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Review: G.I. Joe: Retaliation

G.I. Joe: Retaliation
Mar. 26, 2013by:
6 10

PLOT: With COBRA agent Zartan now posing as the US president (Jonathan Pryce), the G.I Joe's are ambushed and mostly wiped out. The survivors of the attack, Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Flint (D.J Cotrona) and Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki) are joined by the rogue Snake Eyes (Ray Park), his apprentice Jinx (Elodie Yung) and a retired Joe (Bruce Willis) in a quest to avenge their fallen comrades.

REVIEW: After being delayed ten full months to allow for a 3D conversion, Jon M. Chu's G.I JOE: RETALIATION is finally hitting theaters. Considering RISE OF THE COBRA's disastrous reception from hardcore G.I JOE fans, many thought a sequel would never get made. Sure enough, most of the team from the first film is gone, although Chu's movie is not a reboot, but is in fact a direct sequel. This allows them to carry-over the few things from the first movie that did kinda work, specifically the cliffhanger ending involving Zartan as the president, Ray Park as the silent, faceless Snake Eyes, Byung-hun Lee as his sworn enemy Storm Shadow, and to a lesser extent, Channing Tatum as Duke. Cobra Commander is also back, but he hardly seems like the same character that was portrayed in the first film (Joseph Gordon-Levitt sits this one out).

But, while the essentials are the same, RETALIATION benefits from director Chu's significantly different approach to the material. With the first film was campy, RETALIATION tries to be more of a proper action film, eschewing the huge cartoonish battles scenes from RISE OF THE COBRA, in favor of more shootouts, chases, and fisticuffs courtesy of new leading man Dwayne Johnson.

In many ways, G.I JOE seems to be an ideal franchise for Johnson, who's larger-than-life, exactly the kind of hero this franchise needs. With his tree-trunk arms, and square-jawed heroics, he's really a throw-back to eighties action heroes like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, and while this is still a team film as opposed to an all-out star vehicle, his energy revitalizes the franchise, just like it did with FAST FIVE. Channing Tatum, who was stiff in the first film, also benefits from Johnson's presence, as the two-of-them have a nice, easygoing buddy-buddy give and take that I enjoyed, although to be sure this is not Tatum's movie (at all).

It's a good thing Johnson's on-board, as the rest of the Joe's don't make a huge impression. Heroine Adrianne Palicki is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous, but she's not given a heck of a lot to do other than dress up in skimpy outfits (I shouldn't complain) to distract the villains, or occasionally complain about how her father never loved her because she was a girl (awww). D.J Cotrona fares even worse, with his Flint being a non-entity throughout, existing only to occasionally shoot someone or make a wisecrack. As for Bruce Willis, this is more-or-less a glorified cameo, and I doubt he has more than fifteen minutes of screen-time throughout.

Luckily, Snake-Eyes and Storm-Shadow are around to liven things up with some nifty ninja action, with the mountain-side sword-fight, which is the one part of the movie that seems to have really benefited from the 3D conversion, being the film's standout set-piece. Sure, their plot, involving the RZA's Blind Master and the deceased Hard Master is goofy as heck, but the ninja action appeals to the eighties kid in me, who still remembers watching Sho Kosugi movies at birthday parties.

The villains are pretty weak this time out as well, with Cobra Commander only getting a few minutes here and there to make his presence felt. Ray Stevenson as Firefly, and Byung-hun Lee are more or less the faces of COBRA throughout, even if both feel like henchmen. However, Jonathan Pryce seems to be having a ball chewing the scenery as Zartan, although again, he feel more like a minion than a mastermind. If the heroes are larger than life, the villains should be too.

If you want to get any enjoyment at all out of G.I JOE: RETALIATION, it's important to check your brain at the door, as the dialogue is occasionally so goofy that at times it felt like the screenwriters were intentionally trying to camp this up, which is contrary to director Chu's more earnest approach. We all worried whether the director of STEP-UP 2: THE STREETS would be able to manage a tent-pole action movie, but it turns out he's more than up to the task- at least as far as the action set-pieces go. Then again, why else go see a G.I JOE movie?

To be sure, G.I JOE: RETALIATION is never anything less than ludicrous, but it's fun enough just as long as you check your brain at the door. This is the kind of movie where entire countries can be destroyed at the click of a button, with millions of lives lost, and nobody really seems to care as long as the good old' U.S.A is a-OK. So yeah- it's probably best not to think too much about RETALIATION after watching it. Still, it's a heck of a lot better than the first movie, and a mostly solid 110 minutes of fun.

