This week at the movies, we’ve got a pair of 1980s reboots, one featuring a band of ragtag mercenaries (The A-Team, starring Liam Neeson and Bradley Cooper), and another about an aspiring martial artist (The Karate Kid, starring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan). What do the critics have to say?
Don’t you love it when a plan (or, in this case, a remake) comes together? And since we’re asking questions, is there anything wrong with a big dumb action flick every once in a while? The critics would likely answer yes to the former question, but on the later they’re largely split — at least in the case of The A-Team. For those of you who didn’t grow up in the 1980s, this is the tale of a crack commando unit that was sent to prison for a crime they didn’t commit. They promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade; today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune, hoping to defeat the bad guys and clear their names. The pundits say if you like mindless action with a wink and a nod, you could do a lot worse than this reboot, which executes its set pieces with plenty of panache. If, however, you’re a fan of character development and plot, you’ve come to the wrong place.
A treasured highlight of 1980s mainstream cinema, The Karate Kid may not be a classic, but it’s got plenty of heart and charm. So, how does the remake fare? Not too badly, say critics, even if this appealing, energetic movie adheres to the plot of the original like it’s a sacred text. Jaden Smith stars as Dre, a youngster who moves to China with his mother; after running afoul of the local bully, Dre comes under the tutelage of the wise, subdued Mr. Han (Jackie Chan), who teaches him a thing or two about both martial arts and life. The pundits say this Karate Kid is slickly mounted, and benefits greatly from strong performances (particularly Chan, who lends heft and melancholy to the Mr. Miyagi role). However, some find the note-for-note retelling of the first Kid simply reinforces how dated the material is. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run down Jackie Chan’s best reviewed movies.)
Also opening this week in limited release: