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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Fishing in the Discount Bin - G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly watching of a movie I own, followed up with blogging about it.  This time, we get the sequel to one of my childhood favourites remade for the big screen, G.I. Joe: Retaliation.  This pops up in my notes at August 3, 2013.

G.I. Joe Retaliation poster

Oh, what a wonderful world we live in, when all the classics from my childhood are now getting big screen treatments to cash in on nostalgia!  We've had a Transformers trilogy, and now G.I. Joe is getting the live action treatment, and the second one, Retaliation is now on DVD!

This second G.I. Joe film had an interesting journey to the big screen.  The first one, The Rise of Cobra, came out in 2009, and was a big enough hit to demand a sequel.  Development began, but it all seemed kind of half-hearted.  And then, enter Star Trek.  Or rather, exit.  Paramount had hoped that a second Star Trek film (that would be Into Darkness) would be their tentpole film for the summer of 2012.  But then, Star Trek director JJ Abrams got caught up on Super 8, which meant Star Trek 2 got pushed back to summer 2013.  Needing a tent pole release for the summer of 2012, Paramount put G.I. Joe 2 on the fast track.  Everything was going fine, but then Hasbro, the owners of G.I. Joe, had another film come out in the summer of 2012, Battleship, based on the classic board game of the same name.  Battleship bombed, and Hasbro got nervous.  Hasbro made the last minute decision to convert G.I. Joe Retaliation to 3D.  Literally one month to go before it's release (it was originally scheduled to come out June 2012, and this decision was made in May 2012), the film got pushed back to Spring 2013 so they could covert it to 3D.  So was it worth the wait?

Following its development online, I was a little disappointed.  The only returning Joes would be Duke and Snake Eyes, and the only returning Cobras Cobra Commander and Storm Shadow.  But there were some good new choices.  Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was on board as Roadblock, a very popular Joe.  Flint and Lady Jaye were in there.  And Jinx!  The female ninja G.I. Joe.  One of my favourites!  So, cautious optimism. 

When last we left our intrepid heroes, the Joes had managed to capture Cobra Commander and put him behind bars.  However, Cobra was able to replace the President of the United States with Zartan, their master of disguise.  With Cobra running the White House, Cobra frames the Joes for trying to steal nuclear weapons from Pakistan, and has the Joes terminated with extreme prejudice.  Now the only surviving Joes, Roadblock, Flint, and Lady Jaye go underground to clear their names and prove that the man in the White House is NOT the President.  Meanwhile, in the sub-plot, Snake Eyes is on a personal mission to bring in Storm Shadow for killing their master.  Snake Eyes brings along new ninja recruit Jinx to help out.  But it's revealed that Storm Shadow was framed and Cobra truly killed their master.  So enemies become allies as they take the fight to Cobra.

Ya know, with the first GI Joe, just like with the first Transformers, my childhood nostalgia for the property was enough to blind me to the flaws.  I was just so giddy to see a real Snake Eyes doing real ninja stuff cutting down real Cobra Vipers that I was in heaven.  But with this second one, the novelty of nostalgia is no longer enough, and what we get is a rather bland movie. 

Lady Jaye. in the original comics and cartoons, was a master of disguise and expert at infiltration.  But here, being a master of disguise means dressing skimpy and using her feminine wiles.  Don't get me wrong, actress Adrianne Palicki looks very good dressing skimpy but, come on.  Lady Jaye should have more to do than stand around looking hot.

And Jinx!  My favorite Joe, and she gets so little.  She has, like, three lines and one cool fight sequence.  That's it.  We do get a line about how Snake Eyes doesn't trust her because she's Storm Shadow's cousin, so couldn't we have at least gotten a glimpse of character arc where she's earning Snake Eyes' trust? 

And Bruce Willis, putting in a cameo as General Joseph Colton, the founder of G.I. Joe.  Willis is in full "I'm just doing this for the money" mode.  He's sleepwalking through the role. 

It's nice to see Cobra Commander looking and acting a little more like his cartoon counterpart.  There's a good old fashioned world domination plot in play.

While the first movie dipped into G.I. Joe's sci-fi and cartoon elements a little more, this one is a little more grounded and realistic, which is nice.  G.I. Joe did that in the original franchise all the time, and it's a nice change of pace.

So, yeah.  I feel very little for this film.  With Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, I at least felt hatred, because Michael Bay took a huge steaming dump all over my childhood nostalgia.  But with G.I. Joe: Retaliation, they don't even bother to take a dump.  It's just...there.  I feel such indifference for this film.

But the ninja zip line fight is pretty cool.

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