April 2, 2013

Movie Review: G.I. Joe - Retaliation

The second G.I. Joe movie as finally arrived. It only took a nine-month delay, a 3D post-conversion and some extra scenes inserted. I am not sure I will ever bother to look up the real reasons for the delay, but I suspect it was, at least partially, due to a studio afraid of a potential bomb and using the 3D ticket premium to help front load it and guard against a low opening gross. Either way, I was already interested in seeing it. It looked better than the first and I am also in for the nostalgia reasons, I did love me some G.I. Joe when I was a kid.

This second installment of the Joe franchise immediately sets about cleaning house, acting almost like a franchise reboot. After a couple of introductory sequences that reacquaint us with team leader Duke (Channing Tatum) and his second in command, Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), the team is sent to North Korea where they are attacked, slaughtered and left for dead. The team are said to have committed treason and been terminated by the President, an imposter put in place by Cobra.

With that setup out of the way, the remaining Joes are forced underground where they plot a strike back at the terrorist Cobra forces that control the White House. Meanwhile, Cobra Commander is back in charge and has a weapon capable of destroying entire cities. A secondary story features silent Joe ninja, Snake Eyes (Ray Park), out to find his former friend Storm Shadow (Byun-Hun Lee), in a thread that ties directly back to fighting Cobra in the US.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation brings with it a brand of nonsense it can call its own, a logic whose pedigree can likely be traced back to the cartoon series. When attempting to watch this movie, it is best to be aware of the jumpiness of the tale and just go with it. The movie is all over the map, moving between story threads at will, almost mid-sentence at times. Fortunately, everything holds together in the end.

There is nothing particularly new or fresh about the story, but it still manages to be rather entertaining. It moves quickly, jumps around so you never get tired of any one story element and includes some solid action. The Park/Lee finger is solid, as is the zip line chase, there are some nice shootouts, and an exciting prison escape. This is a nonsense cartoon tale sprung to life. It is a step up from the original film, embracing more of the campiness and more designs from the source like those Cobra tanks and the nicely designed Cobra Commander mask, not to mention taking the lips off of Snake Eyes mask.

The story is simple, the action plentiful, the acting mediocre, all this adds up to a fun time. It is certainly worth checking out if you are an old fan of the Joes or if you just like goofy action movies. I would recommend against the 3D version, I had seen an extended preview of it that way and it just did not look good.


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