Sunday, March 31, 2013

Review 148: "G.I. Joe: Retaliation"

No, Joe. Just no.

 Cobra in Command

      I wasn't particularly a fan of the original G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. It was silly, convoluted, poorly-acted and forgettable. So of course they made a sequel! Actually, I had been looking forward to this movie when it was supposed to be released last June. The trailers were often really cool and the new cast seemed pretty good too. Then it got delayed 10 months.Yeah, let's just say that was a nice warning. Directed by Jon M. Chu (Step Up 3D) and written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Co-writers of Zombieland), the film follows the G.I. Joes, whose numbers have run low after Cobra, who has taken over the U.S. government, decimates the team. The only remaining members, Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson, Fast Five), Snake Eyes (Ray Park, X-Men), Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki, Friday Night Lights), Jinx (Elodie Yung, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)) and Flint (D.J. Cotrona, Dear John) turn to former Joe, Joe (Bruce Willis, RED) to help stop Zartan (Arnold Vosloo, 24), who is impersonating the President (Jonathan Pryce, Hysteria) and is working with Cobra Commander (Luke Bracey, Dance Academy), Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee, I Saw the Devil) and Firefly (Ray Stevenson, Punisher: War Zone). 

"Oooh, shiny."
New Package, Same Story

      The problems I had with G.I. Joe: Retaliation are the same problems I had with G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. For the most part, the movie never gets going and just kinda slogs it's way through it's runtime. The characters here are no better than the ones before. While I'd still gladly watch a solo Snake Eyes movie, every other character just flops. No one here really feels like they are good enough to be a Joe and the ones who do barely get any screen time. Snake Eyes and Jinx get one major fight scene and a short subplot before becoming background characters for the final act. And despite how much the marketing wants you to know Bruce Willis is in this movie, he probably only has about 10 minutes in the whole, making his role a glorified cameo. Roadblock, even with The Rock's likability, is hardly impressive and comes off as every cliched action hero ever committed to screen. Jaye, again, despite Palicki's surprising likability, spend most of the movie wearing skimpy and revealing outfits as a way to trick men into giving her information. Gee, I guess her Father would be proud. And Flint..., I'm sorry who was he? I never felt a connection to any of these characters, other than Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow and the President, the only actors having fun in this movie. It's incredibly hard to care about the story. Not that you could follow it if you wanted to. 

Less is Not More

      One thing to note about G.I. Joe: Retaliation is that despite it's large budget and massive marketing efforts (And costly delay), is that the film is at a much smaller scale than the first one. The first one ended with a giant underwater and ice submarine battle outside an underwater frozen villain HQ. Here, we get a few tanks and gunmen shooting out in a bunker, a small island in a river and an estate. Woooo? In fact the action is so rare that the film doesn't actually feel like it's about to end... and then it does. The climax blows by as you are waiting for the big final set piece. What fight scenes we do have are a few shaky cam messes in the beginning and the final letdown. In the middle, there is a cliff side fight between Snake Eyes, Jinx and some ninjas, which is actually REALLY awesome and serves as the best part of the whole film. Other than that, the film and especially it's story definitely feel like they have been edited to death, in particular a few early reshoots in order to add a few more scenes with an actor who recently fell into popularity. The film jumps between storylines and characters seemingly at random and at times it's hard to tell who's a good guy and who's a bad guy. There are even a few fun plot holes to rip open. As we've all seen in the trailer, but still SPOILER WARNING, downtown London is turned into a crater by Cobra. After this in the film, the Joes win and are called heroes and CObra is defeated for now and everything is back to normal. Except it wouldn't be because war would most certainly break out if the whole of London was destroyed and millions were dead! 

What is The Rock looking at?
The Verdict

      G.I. Joe: Retaliation is, for me at least, the first real disappointment of 2013. I mean, we all basically knew A Good Day to Die Hard would suck, but there were still hopes for this one. But, the delay was more than enough warning it seemed, seeing as how the film is a messy bore. Pretty much all the fight scenes are spoiled in the trailer, which is a better movie than this one will ever be. The characters are all lame and uninteresting, despite some game performances. The film feels surprisingly cheap and the whole thing shows clear signs of heavy editing. How is it this hard to make a G.I. Joe movie? G.I. Joe: Retaliation gets 3 stars out of 6.

Bonus Trivia

- The film was going to be called G.I Joe: Cobra Strikes. Gee, I can't decide what title sounds lamer.

- Roadblock was supposed to be in the first film.

- That's about it. Which is all that movie really needs anyway.

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