The A-Team

In a year filled with ensemble action movies, The A-Team was surely the one with the best known back story?  Maybe that didn’t do it any favours.  While many of us loved the series, at the time, countless repeats and plenty of piss taking later meant there were concerns about it transferring to the big screen.

Would the new actors be able to pull off the old characters?  Would it feel like a sad pastiche?  Would we accept the new faces in the old roles?  Would they be bogged down by the memories of countless episodes in which no one gets seriously injured, not even the bad guys?  Would a modern audience accept the ludicrous solutions the team are well known for?

I’d heard mixed reviews about the film before sitting down to watch it – and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.  Someone I know said ‘do they expect us to believe this shit?’  Well, my answer is no, they don’t.  They know it’s unbelievable, but they don’t care.  If you want to enjoy this movie you’ll take the step and willingly suspend your disbelief.  If you have no intention or ability to do that – then the director isn’t interested in trying to entertain you.

The A-Team tells the story of how the famous four get together, the crime they are supposed to have committed and the attempt at clearing their own names.  It’s a contemporary set-up for the series, a prequel, and as such a very clever decision.  Just another long episode would have been harder to pull off, but giving us the start of the story in an up-to-date setting worked very well.

The actors take on the roles without ever really trying to do second rate impressions of the previous team, for which I was quite grateful.  There’s a moment early in the movie where they crush BA’s van which is almost a statement from the director – yes, these are the same guys, but no, this is not the same cheesy 80’s series.

From that moment the action ramps up and we are led through a series of chases, captures, and betrayals that get us to the defining moment – when the team must break out of prison, prove their innocence and save the girl.

It’s funny, it’s totally entertaining and it’s entirely insane.  It’s everything that was good about the A-Team without the 80’s cheese, instead, it brings along the 80’s vibe and the 80’s good feeling.  There’s clearly room for a sequel, and I’d quite happily go and see it.

Prepare to Launch

I’ve waxed nostalgic about computers before, and I’m going to do so again.  This time, it’s the fault of team members at work.  After a short conversation about The Hobbit (movie, lack of progression), a colleague reminded me of the ZX Spectrum adventure game based on the book.  Oddly, we both remembered getting stuck in the same place.  That in itself isn’t amazing, it was obviously the place to get stuck when you played The Hobbit, what’s amazing is that it’s approaching 30 years since the game was released (1982), and it’s around 25 years or so since we played it.

25 years.  And we still remember where we got stuck.  Anyway, that led to a range of discussions of the humble ZX Spectrum, including Sabre Wulf and how you can’t download it for emulators because the copyright holders still exist and refuse to allow it (in case they want to cash in on their 25 year old intellectual property).  I also, badly, tried to do an impression of the first digitised speech I heard in a computer game.  It was a game on the ZX Spectrum, and I knew it was some kind of space game, but couldn’t remember the name.  I’ve been quoting the phrase ‘prepare to launch’ in a stupid, static-laden voice since I was in my teens.  I still do it now if I hear that phrase on the TV or talk about the first speech I heard in a game.

A couple of years ago, I blogged about Wing Commander (here) and how I’m still quoting stuff from my early life – and this Spectrum game was no different.

Luckily, we have The Internet, and a quick bit of googling and I found the game.  Death Star Interceptor.  Amazingly, the game had a tie-in license with Star Wars, and uses music and themes from the film (including the Death Star).  Essentially you have to launch your interceptor (which is annoyingly hard, straight off the bat), shoot down some tie-fighters and then fly along a trench to blow up the Death Star.  I can’t remember if I ever beat the game or not, or if you even can.  But I do remember the speech.  And thanks to a little emulator, now you can too.  Have a listen, see if my impression is any good (click the text!)


I just spent 10 minutes playing the game, and after a few minutes of getting hit by flying tie-fighters I got a little better.  I didn’t get better because I was learning how to play, I got better because I was remembering how to play!  From 25 years ago.  I still remember how to play this bloody game.  I sometimes can’t remember what I ate for dinner yesterday but I can sure as hell remember how to play an obscure shoot-em-up from a Spectrum game in the mid 80’s.  Nice.

I’ve got a real computer nostalgia kick going on right now, I’m sure there’ll be more blog posts to come!