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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Satire > Political > Team America: World Police - Uncensored & Unrated (Paramount DVD)

Team America: World Police – Uncensored & Unrated


Picture: B     Sound: B-     Extras: B-     Film: B



Gerry and Sylvia Anderson created an entire cycle of great, advanced puppet/marionette television shows and dubbed their works SuperMarionation.  Recently, besides in some TV commercials and thanks to all those shows coming out in DVD sets from A&E (and all reviewed elsewhere on this site), new interest has surfaced in these shows.  A terrible live action version of Thunderbirds came out in 2004 and deservedly bombed, while Gerry Anderson himself is involved in a revival the best of these shows, Captain Scarlet.  However, the South Park team of Matt Stone & Trey Parker decided to send up the Jerry Bruckheimer cycle of action films among other things with Team America: World Police.


When released in 2004, it was edited down for an R-rating, which was met with mixed box office.  Now, three DVD versions have been issued and only one is the uncut edition, which is also widescreen.  Dubbed Uncensored & Uncut, the extras bits are not any more outrageous than the film itself turned out to be.  Some of the shocking bits are still to be found on the disc’s extras section in deleted scenes, but the politically charged satire had to compete theatrically with the news of war and the election in its overkill coverage.  Free of that, the shocks are for those who are victims of brainwashed self-censorship if this should be on screen and does using puppets make it better, worse, or flat out subversive?  Sean Penn was not happy, but that was because of how it did not take the current “terror war” seriously.  So what does that leave the viewer with?


Well, not only are all the Bruckheimer films sent up, most of the SuperMarionation series (except Captain Scarlet, the darkest and best of them all) are also bashed and then there are Hollywood actors, Broadway, AIDS, Michael Moore (who was so nice to feature Matt & Trey in a good light in Bowling For Columbine), sexuality, the action genre since the 1980s and even the military slant toys have taken since the 1980s is all here.  This is much more complex and clever than many viewers are likely to catch and dares to address things that have remain sadly unaddressed since way back to the early 1980s.


The film involves the title organization; a sort of private version of what America has been accused of often being, a police force of the world battling against terrorists all over the world.  Well, the post-9/11/01 situation has put a dent into that, but the film starts off with the bold gambit of putting the current era into an action genre light.  During Cold War action films, the fantasy/release segment where the hero gets rid of the villain who needed to be “offed” was a big piece of the 1980s formula, more intensely so than the often better worked out variant in James Bond films.  Some would say it was more reactionary and even Fascist.  Here, the send up has the Team doing more harm than good and paying a price.  Some to many will still not get it.


Though the puppeteering is remarkable, complex and accompanying set designs stunning, the twists include intentionally bad puppeteering for fight scenes and walking, fun with the facial expressions you would never see on a regular puppet show and intentionally cheap vehicle travel and design.  All the sudden, any time a plane, car, dune buggy, boat or truck shows up, it looks like toys for 3 ¾” action figures of the 1980s that were the War lines, not the Star Wars and space lines.  In effect, all the sequences ape the early TV commercials for these products and how they used a bandwagon appeal that said blind faith and essentially blind aggressive action/war stance.  This is particularly aimed at the shocking successful G.I. Joe revival line, which is now very valuable and is back, but also to all its imitators and tie-ins to like-minded lines for the Rambo films.  Between that mentality and the figures on the media Left the film goes after, few are spared the wrath of dark satirical critique the film offers at its crux.


But then this is a comedy.  Kim Jong-Il is also sent up, the isolationist leader of North Korea and ever-present nuclear threat as of this posting, including a funny musical moment.  As in the South Park feature film, the music is good and offers its own unexpected zingers.  The film is also happy to show all the strings on al the puppets and celebrates the phoniness as it shows off the amazing work it takes to bring this off.  The big problem with the film is it starts to loose stream towards the end with one too many homosexuality jokes and situations, which might be sacrilege to the whole 1980s militarist-for-kids mentality, but still hurts the film in the long run.  Otherwise, Team America: World Police is a fascinating work made boldly at the most problematic of moments in the real world.  It can only appreciate in value as time goes on, including vindication of some of its most daring points.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 x 1 image looks very good here, offering all the depth and detail the extensive model and puppet work has to offer.  A lack of overdigitalization is a plus and cinematographer Bill Pope, A.S.C., found this a welcome change from all his digital and “bullet time” shooting for films like The Matrix.  The transfer is a pleasant surprise.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix has some odd limits that did not seem like it was that restricted in the theatrical presentations.  Maybe a later DTS edition would remedy this, but the audio presentation misses the mark.  Overall, this is a good playback combination, but do not have high expectations on the sound.


The extras are all centered on the production, with no commentary available.  You do get 2 trailers, the noted deleted scenes, extended scenes, animation storyboards, and nine segments on making the puppets and sets for them.  They are interesting, but there is so much more too say and see about this film, so the extras seem some how limited overall despite their quantity.  With that said, this uncut Team America: World Police is well rounded enough and the only edition anyone should really bother with.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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