Wednesday, April 3, 2013

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Get out your Cobra vipers and HISS tanks, we're reviewing G.I. Joe: Retaliation!

The president(Jonathan Pryce), who's really Zartan(Arnold Vosloo) in disguise, orders a strike on the G.I. Joes in an insidious plan for world domination from Cobra. Now it's up to the remainign Joes, Roadblock(Dwane Johnson), Snake Eyes(Ray Park), Lady Jaye(Adrianne Palicki) and Flint(D. J. Cotrona) to find help, clear their name, and save the world!

This is a lot less ridiculous and fun than I wanted it to be. It's still ok, but it is taking itself way too seriously. It's an odd mix of using some of the weirder parts of the GI Joe mythos while having a script that plays more like a Call of Duty game.  And I was excited because it could have been a live-action adaptation of the GREAT G.I. Joe Renegades, in which the Joes are on the run from the military and Cobra look like the good guys, but it just isn't that good.

Can we just have an entire movie of The Rock and Channing Tatum playing Black Ops badly? I think that would be waaaay more fun. Yes, that is a scene in the movie, and kind of relevant considering the firs half hour or so feels like a movie rendition of a Call of Duty shooter. That sounds halfway cool until you realize that it could have been like a G. I. Joe game.

The first G. I. Joe, which I really liked, at least felt like it was having fun. This feels like a straight-up military action blockbuster with the fewest of hints of the G.I. Joe outlandishness. Cobra Comander looks more like Cobra Commander, but all he does is talk in a ridiculously low tone while walking around slowly. At least Joseph-Gordon Levitt's Cobra Commander was silly, wispy and had character. Oh, and major points off for not including Baronness or Destro AT ALL. Cobra Commander basically turns to Destro in his containment tank and goes, "Yeah sorry, we couldn't figure out how to do your mask properly, to be you."

It's incredibly odd how much they don't use from the previous movie, while still keeping major lot points from it. Gone is the huge underground base and future tech of the G.I. Joe based and instead replaced with a handful of soldiers.  Ripcord is replaced with Roadblock, even though he was Duke's best friend in the movie, and no one explains why Duke has traded black best friends. Scarlet is replaced with Lady Jaye, which is the strangest because she looks nothing like how Lady Jaye usually looks in the G.I. Joe universe but a Scarlet knockoff.
Is it Scarlet or Lady Jaye?
Who cares!

At least they still have Snake Eyes because you can't do a G.I. Joe movie without Snake Eyes. Dwane Johnson does an alright job as Roadblock, and Lady Jaye is there...looking prety I guess? For all the seriousness this movie is trying to get across, there's no meaningful feeling to any of the character arcs. Roadblock is supposed to be anxious about not getting promoted and having to take responsibility, but once he's put in charge of everyone it doesn't go anywhere. No doubt or second thoughts or crisis on leading, nothing.

Lady Jaye looks pretty, and that's basically all she does. She has this rant about how her father never saw her as a soldier and she wanted to prove her badassness, and Flint, to help her self esteem goes, "Well, you look pretty". This is of course after we get a scene of him catching glimpses of her changing clothes, while she's talking about her father, and after 2 previous scenes in which her main job is to look pretty. Good job on the woman front, movie. And speaking of Flint, he's a non-entity. No character, no arc, he could have been soldier #4 for all the personality he added.

It's odd how they'll spend way too much time on certain boring scenes, then just randomly throw in characters with barely any backstory or meaning. That's how we meet Jinx, who's Storm Shadow's cousin? You'd think that would be an interesting story plot but Jinx barely gets two lines of dialogie in. And Snake Eyes gets zero! Ahhh I kid. But in all seriousness, there's this whole backstory between Storm Shadow, Jinx, Snake Eyes and their master and it's barely mentioned even though it's kind of a big plot point for the movie. Why do they spend barely any time on the asian characters while all the american characters get to stand around and chat and I'm jsut going to shut up now. Also,  RZA still cannot act for his life.  At least Byung-Hun Lee as Storm Shadow fights with his shirt off. Your welcome Ladies.  Wait, didn't he die in the last movie? The hell?

Look at me talking about story in a movie that's obviously supposed to be all about the action! That's because there's basically three interesting action scenes. And it's a shame because the action scenes are really rather exciting and shot really well! And the 3D is...adequate.  For what it cost in delaying the movie another year, the 3D effects aren't amazing, but they're pretty good. The high point is the ninja scene, which even after all the ads and extended previews, still looks pretty badass. I feel like if maybe the movie had a bigger budget or a better script and a hell of a ton more action scenes this could have been great, because I think Jon Chu has the makings of a great visual storyteller.

If there was ever a movie that was a good argument for America's inherent love of guns and over-indulgent gun culture, this movie is it. It feels like straight-up gun porn, to the point I feel uncomfortable with how much everyone stands around admiring guns.  Bruce Willis has a guns stashed everwhere in his house and the Joes look at them like teenagers who've met their friend that discovered their dad's good porn collection. "mmm, oh yeah, look at this baby, oh that's a big one." Get a room you guys.
Those are fireflies, not stick flies, by the way.
Oh and you know those action scenes with Bruce Willis in the trailers? That is basically all he does. Don't come see this for Bruce WIllis; he's just guest starring.

The inclusion of Firefly(Ray Stevenson) on the other hand, is one of the high points. He's a cool character and the exploding fireflies he controls are one of the high points of the movie. I'm not really sure what he's trying to do with his accent though. Still, he gets some pretty good fight scenes. And Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow are cool, but that's kind of expected.

The story is quite dumb, though not in the entertaining way.  Though it's weird how I really like Cobra's endgame world controlling plan. I wanted them to go more full-on crazy, but the plan they have is pretty balsy and...ultimately makes the world a better place? The Hell?

I also rather enjoyed the soundtrack. It's very actiony, very technoy, a bit dubstepy. It's pretty entertainign is what I'm saying.

Overall this makes me miss G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra. How dare you for making me feel this way, G.I. Joe Retaliation! You were suppsoed to be better than this! At least Rise of Cobra has lasers and super suits and crazy metal eating viruses and Destro and Baronness, and you know what, jsut go watch that again. That is what fun is.  This is just not that great.

THE GOOD: Some great action scenes, ninjas, firefly is cool, a few funny lines, good soundtrack, Cobra Comander looks good, COBRA has a good plan, Channing Tatum and the rock playing videogames, shirtless storm shadow and pretty Lady Jaye?

THE BAD: Not as ridiculous or fun as the last one, doesn't have the GI Joe spirit, action scens are few, serious but with the story going nowhere, Bruce Willis barely there, Lady Jaye and Jinx barely do anything, barely anyone from the previous movie, Cobra Commander doesn't do anything, no Joseph Gordon-Levitt Cobra Commander, No Destro, Flint is boring, RZA still cannot act.

THE VERDICT: $$$ There are a lot of fun parts to it, and some great, well-directed action scenes, but there's still a lot that's just not that great. The 3D is not amazing, but it's not terrible.  Soooo maybe?

MOVIES LIKE IT: G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra, Faster, Man with the Iron Fists, Fast Five, Transformers, Battleship, G.I. Joe: Renegades

ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: In the final confrontation, Cobra Commander walks in, explains his plan, then when everything gets crazy, he walks out, gets on a helicopter and leaves. He did nothing and looked snazzy doing it. What was the point? What happened, Cobra?

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