’t worth mentioning, as it’s poorly done and more than a little silly. There’s actually a reveal that’s straight out of Scooby Doo . What is worth mentioning: this movie is freakin' hysterical. At it’s heart, The A-Team is a comedy, but unlike most comedies, things explode a lot. There are scenes that are just sublime in their humor, especially those devoted to making fun of the CIA and their legendary incompetence. Between Pike being a rather scary guy and Lynch being arrogant, yet incompetent in a way we haven't seen since Cobra Commander, their dynamic yields as many laughs as the heroes’ shenanigans.

Patrick Wilson does a fine job as Lynch. He’s the sort of guy you just want to punch in the throat. At one point, he says a video of a building actually being blown up looks just like Call of Duty, which is something a strawberry douche would say.

The action set pieces are absurdly awesome, as well. We’ve all seen the tank falling out of the sky via parachute in the preview, but how they get out of it is a site to behold.

Really, the best part of this movie, much like the Losers, is the characters just being goofy despite their lives being in constant danger. The real fun of this film is the endless string of great lines and the dynamic between the four main players. Even Quinton Jackson does a great job as Baracus, and well, I don’t expect much from MMA guys after the tragedy that was Universal Soldier: Regeneration.

Overall, this movie is worth the price of admission, but only if you approach it in the way it was intended. It is a comedy through and through. Although, unlike the original show, it does have a body count ...the 80’s were, of course more innocent times. Couple this with The Losers, and it's a recipe for a Cavalcade about people who just can’t take being shot at seriously.

District 9

This is a damned near perfect genre movie.

It's momentum flings the narrative along from plot point to plot point, and the movie is filmed in a way that is fast paced and exciting but not confusing.

Director Neill Blomkamp has a virtuoso sense of how to make a movie exciting without making it dizzying. The cuts are fast, but they jump to things that are readily recognizable, so you get a ton of information without getting lost. It was a heart pounding way to see a movie. In terms of action, the movie has a lot of great "DAMN!" action moments, not to be spoiled here, but they are eye-popping and fast.

In other movies of this past summer (cough-cough-Transformers-cough-cough), the senses are pummeled with too much information, and while I'm sure I'm supposed to excited, I'm just numbed. In addition to how the film is presented, what is presented is  engaging and thought provoking without being preachy or overwrought.

There's a lot of heart in addition to some jet black humor about bureaucracy, the story focusing mostly on relocation efforts headed by Wikus van der Merwe, played with amazing authenticity by Sharlto Copley as a man in way out of his depth. He finds a bizarre contraption, and then pushes buttons and such until getting sprayed in the face with mist. Suddenly he is ill, and  more importantly his DNA has been altered such that he may use alien weapons, a coveted resource that his company, Multi-National United (Doesn't that just sound sinister?) has been trying to utilize since the E.T.s landed a decade ago.

Wikus is a classic everyman. In fact, seeing his transition from self-interested corporate stooge to self-interested freedom fighter is actually quite compelling. What's more, he never really has a revelation along the lines of "what we're doing is wrong," he more or less keeps getting deeper and deeper into the whole mess because of that ever-present self interest. First his career, and then fixing his rapidly changing DNA compel him to do what he does throughout the story, and it's presented in such a way that we the audience can almost pictures ourselves doing the same.

The final frame of the movie is also very compelling, and while it may or may not have set up a sequel, the director would have his work cut out for him if he tried.

The oversimple description to get friends to see this movie? Blood Diamond meets Alien Nation. Even simpler, Blood Diamond with aliens. In fact, you could Cavalcade this movie with Alien Nation, though the cuisine would have to be . . . funky.