Team America: World Police (Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray)

Popular Broadway actor Gary Johnston is recruited by the elite counter-terrorism organization Team America: World Police. As the world begins to crumble around him, he must battle with terrorists, celebrities and falling in love.

June 25, 2024 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

A movie doesn’t necessarily need to be Casablanca or Citizen Kane to be memorable. That was the idea that filmmakers Trey Parker and Matt Stone wanted to tackle with 2004’s Team America: World Police. As we all know, this is the creative duo behind Comedy Central’s South Park and what put them on the map. That or the odd appearance at the Academy Awards in 2000 where both were evidently on acid. Nice. Regardless of your opinion on these guys, they’ve made a name for themselves and South Park, as of this writing, has now been on the air for over a quarter of a century. That’s pretty impressive. They took their talents and made a film that could offend just about everyone and they used puppets to do it. Was it a stroke of genius? Seeing as how both filmmakers swore off doing any more future films, it might have not been a stroke of genius. Nevertheless, let’s get started.

We meet Gary Johnston (voiced by Trey Parker), a respected Broadway actor who’s starring in a musical – “Lease.” I’m sure we can connect the dots. There’s a show-stopping number called “Everyone has AIDS” just to add one more jab. Gary is approached by Team America, a government-sponsored anti-terrorism unit. They also have an unfortunate habit of wreaking havoc on the countries they’re attempting to save. The team needs a good actor to infiltrate the terrorist cell and learn the secret plans for attack. The leader of Team America, Spottswoode (voiced by Daran Norris) promises that the attack will be “9/11 times 100.” However Gary soon learns that the attack is being coordinated by North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il (also voiced by Trey Parker). Team America has to prevent him from unleashing his weapons upon the world.

No one or thing is off limits here. Parker and Stone seem to want to stick it to everyone. And they succeeded. Even Matt Damon, who helped produce the film, is lampooned on more than one occasion. I’m sure there’s some political strife here as well, perhaps that the United States feels the need to be the police of the world. I’ve never understood why. At any rate, at this point in time you’ve either seen this one a few dozen times or you’ve missed it completely. I can say that there’s a “sex scene” involving two puppets that made me laugh so hard I had to pause the film. Now that’s saying something. If this type of sophomoric humor is your thing – you’ll know what to expect. If not, watch a Disney movie.

Video: How’s it look?

I’ve reviewed thousands of titles over the past few decades but this might be the first and only film that’s starred puppets. That being said, Shout! Factory had put together a nice Blu-ray sourced from a 4K negative a year or so ago. Now that the title is back in Paramount’s hands, we get a true 4K offering and, well, it delivers. The 2.39:1 HEVC 4K image showcases all of the detail we’d expect. Strings are visible and, uh, “flesh tones” seem on par if we can call it that. There’s a nice balance of color and contrast as well, granted this all took place on a soundstage, but I can say that it’s never looked better. If you’ve been waiting the last two decades for a 4K version of this film (and you haven’t, since 4K wasn’t around in 2004) then your wait is over. And it’s worth it.

Audio: How’s it sound?

This appears to be the same soundtrack used on Shout’s disc as well. It’s a pretty standard DTS HD Master Audio mix that’s sure to please. Vocals, yes even “Mayett Daymun”, sound spot on. I found the use of surrounds a little more than what I was expecting, they resonate and give a few scenes a little more added “oomph.” By and large it’s a front-heavy mix and for a film of this nature I wasn’t expecting all that much. I was pleasantly surprised.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Team America: An Introduction – Matt Stone and Trey Parker give us the low down on the project as a whole, the nightmarish process to get it made and the arduous task of actually getting it made. Sounds fun.
  • Building the World – This one is pretty literal as production designer Jim Dultz, visual consultant David Rockwell, property master Brad Elliot, and set decorator Richard C. Walker give us the specifics on how some of the shots were made and so forth.
  • Crafting the Puppets – We’re joined with a slew of technical folks who, you guessed it, tell us how they brought the puppets to life and what it took the make and operate them through the shoot.
  • Pulling the Strings – If you’ve ever wondered how difficult it is to operate a puppet, talk to puppet art director Charles Chiodo, puppet producer Edward Chiodo, puppet supervisor Stephen Chiodo, principal puppeteer Kevin Carlson, puppet coordinator Frank Langley IV, and puppet designer Norman Tempia who give us the skinny on some of the more acquired skills they possess.
  • Capturing the Action – Cinematographer Bill Pope tells of the rather cumbersome task of filming this movie. I don’t envy him.
  • Miniature Pyrotechnics – Special effects supervisor Joseph Viskoci give us just that – a look at how some of the “little things” were blown up for the film.
  • Up Close with Kim Jong-Il – The film’s villain (and real-life one as well) is profiled right down to the custom glasses worn during the movie.
  • Dressing Room Test – Essentially some early, rough footage is shown.
  • Puppet Test – Basically more of the same from the above segment.
  • Deleted/Extended Scenes and Outtakes – We get just over six minutes of deleted and extended scenes that didn’t quite make the final cut.
  • Animated Storyboards – Twelve minutes’ worth
  • Theatrical Trailers

The Bottom Line

I’ll come out and say it, we all know this movie won’t be for everyone. Even a movie that’s now two decades old and we’ve become more and more desensitized – it’ll still offend. And to that I say “Good.” It hasn’t lost any of its edge and I’d say that, if anything, this movie might be more relevant now than when it was originally released. Paramount’s new 4K disc gives us a crystal clear picture, good sound and a nice array of supplements.

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