Just saw G.I. Joe Retaliation. It wasn’t a bad movie, it was a hell of a lot better than Rise of Cobra, but then, that doesn’t mean it was a good movie. Here’s the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly about it (some spoilers ahead)
Dwayne Johnson, Adrianne Palicki, Ray Stevenson, and Bruce Willis were excellent additions to the cast, while Ray Park, Byung-hun Lee, and Channing Tatum returned as well, though you don’t see much of Channing. As far as acting goes, I can’t complain about too much about it. I think they all did a good job.
The first movie had a van and those stupid robot suits, this one brings back the vehicles we loved from the original series. They may have left out the goofier vehicles from the 80s but they stuck with the ones that translated into real life rather nicely. You see Hiss Tanks, an A.W.E. Striker, Fang, and Ripsaw Tank, and all looking like they could have been pulled from Iraq war footage.
The story picks up right after the previous one. We still have President Zartan, and the bad guys are all locked up except for Storm Shadow, who somehow escaped being stabbed and plunging into the water. The Joes are framed for stealing nukes by Zartan when they were actually recovering them from Pakistan after their government crumbles. The Joes then work to clear their name, rescue the real president, and stop Cobra from destroying the world. They also don’t get as ridiculous as they did in the first one. There were no love triangles, no surprise siblings, and they don’t use nanites for everything imaginable. The only oddball science that they use is the creation of a tungsten kinetic impactor weapon (think missile sized bullet) that’s fired from a satellite. It’s actually something that our own military was looking into, and it didn’t require going to the Large Hadron Collier to “weaponize” anything. Cobra doesn’t hold back with this weapon either, they make a threat, and they follow through with it.
As you may have heard, the ninja fight on the side of the mountain is spectacular. Seriously, it’s amazing. There are ninjas flying everywhere, swinging on ropes, falling off cliffs, and flying around on zip lines. They could have just made an entire movie about this fight scene alone.
There’s a lot humor in the movie. From Roadblock quoting Jay-Z before a battle, to President Zartan mocking the North Korean leader every chance he can. The movie is hilarious when it needs to be, but serious everywhere else.
What happened to the original characters? I know that many of the actors wouldn’t return, but there isn’t really much said as to what happened to them. After G.I. Joe is framed, President Zartan just says that they attacked the Joes and wiped them out with extreme prejudice. That’s it, there’s not more mention of General Hawk, Scarlet, Ripcord, or any other of the Joes. There’s also no explanation as to why Storm Shadow is still alive. He supposedly dies at the end of the first movie, only for us to find that G.I. Joe is still chasing after him. In a way, I’m OK with this. The first movie was terrible, so just sweeping it under the rug and starting over may have been the best thing they could have done.
Even without the original cast, I could have gone for some more Joes or Cobra agents. Cobra really only has Firefly and Cobra Commander since Zartan spends the whole movie as the president. Sure they had a ton of faceless red ninjas, but what about Tomax and Xamot? Where were the Dreadnoks? Why did they have to kill off Destro at the very beginning? So what if it’s a new actor, he also has a new metal face and metallic voice, you can replace him just like you did Cobra Commander, he’s pretty much a new character now anyways. Why go to all the trouble of giving him a metal face just to off him before you even get to see his face in this movie?
The post production 3D conversion wasn’t good. I think it would have been better if I had just saw it in 2D, or maybe if I had waited to see it at Loewe’s Theater with their Imax screens. The movie looked like multiple layers of 2D film instead of actual 3D. While most of the time, it wasn’t that bad, anytime the action picked up, it was really noticeable and tended to pull me out of the action.
They blow up London. I’m actually OK with this, but what get’s me, is how they do it. A kinetic impactor would not deal that much damage. It would destroy the building it hit, probably do a lot of damage to the surrounding buildings, but it wouldn’t destroy the entire city. They make better bunker busters than they do WMDs.
The worst sin, comes at the end, when the Joes are receiving medals. Roadblock is presented with a pistol, which he then picks up by putting his finger on the trigger, following which, he points it over the heads of the attending audience and fires off a round.
First, why was the gun loaded, with one in the chamber, and the safety off? Second, I would think that Roadblock would have much better trigger control and not place his finger on the trigger. I would also assume that he would know better than to just fire a bullet over the head of a crowd of people, no matter how much of a powerful gesture he thinks it would make. Within seconds of that shot being fired, not only should the Secret Service have shot him, but someone on the other side of the Arlington Cemetery probably just dropped over dead thanks to a bullet out of nowhere.
Where could they go next?
First, while it looked like Destro is dead, you never actually see him get killed. In fact, when he supposedly died in the explosion, he was behind a blast door, in a liquid filled tube. He could very well have survived. Now, getting out is another matter, but it’s still possible. Likewise, while Zartan may have developed a bad case of sword through the heart, he showed us earlier how the nanites in his body can heal him, so he could come back as well. Likewise, Doctor Mindbender supposedly survived the first movie, and could possibly come back for a third movie.
Hell, the whole plot of the next movie could be Mindbender and Destro engineering Serpentor as a way to kick Cobra Commander out of the number one spot of Cobra and regain leadership.
Plus, with all G.I. Joe pretty much DOA, we could see a lot of new members being recruited and giving us some of the ones we’ve missed so far. Since Duke’s dead, it’d be a great time to bring in Falcon as a recruit. And if you remember the original animated movie, then you know that Falcon was trained by none other than Sgt. Slaughter. Sure the dude is ancient now, but I’m sure they could get him into shape to make at least a cameo as a drill sergeant.
And speaking of the original movie, they could always bring in the Cobra La guys.