Thursday, January 15, 2015

G. I Joe: Reta-late-tion

Hey, I saw G. I. Joe: Retaliation!

I made fun of the first one, but did like it.  That meant seeing this was inevitable.


I realize this review is 658 days late, but I believe there is acceptable justification for my delay.

1) The film was directed by Jon M. Chu, whose only other directing credits were two Step Up movies and a Justin Beiber concert film.

2) The G. I Joe: Real American Hero team has this many members:

Retaliation, for everything important, used a whopping SIX.

3)  The coming attractions were jam packed with ninjas, and looked to be lifted from the 90’s era comic books, when an overabundance of ninjas was one of several elements that made comics in general drink from the crappy well far too often.

I finally saw the film on a redeye intercontinental flight.

I was surprised by what I thought was the quality being well above what I expected, but given my state of mind at the time, waited to receive the Blu Ray as a gift to form a final judgment.

The film destroyed all three of my excuses above in a rather spectacular fashion.

1) Yes, Chu had done some less than manly cinema previously, but he was also a lifelong fan of the Larry Hama penned Marvel Comics G. I. Joe series, the Gold Standard for these characters.  Sadly, he will not be returning for the sequel, moving on to what can only be described as the perfect combination of his previous work in toy selling afternoon cartoons and Teeny Bopper music:

A live action cinematic adaptation of Jem and the Holograms.

Sometimes, the levels of weirdness in reality can be Truly Outrageous.

Hasbro is in talks with Martin (James Bond, Zorro, Green Lantern) Campbell to direct, which would leave the franchise in action packed over the top lunacy type hands.
Or maybe it will be DJ Caruso, announced after I uploaded this, but before it posted, forcing this clunky sentence in here...because Hollywood hates me.

2) A reduced Joe team has shown up for many reasons, and some of them were lame.  The situation this movie sets up, though, is most like one of the few moments where the awesome outshined the stupid in the 80’s G. I. Joe Television Series.

Like the alternate universe two parter “Worlds Without End” (Written by Martin Pasko, aired November 4-5 1985) a small group of Joes are forced to deal with a victorious Cobra.  
While the franchise was somewhat rebooted with this outing, it left Zartan in the White House from the previous attempt.  Instead of a direct military confrontation between two large groups, the focus on the small group against seemingly insurmountable odds kept the drama and excitement levels high for each individual.

It was an excellent choice of individuals as well. 

Not only did Byung-hun Lee and Ray Park return as Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes, but the addition of Jinx (Elodie Yung) and an appearance of the Blind Master (RZA) allowed them to fill in and correct the Arashikage Clan back story that was mutilated in The Rise of Cobra.

In a personal coincidence moment, Adrianne Palicki does an excellent turn as Lady Jaye. The coincidence comes from the fact that, in my twisted view of the universes, Flint and Lady Jaye were to the G. I. Joes what Hawkeye and Mockingbird were to the Avengers.

They’re both a secondary, somewhat reluctant leader and a probably more combat effective woman with a relationship that is far stronger than the constant snarking and verbal jabs make it seem on the surface. 

OK, the Avengers one didn’t last, and frankly, I’m still pissed about that.

Sorry, before I descended into nerd rage the point I was going for is Adrianne Palicki plays both Lady Jaye and Bobbi (Mockingbird) Morse in Agents of SHIELD.  D.J. Controna provided the perfect balance of annoying charm and showboating awesomeness to complete the duo as Flint.

Her and Jinx’s inclusion also meant two women on the minimally sized team, neither of which were cannon fodder or a secretary, making my daughter happy about this arrangement as well.

Dwayne Johnson once again proved the high level of physical and verbal acting required to excel both in the ring and on the mike for the WWE can translate nicely into the action movie world.

Finally, Bruce Willis (channeling more of Joe Hallenbeck than John McClane) as the original General (G. I.) Joe Colton was perfect casting beyond imagination.

3) Ninjas:

I was completely off base with this one, and the reason is coupled to the explanation of Number one.

The ninja stuff wasn’t based on the 1990’s wave of eye searingly bad art comics. It was based on March 1984’s G I Joe Issue 21, “Silent Interlude” one of the most influential, and imitated comics in all of everness.

Like the comic, the ninja scenes were done without dialogue allowing the action to speak for itself, which it did with excessive awesomeness.

Possibly more important than a crazy awesome ninja battle…

Whoah, I’m amazed I typed that. Most films don’t even hint at things more important than crazy awesome ninja battles.

Anyway, the crazy awesome ninja battle is merely the method for setting up the Arashikage Clan corrections.

Once that’s taken care of, the movie gets on with crazy awesome military gearing up and combat scenes, complete with a much more Commandery (if less famousy) Cobra Commander.  He leads a mix of standard military Vipers, and “plainclothes” Secret Service and other Crimson Guardsman stand-ins.

For the Commander’s special assistants:

Ray Stevenson’s randomly accented Firefly is a sadistic, ultra violent, scenery chewing hoot in every scene he’s in.

Arnold Volsloo sorta plays Zartan, but really, we get to see Jonathan Price playing the unhinged villain, something he’s excelled at for many years.
(Come on, Moffat, you’ve referenced “The Curse of Fatal Death” six ways from Sunday, give us an in continuity Price as The Master!)

One last rave before I go watch it again…
Insanely impossible G I Joe and Cobra vehicles…and not CGI ones either.
It’s obvious they built the crazy things.

Yo Joe! 

Y'know, someone should have yelled that…and something else as well.
This is your second warning Paramount; I expect them done well in part three when I see it in the theater.  

Say it with me now everyone:


If you think this was late...wait till next week.

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