G. I. Joe Retaliation Review

Posted: April 1, 2013 in Movies
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G. I. Joe Retaliation has been described as a sequel/reboot. It is tied to its predecessor Rise of Cobra, but also introduces a few new Joes and a new Cobra member or two. However this makes perfect sense in a franchise with large numbers of characters and no one specific star. (The upcoming Transformers sequel is reportedly taking the same route.)

Picking up from the last movie, Cobra member and master of disguise Zartan poses as the U.S. President, accuses the Joes of a crime and has a bunch of them killed in the beginning of the movie. Unbeknownst to Cobra, Roadblock (played by WWE star the Rock), Flint, and Lady Jay have survived. Later they join up with Snake eyes and Jinx, and ultimately the original G. I. Joe, General Joe Colton, played by Bruce Willis. Together they fight returning Cobra members Storm Shadow, and Cobra Commander. Cobra member Firefly is introduced, played by Ray Stevenson. (While he fought Roadblock I imagined the Rock fighting the Punisher)

This is the type of movie that is dumb but dumb in the right way. People may complain that it’s stupid, but when you look at the source material you could argue that it’s just as stupid as the cartoon. You could even say it’s less so. The movie didn’t have scenes of people jumping out of airplanes and tanks just before they exploded, and there weren’t blatant on screen shots of two people directly shooting at each other with no consequence. Members of both Joe and Cobra have definitive on screen deaths.

G. I. Joe retaliation does not go without complaint however. While many Joes died in the beginning, most of them were faceless. Only one specific character from the last movie was killed, which attempted to provide some emotional weight for the Roadblock and others. Since they were killing Joe’s off anyway they should have been specific characters from the last movie like Scarlett, Ripcord, etc. to add to the tragedy.

Other faceless characters that definitely should not have been faceless were people that Joe/Bruce Willis recruited. He brings his own team in to help with the final battle but they are mostly inconsequential and a missed opportunity to bring a few more actual characters in. (Though in the universe inside my own mind I imagine them being the Expendables; Stallone, Arnold, Coutre, Lundgren, Li, Stathem, etc Which reminds me Ray Stevenson needs to be in an Expendables movie.)

Speaking of Willis’ character it’s not really explained too much that he was the first G. I. Joe. (Before the 1980s G. I. Joe/Real American Hero cartoon G. I. Joe was one specific person)

Still it gets the job done of entertaining us. The 4D effects, seats moving, water mist, air blasts as shots are fired helped. There are cheesecake shots for both men and women to enjoy. Lady Jae dons a stunning red dress during a party scene, and the ladies get to look at the Rock and Storm Shadow. One laugh out loud moment had Storm Shadow rip his shirt off in the middle of combat for no reason.

If you wanted to you could read political overtones in the movie. Democratic strategist James Carville appears as himself speaking alongside the President who of course is secretly Zartan. Lady Jay in the aforementioned party scene poses as a Fox news reporter. So if you wanted to you could interpret this as the Democrats are terrorists and Fox news is fighting for freedom wherever there’s trouble. Also Cobra’s plan is pretty much unilateral nuclear disbarment. Personally I’m not going to read too much politics into a movie based on a line of action figures, but there it is.

However, speaking of politics one thing that irked me about the first movie which made me refuse to see it in theaters was that G. I. Joe was not an American military unit. Instead it was out of the U.N. and was an acronym meaning Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity. Not only that but if I remember right one of the actors was openly saying he was hesitant to do the movie at first because he didn’t want to do something pro-military and the first Joe movie was actually being described as being like X-men. None of this made any sense to me. G. I. Joe Retaliation makes no mention of this U. N. business (or of it taking place in the future). As far as we know from this movie, G. I. Joe is once again America’s daring highly trained special mission force.

In closing G. I. Joe is a fairly faithful adaption of its source material. It captures both the coolness and goofiness of the original toyline/80s cartoon. If I were to grade it I’d give it a C+

Yo Joe.

  1. Darren Mullins says:

    I just watched Rise of Cobra last night and must say that the live action G.I. Joe films (at least Rise Of Cobra) could be a moe faithful adaptation then the live action Transformers films.

    • jemurr says:

      Oh absolutely. They’re not great films but they get the general idea. The new one is less sci-fi-ish and more basic military action. Paramount has already announced they will make a third movie.

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