It would be hard to find a filmgoer who does not lament Hollywood’s recent obsession with cannibalizing itself, remaking the hits of yesteryear in a vain attempt to draw shrinking audiences to ever-more-expensive spectacles. Once in a blue moon these remakes are spectacular (like Christopher Nolan’s reboot of the Batman franchise); more often they are profound disappointments that only serve to remind us of the old aphorism that one really can’t go home again.
I strongly suspect that Joe Carnahan’s A-Team film is going to fall squarely into the disappointment side of the divide. It’s based on a campy 1980s television show about an improbable premise; the show’s television plotlines regularly stretched the boundaries of credibility (something that its kiddie audience of the time could easily overlook; adults, less so); and Jessica Biel features in the cast of the new movie. If there is an internationally recognised signal for poor filmmaking, that signal is Ms. Biel. Yes, she is a very pretty woman, and we would doubtless extend her great courtesy should we ever make her acquaintance. But someone looking over her filmography could be forgiven for thinking that her agent is actually trying to destroy her career, with some success.
Regrettably, recent news from British Columbia is telling me that I will be required to see this film (although likely not first-run in theatres). Mr. David Wiwchar for AlberniPortal.ca notes that the gargantuan Hawaii Mars, a 63-year-old Martin JRM-1 flying-boat, has a moment in the limelight for the A-Team film. (Note that there are spoilers in the linked article, but not in what I have excerpted below.)
PORT ALBERNI – The Hawaii Mars performed in front of the cameras Thursday, as the plane has a starring role in the big-screen version of the popular 1980’s TV show ‘The A-Team’.
Large movie cameras were mounted on a pair of helicopters and also on boats, as the crew of Hawaii Mars performed multiple “touch-and-go” take-offs, landings and aerial maneuvers near Vancouver.
…Originally, the second Coulson Flying Tanker ‘Phillipine Mars’ was supposed to do the flight since 20th Century Fox invested almost $200,000 to improve the planes airworthiness, with Hawaii Mars busy fighting fires in California. But as the filming schedule dragged on, the Hawaii Mars returned from Lake Elsinore and became available for the filming.
…The BC Government has asked Coulson Water Tankers owner Wayne Coulson if the Hawaii Mars could perform a few water drops in Burrard Inlet during the upcoming Olympic festivities, so the break in filming allowed crew members to plan for the event.
— Wiwchar, David. “Hawaii Mars Movie Star.” AlberniPortal.ca, 8 January 2010.
The linked article also includes a small image of Port Alberni seen through Hawaii Mars‘ cockpit windows; I have reproduced it here so you may avoid the spoilers.
One wonders if part of that $200,000 upgrade package for sister ship Philippine Mars also included an instrument panel upgrade for Hawaii Mars. This July 2006 photo from Flickr user World Wide Murman shows a panel comprised of old steam gauges, with even the more contemporary radio stack containing many components (Nav, ADF transceivers and transponder) that are about as old as I am. The Technisonic TFM-138 VHF/FM transceiver is probably the youngest component in that panel; even the GPS (a Garmin GPS 150) has since been discontinued:
Compared to the July 2006 photos, the AlberniPortal.ca image seems to show a very nice retrofit of a Garmin G600 “glass cockpit” PFD/MFD combination, plus new components in the radio stack.
The flying-boat’s role in February’s Winter Olympics is also noteworthy; I wonder if it part of the opening ceremonies, or merely a sideshow to keep people entertained during the actual sporting events.
MYSTERY SOLVED: Flickr user Tom Harnish has captured a more recent (October 2009) image of Hawaii Mars‘ instrument panel. The PFD/MFD pair is definitely a Garmin G600 system. The separate NAV/COM/ADF transceivers have been replaced by a pair of Garmin GNS 430Ws; these are all-in-one GPS/Nav/Com solutions. The existing Technisonic TFM-138 VHF transceiver has been supplemented with an additional (and newer) TFM-138B model, and the XPDR is now a Garmin GTX 330 (or its lesser but similarly-styled sibling, the GTX 327).
Not a bad facelift for a plane that was built before even basic VORs were invented.
RELATED: The trailer for the A-Team film; scheduled for release June 11th, 2010.