‘The A-Team’
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Movies: Back to the ‘80s

By Rachel Abramowitz, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

If you suddenly feel as if it’s 1984, you’re not alone. What’s coming to your local cineplex? “Clash of the Titans,” “Red Dawn,” “The Thing” and that perennial favorite “The Karate Kid.”

Yes, the ‘80s are back with a vengeance, in all their high-concept, brightly lighted glory. Hollywood has always had a passion for recycling, but that’s grown into a fervor in a risk-adverse business climate. Now that the ‘70s have been fully plundered, studios are attacking the Reagan years, and remaking pop culture icons, as fast as the rights can be nailed down.

Case in point: “The A-Team.”

Adios Mr. T, with your bling and Mohawk. Now it’s former Ultimate Fighting Championship champ Quinton “Rampage” Jackson who stars as B.A. “Bad Attitude” Baracus, alongside Bradley Cooper, left, Sharlto Copley, Liam Neeson and Jessica Biel as a group of Iraq vets seeking to clear their names after being accused of a crime they invariably didn’t commit. The film is slicker than the TV campfest, but director Joe Carnahan (“Smokin’ Aces”) promises there will be a return of such quintessential lines as “I love it when a plan comes together!”

“I wanted to honor and doff my cap to what ‘The A-Team’ was, while not completely going straight down the line,” says Carnahan. “The approach is pedal to the metal as much as possible.” (Michael Muller / 20th Century Fox)
Forget Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith, Burgess Meredith and Harry Hamlin in a fluffy white toga -- and the stop-motion animation of Ray Harryhausen that brought Medusa to life. That is so 1981. In the 2010 version, expect “Avatar” he-man Sam Worthington as the new macho Perseus battling Medusa (pictured) and the Kraken in 3-D, with a beefed-up relationship with Zeus (played by Liam Neeson).

Ironically, Medusa is portrayed by one of the most beautiful women in the world, Russian model Natalia Vodianova. Producer Basil Iwanyk says that, according to Greek mythology, “Medusa was the most beautiful girl in her town. She was raped by Poseidon and then she sought solace in Athena’s temple. But because she needed to be a virgin to enter Athena’s temple, Athena cursed Medusa and made her the most ugly woman in the world. What we wanted was beneath the augmented visual effects and horrible body and all the creepiness, deep down was this once beautiful girl.”

In preproduction, the filmmakers “mapped her face and movement” to better create the CGI character. “She never set foot on the set.” (Warner Bros.)
We’re not in Reseda anymore, baby. That’s the California town where Ralph Macchio learned his karate. By contrast, the new “Karate Kid” has gone global, i.e. to China. The idea for the remake came from superstar Will Smith, who wanted to find a project for his son, Jaden. And voila, the film, already with four installments, is getting a new one. The latest features Jaden Smith as a Rust Belt kid who moves to China when his mom gets a job there, and he learns martial arts from a mentor played by Jackie Chan. Don’t expect fast-flying teenage hormones or sexual frisson with nubile teenagers, such as the one played in the original by Elisabeth Shue. Though Macchio’s character was a high school senior, Jaden Smith is only 11. (Jasin Boland / Sony Pictures)
Instead of spoofing the oeuvre of ‘80s action films, “The Expendables” actually reunited the stars of the era -- Sylvester Stallone (pictured), Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dolph Lundgren -- alongside more modern action heroes such as Jet Li and Jason Statham. This time, it’s about a group of mercenaries heading to South America to overthrow a dictator. Stallone co-wrote and directs. (Karen Ballard / Lionsgate)
OK, this isn’t actually a remake, either -- more a nostalgia jaunt to the era of legwarmers, casual sex and “Back to the Future,” as a group of unhappy middle-aged guys returns to the halcyon days of 1986 via a time-traveling Jacuzzi. John Cusack -- hero of such ‘80s flicks as “Sixteen Candles,” “Stand by Me” and “Class” -- adds a dash of Pirandello-esque authenticity. Above, left to right: Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry, Cusack and Clark Duke. (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures)
The Wall Street financial meltdown has been bad for everybody except perhaps Gordon Gekko, who now has a timely reason to return to the screen after spending many years in the joint for insider trading. Michael Douglas, left, comes back to swagger, while Shia LaBeouf takes on the Charlie Sheen, rising protege role. Carey Mulligan, Susan Sarandon and Josh Brolin also star -- for who else? Oliver Stone. (Barry Wetcher / 20th Century Fox)
Inspired by the “Saturday Night Live” skit, this film is an homage to the ‘80s canon popularized by “Lethal Weapon,” “Die Hard,” “Rambo,” “Total Recall” and, of course, the TV show “MacGyver.” Lots of smoke, gear montages and action seen in full frame. Ryan Phillipe, left, Will Forte and Kristen Wiig star alongside familiar faces, not seen too recently at the cineplex: Val Kilmer and Powers Boothe. (Greg Peters / Rogue Pictures)
Who ya gonna call? Bill Murray, left, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis are apparently on board to star in a film written by Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky of “The Office” and “Year One” fame. Despite Internet rumors, the studio says Ivan Reitman is developing to direct. It’s hard to dislodge any of the original “Ghostbuster” players, as the Mike Ovitz-era talent contracts reportedly give them each the right to unilaterally nuke any sequel. (Columbia Pictures)
They were small, blue and cute as a button on TV in the ‘80s (as shown above). But this time the Smurfs are no longer simply thriving as Saturday morning cartoons or the beloved collectibles of tween girls. A new film will combine live action and animation in a tale about what happens when a band of Smurfs ends up in our world. Neil Patrick Harris stars, and various Smurf voices are played by Katy Perry, Kevin James and George Lopez. But, alas, the rumor is not true that Quentin Tarantino is playing Brainy Smurf. (File photo)
Remember the Fox series starring a swoony Johnny Depp (center)? This time, the story of undercover cops in high school is going in a more comedic direction. But you can get the gist by learning this fact: Jonah Hill is co-writing and slated to star. (Fox)