Source: JoBlo.com

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2:44AM on 03/31/2013
Better than the first but miles away from a great movie. Snake Eyes still rules.
Better than the first but miles away from a great movie. Snake Eyes still rules.
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5:48PM on 03/27/2013
It's GI Joe, what more are you expecting? It's mind boggling how much people bitch & moan & realize movies can be fun & over the top also, if you want artsy fartsy stuff, wait till after the summer. These are the kinda of movies you want to turn you brain off for 2 hrs for an escape from reality.
It's GI Joe, what more are you expecting? It's mind boggling how much people bitch & moan & realize movies can be fun & over the top also, if you want artsy fartsy stuff, wait till after the summer. These are the kinda of movies you want to turn you brain off for 2 hrs for an escape from reality.
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12:14PM on 03/26/2013
The problem with Bumbray's reviews is that he is expecting that every action movie has to be some sort of masterpiece, and that's an unfair criteria to review these kind of movies. Remembers me a little bit about how harsh is Roger Ebert with this kind of genre. You know what you're buying when you watch a movie like this, so I don't get the low score if it's solid entertainment.
If this flick is a lot better than the first movie, then is worth watching. End of story.
The problem with Bumbray's reviews is that he is expecting that every action movie has to be some sort of masterpiece, and that's an unfair criteria to review these kind of movies. Remembers me a little bit about how harsh is Roger Ebert with this kind of genre. You know what you're buying when you watch a movie like this, so I don't get the low score if it's solid entertainment.
If this flick is a lot better than the first movie, then is worth watching. End of story.
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5:50PM on 03/27/2013
Totally agree with this post.
Totally agree with this post.
10:36AM on 03/26/2013
Just came back from a screening and I enjoyed it. The 3D conversion was actually decent (though I did experience some eyestrain) and while it's silly, it's a whole lot less silly than the first movie and probably even more fun.
Just came back from a screening and I enjoyed it. The 3D conversion was actually decent (though I did experience some eyestrain) and while it's silly, it's a whole lot less silly than the first movie and probably even more fun.
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+15
9:41AM on 03/26/2013

6/10 seems a little harsh...

especially considering
1. you say "Still, it's a heck of a lot better than the first movie" and
2. JoBlo Movie Site gave the original a 7/10 (although it wasn't you who reviewed it).
I did enjoy the first GI Joe so will go see this one too.
especially considering
1. you say "Still, it's a heck of a lot better than the first movie" and
2. JoBlo Movie Site gave the original a 7/10 (although it wasn't you who reviewed it).
I did enjoy the first GI Joe so will go see this one too.
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7:34AM on 03/26/2013
So if it's mostly solid, why only six? Because it's mindless I think you automatically knock off points. Because it's mindless doesn't mean it can't be good. I'm gonna check this out soon, but poor villains (who have the ability to apparently to blow up the world at the push of a button, which makes them the exact opposite of weak) doesn't seem a just reason to give it a D- on paper. Maybe if Cobra commander stared aimlessly pondering his life decisions to some crappy acoustic music, with some
So if it's mostly solid, why only six? Because it's mindless I think you automatically knock off points. Because it's mindless doesn't mean it can't be good. I'm gonna check this out soon, but poor villains (who have the ability to apparently to blow up the world at the push of a button, which makes them the exact opposite of weak) doesn't seem a just reason to give it a D- on paper. Maybe if Cobra commander stared aimlessly pondering his life decisions to some crappy acoustic music, with some screeching woman trying sing it would be better. Ya lets get Wes Anderson to make the next one.
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7:19AM on 03/26/2013
Props to the Sho Kosugi reference. Revenge of the Ninja and Rage of Honor are some of my favorite schlocky movies.
Props to the Sho Kosugi reference. Revenge of the Ninja and Rage of Honor are some of my favorite schlocky movies.
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7:15AM on 03/26/2013
It's G.I. Joe movie. I don't care about the score. I just want to have mindless fun at the movies!
It's G.I. Joe movie. I don't care about the score. I just want to have mindless fun at the movies!
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4:41AM on 03/26/2013
Film looks like a good time. Glad to see the positive review.
Film looks like a good time. Glad to see the positive review.
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4:33AM on 03/26/2013
"The villains are pretty weak this time out as well, with Cobra Commander only getting a few minutes here and there to make his presence felt."

So this is part 2 of a trilogy then I guess.
"The villains are pretty weak this time out as well, with Cobra Commander only getting a few minutes here and there to make his presence felt."

So this is part 2 of a trilogy then I guess.
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+18
2:56AM on 03/26/2013
Nice review. Between this and Jimmy's take, this seems like a film worth checking out. I've been missing action films, and with this and Olympus, I am happy to see some decent action films coming out.
Nice review. Between this and Jimmy's take, this seems like a film worth checking out. I've been missing action films, and with this and Olympus, I am happy to see some decent action films coming out.
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