Starring: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Bruce Willis, and Channing Tatum
Directed by: Jon M. Chu
“The World ain’t saving itself.”
The end of the summer 2009 movie run was brought to shame by the overall disappointing film release of G.I Joe: Rise of Cobra. The memorable characters from the beloved comic books and cartoon series were presented in a completely failed plot, leaving fans with a bad taste in their mouth. Flash to 2013 the sequel G.I. Joe: Retaliation begged for redemption but was met with low expectations. While it boasted an impressive cast, can it save this sequel from the shame of its predecessor?
The animated G.I. Joe cartoon from the 80’s brought forth fantastical patriotic views featuring Public Service Announcements with the slogan, “Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.” Who could forget the rip roaring action adventures that had the Joes saving America and often times the entire world, on a regular basis? These Joes were heroes to look up to. They were smart and fun, with catchy phrases that got stuck in a kids head. It is a large reputation to live up to, and who would want to attempt such a thing? I myself had been anticipating sitting in a movie theater and seeing some of my favorite heroes brought to life because there is nothing better than feeling like a kid again. I wanted so much to enjoy every moment of patriotism and feel female empowerment through characters Lady Jaye and Jinx, but sadly, all this sequel brought me was confusion, frustration, heaps of large explosions and a handful of pop culture references.
With the addition of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as main character Roadblock to the cast, a little encouragement from action film hero Bruce Willis, and the returning Channing Tatum as Duke, the sequel starts off with the promise of a cast that knows how to bring the big action. Within the first few sequences the film makes some jokes using Dwayne Johnson as both the large gun toting hero, and the secondary comic relief to the young and fun-loving Duke (Tatum). However, quickly following the light hearted banter the action starts up, and the confusion begins. The audience is pulled in by the back story of G.I. Joe Ninja Snake Eyes (Ray Park), and his formidable foe, Storm Shadow (Byung-Hun Lee) and throws in new characters such as Firefly (Ray Stevenson), Cobra Commanders right hand man, and the female ninja Jinx played by the lovely Elodie Yung.
Fan service in this film is in no way lacking. There are many shirtless, buff guys running around, swinging swords, jumping and wielding large guns. Where did their shirts go? Was this even necessary? All in all, even as a fan of good looking gents, I say that I would rather have been distracted by their awesome fighting skills or witty comments than their abs. I will give the writers credit for an awkward attempt at building character interest through important back story, but then their brownie points are taken away due to that same important information being overshadowed by the female getting undressed during the scene. It made it very clear that seeing her in her underwear was just as important as why she became a G.I Joe in the first place, slightly disgraceful if you ask me.
The story continues through what can only be described as effects that make the stunts look flawless to astound the viewer. The 3-D was subtle enough to make the scenes pop, without distracting the audience from the fighting that occurred, always a plus. Death defying ninjas battle along a mountainside held up by nothing more than their zip lines and then the audience is taken back by the return of the Cobra Commander and his henchmen. Let us also not forget that there is still an impostor (Zartan) sitting pretty as the president of the United States thanks to those nanites from the first film. All these seemingly confusing pieces thread together to culminate into a plot that reflects the lack of acting necessary for this film. The G.I. Joes need to stop Cobra Commander and Zartan and save the world, using big guns to do it, and that, is the overall gist of this film. Possibly, the most disappointing thing I can think of is the final scenes where explosions come out of nowhere. In addition, by seeing the movie trailer months in advance, the audience saw a large amount of the action in the ‘awe’ making scenes that should have clearly been left for those who actually chose to see the film.
Interesting and cool new weapons, big stars, amazing fight scenes, and a half pasted together plot; that is what I was given with G.I. Joe:Retaliation in 3D. While I did enjoy the laugh-tastic references (courtesy of Dwayne Johnson) the fun political jabs, and the action provided by some of my favorite action heroes, there just was not enough to make me justify the time and money spent to see this film in the theater, that is why this G.I. Joe movie has only earned 2 stars out of 5.