Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — Cue my childhood: A mix of early morning animated adventures and 80s/90s action films, followed by their recreation in the dirt battlefields along the backyard fence. One of those religiously enjoyed cartoon excursions I can still sing along with the theme to and for the second flick in a row was given a chance to see how it interpreted those cheesy war cries.
This particular chapter brought a considerable increase in excitement over the first movie, which on its own was still entertainment enough for a one time viewing, but not “the villain we all recognize now actually has the metal mask he’s most famous for” exciting. Putting aside the fact that the studios pulled the flick only weeks before it was first supposed to premier, I was more than ready to sink my teeth into this revamp. After the credits It seems that “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” delivered on some promised improvements like a closer to home based theme, but still is kind of missing that one thing that really gives the franchise a complete zing.
If you haven’t had the major early plot point by the likes of Wikipedia or a bunghole critic who can’t keep his/her mouth shut about one of the major characters spoiled yet, be ready for a major upheaval to the structure of this American team. Admittedly it’s hard not to spoil in order to give the clearest idea of the overall story (Likely because the studio makes it rather obvious in the trailers), but take it from someone who found out before release, knowing ahead of time deflates any attempt the film makes to sooth the pain of what will be lost.
In any case, after it is established that Cobra Commander takes over the government through his lackey Zartan (Arnold Vosloo) imitating the US President (Jonathan Pryce), Joe tough guy Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson) gets most of the screen time once things really get going. Though he has the help of those like the deadly beautiful Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki) and the original “Joe” General Joseph Colton (Bruce Willis) the uphill battle ahead was a pretty fun ride. However, I’d have to say my favorite scenes were those involving the expanded background/story of Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and Stormshadow (Byung-hun Lee), which provided some of the best ninja scenes I’ve seen in recent years.
In the end, the one thing that seemed to make it average was a rather ho-hum performance by Cobra Commander and the way the story kind of treated what was supposed to inspire Roadblock to save the day. When you’re 10 years old and vegetating in front of the television you don’t need much substance other than an exploding city here and there or bad guys brushed aside like blades of grass for giggles, but death of one’s comrades needs a bit more sympathy when it’s supposed to be a blockbuster theater release.
I attribute much of this to trying to constantly wow the audience with special effects with no time to reflect and hope a third chapter (if made), moves a bit slower and gives time to let the story flow with a little less ADHD. Other than that, it was fine for an afternoon distraction, but gives little reason for multiple repeat viewings. Thus, the final Verdict for “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” is two and a half out of five Dukes.
Movie viewing experience courtesy of the Royal Twin Theater of Pauls Valley.