Monday, April 8, 2013

GI Joe:Retaliation Review

GI Joe:Retaliation Review
Director: Jon M. Chu

Cast Headliners: Channing Tatum, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Byung-Hun Lee

Original Release Date: March 29, 2013
GI: Joe: Retaliation is the sequel to the first live action Joe film, 2007’s The Rise of Cobra. That film introduced us to a wide variety of colorful characters on both sides of good and evil, and this time most but not all return. The fact that Marlon Wayan’s goofy Ripcord is gone points to the film having a different tone. It is definitely a lot more grim and well… im not going to say realistic since there’s ninja fights jumping between mountains and exploding robo-bugs, but this movie has a sort of maturity that the first didn’t have.  It has a very unique and interesting vibe to it compared to most franchise action films.
Without spoiling a major twist that must be scene, that maturity is in the film’s premise. The opening of the film has a couple of cool minor missions, but after a certain disastrous accident the main crew of Roadblock (Johnson), Lady Jaye, and Flint find themselves on the run. America is not what it used to be, and their quest is an intense one of stealth and sabotage.  Across the world, a different kind of stealth is being used by the awesome ninja Storm-Eyes returning from number 1 and his new friends Jinx and Blind Master to track down his old nemesis Storm Shadow (Lee). The two plotlines don’t intersect till later, and his ninja-centric plot feels almost like another movie. I think these scenes were the best of the movie, with the ninja fight at the ninja monastery being the highlight of the action scenes in the film. I haven’t seen spectacle like that in a while.  Eventually the two teams unite, which leads to a fantastic finale at the scenic Ft.Sumter.
I want to make note of the new characters. Roadblock is both a badass and hilarious, and one of my favorite Rock roles in a while. The Rock is doing what he does best, at his best here. There are some very funny scenes between him and Duke (Channing Tatum, who actually isn’t really the main focus of this film which can be debated whether that’s a good or bad thing), and also when he’s a leader. The America based team eventually enlists GI Joe Coulton himself, played by Bruce Willis who is pretty much being John McClane and being hilarious wisecrackin as always.   On the villain spectrum, Cobra Commander has lost Joseph Gordin Levitt as the actor but new actor Robert Baker retains some of his charisma and seems right out of the Saturday morning cartoon. Ray Stevenson’s Firefly and Byung-Hun Lee’s Storm Shadow are both great minion stereotypes, and the star of the villain side is acclaimed actor Jonathan Pryce playing Zartan is who disguised as the President. Some of the greatest humor comes from Pryce actually.
The film has great fights, quality, special effects, and some good laughs. It’s held back perhaps by little exposition showing the rest of the massive GI Joe organization. Are we really supposed to believe that Dennis Quaid’s General Hawk character from number one would let this all happen without intervening? The script may not be Oscar quality either, and some of the performances such as the character Flint and even Tatum’s Duke being a bit subpar. But, this is a fun colorful action movie worth seeing. It had a heart and a craft one is not used to in blockbusters.  Overall, it makes you want to should “Gooo Joe!”,   8 out of 10

Kevin’s Note: (I would also like to dedicate this review and post to Roger Ebert, who passed away a few days ago. He was a great film critic, and inspiration for this blog. Thank you Ebert for your reviews, and we’ll always remember you) 

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