Review – G.I. Joe Retaliation

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Mike Fraser: http://www.mikeshouseofmovies.com

I’ve always been a huge GI Joe fan when i was a kid. Never missed the cartoon, well at least in the first two seasons, when it was good. Lately there has been a resurgence in the franchise with the new animated series GI JOE: RENEGADES, which is what part of the plot of Retaliation is base on, and the new movies.

I loved the first movie. It was over the top, fun, and I thought it brought the right amount of cheese to the battle, just like the comics and the cartoon. We do have to remember that this franchise of movies is based off a toy, comic, cartoon line that is just as cheesy. I loved the characters in the first movie Rise of Cobra and I liked the direction it was taking.

Jump to 2012 which is the year Retaliation was supposed to be released. It was delayed due to the audience wanting more Channing Tatum as Duke, so it was delayed and more scenes were added. Now that Retaliation is finally released we can sit down and take a look at how it stacks up to the first one.

Before we do that let’s recap at what the story is about. The Joes are called in to disable and take away nuclear weapons. Snake Eyes is caught for murder and is taken to the subterranean prision to be held captive where Cobra Commander and Destro are being held.

There is an attack on the Joes while they are waiting for extraction and the President of the United States declares the Joes are no more. They are turned on by the country because of Cobra, which is where they borrow a little from the cartoon Renegades.

This time around we have Duke, Roadblock, Lady Jaye, Flint and Mousetrap, as well as Jinx and Snake Eyes. The characters all work for the most part and at the first part of the movie, it was a good and fun time by all and started very enjoyable.

The director this time around is Jon M. Chu, director of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, and two of the Step Up movies. This is where the movie really falters. Chu just doesn’t seem to know how to properly direct action sequences, and there are a lot of them. He piles on poorly choreographed scenes that are not only directed poorly but also poorly edited to a point where some of it can be hard to follow.

Though what these scenes are really lacking is the fun the first movie had. The battles Chu wanted to be more grounded in reality, which make them out of place in such a fantastical world. That’s why the battles in the first one worked so well was because they were over the top and were fluid. These actions scenes just seemed stiff and didn’t flow well, which once the movie gets going makes for a long sit.

The best part about the movie was the interactions between Duke(Tatum) and Roadblock(Dwayne Johnson). Their chemistry worked very well and they were a delight to see on screen. The acting was good for the style movie, though the sparse and terrible dialogue left a little to be desired. I know it’s not supposed to be Shakespeare, but at least have some fun dialogue that could possible seem like it works.

This time we have a proper looking Cobra Commander with his shiny faceplate mask with the Cobra insignia. He really looked cool and felt the part of the leader of the Cobra Organization, though he wasn’t a whimpering fool like in the cartoons. Destro is nowhere to be seen except for in the prision.

The rest of the story is Cobra trying to take over the world with it’s new Zeus weapons. Satellites locked on to countries which can be obliterated at the push of a button.

What ultimately brings down the movie is the poor directing teamed with terrible editing. It throws the pacing all over the place and really kills what should have been BIG action set pieces. The effects this time were better but some scenes (avalanche on cliff) looked terrible in the wide shot and if the shot was tighter would have played better on the eyes. One thing that did bother me is that the other characters with masks, Storm Shadow and Firefly kept taking them off. Why keep a mask if you are just going to keep taking it off, which is something they didn’t do in the show and should have carried over to the movie.

Will it do well this Easter weekend, I think it will. My wife and I were there for the 9:30 showing and there was a line up and the theatre was pretty packed. Does it have the legs of the first one? It probably doesn’t but with Dwayne Johnson it should have some big pull at the box office.

One more thing, Bruce Willis is in it, but doesn’t have a lot of screen time. Though when he is on screen has some of the better one liners of the movie.

I have to give this movie 2 stars out of 5. The interactions between Duke and Roadblock made it fun, which is what it should have been through the rest of the movie. If you really must see this film in theatres wait until a matinee to save the money, otherwise wait for the DVD/Redbox/Netflix treatment. It definitely not worth the full price of admission. Now you know…and knowing is half the battle. Till next time my friends.

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