G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Once again I have to start this review with my fanboy disclaimer: I am not a GI Joe “buff,” and you shouldn’t have to be to see this movie.  I watched the cartoons as a child, but I’m approaching this review as an average moviegoer and not an enthusiast.  At any rate, I enjoyed the first edition and was looking forward to the sequel.  It was entertaining, and it opened up at number 1 at the box office – but it wasn’t quite all it was cracked up to be.

We begin with Duke (Channing Tatum, Side Effects) and Roadblock (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Snitch) as the movie opens with a glimpse into their affable friendship.  Tatum and Johnson have an easy rapport, and it’s always interesting to see these iconic cartoon/comic book characters brought to life.  Lady Jaye is portrayed by Adrianne Palicki (Red Dawn), who you may recognize from Friday Night Lights, while DJ Cotrona of Detroit 187 appears as Flint.  Duke is the clear leader, but his position is threatened when the Joes are ambushed by COBRA while on assignment.  It turns out the President is actually a disguised Zartan, who ultimately wants to free Cobra Commander from his prison and destroy the Joes in the process.  The ambush results in severe casualties, and nuclear warheads are stolen. The President (Zartan) blames the Joes and paints them as traitors, disavowing them.  Disgraced and betrayed, the surviving Joes band together to figure out who’s responsible and recover the warheads.

I’ll be succinct and quite simply tell you what worked and what didn’t.  We’ll start with the positive.  I thought the casting was effective and the lineup made sense.  Additionally, there were quite a few cool scenes and plenty of entertaining action sequences, including a memorable scene involving Snake Eyes (Ray Park, X-Men) and Jinx (Elodie Yung, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) battling ninjas on the side of a snow-capped mountain.  Bruce Willis (Red) makes a cameo as a seasoned Joe who lends a hand, and he’s a sentimental favorite of mine.   I think he’s gonna try to do the action thing until he’s collecting Social Security (if he’s not already), and you know what? He can still pull it off.

Unfortunately, the movie wasn’t without its flaws.  The 3D aspect was negligible, which is becoming all too common nowadays.  Secondly, the writing was not very impressive.  The movie faltered when it drifted away from action.  The dialogue was corny and the plot confusing at times, beginning with the appearance of RZA as a wise old martial arts master who has a history with Storm Shadow (Byung-hun-Lee, I Saw the Devil).  I thought I was watching The Man With the Iron Fists for a second.  I like RZA, but I couldn’t take him seriously. I think if you grew up watching the cartoons, you might want to see this off GP, and I can dig it.  But if you’re totally neutral about it, perhaps you should forego the experience.  It wasn’t bad.  It just wasn’t THAT good.  Grade: B-

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