Saturday, April 6, 2013

G.I. Joe: Retaliation


  I hear people bitching about continuity errors in Retaliation, how sad it is that Duke dies in the first ten minutes. That's already widely known, so if you wanna whine about spoilers... there's the back button. Right there. They also whine about how most of the supporting cast from Rise of Cobra doesn't return, and how they're not mentioned. Yet most of these things, are things fans listed to change in a sequel. Screw everyone who's bitching about these things. Seriously. There's a overwhelming wave of new-found tolerance for Rise of Cobra, and it's nasty. Especially when this movie is vastly superior.

  The plot is pretty thin and it stretches itself thin as much as possible to cover alot of ground. So don't expect anything good, or intricate. Not in the slightest. Basically, if you don't mind your villains growing in a Darth Vaderish voice about world domination- you won't have an issue with this movie. Thankfully though, it's not actually stupid, and it doesn't outright insult your intelligence. Which is a big improvement over the 90 minute glorified toy commercial that is it's predecessor.

  In short, G.I.Joe: Retaliation does precisely what it means to. It delivers scene after scene of explosive over the top action sequences, witty humor, and neat-o gadgets. It's about as deep as a Saturday morning cartoon, but considering how good some of those can actually be- it's a strong compliment. However, at heart it's still just a silly cartoon. Good guys win, bad puns are made, the villains get theirs and/or escape to fight again in a sequel. What more could you want?

  The use of CGI in just about EVERY action scene is greatly reduced from the last outing. In fact, only a few instances is there lots of CGI onscreen here. What CGI is on display is very very well done. Kudos. However, the real star of the show is the action, and it is largely enjoyable (aside from some occasional shaky cam) and there's lots of cool little bits to take in. Lots of cool looking camera angles, and very decent choreography, as well as wonderful chemistry between cast members, and some very decent humor go a long way towards saving this from being a middle of the road actioner.

  The Rock is definitely a highlight as he lends his trademark physicality to the movie, being an ideal action figure for this rock em' sock em' outing. As well as blowing things up with machine guns so large nobody has ever held by hand before on film, he also dispenses verbal exposition as needed to check in with the ongoing plot and make sure the audience is up to par. It's as cut and dry as "This is what's happening now, and this is what we need to do." However, with his charisma, gravitas and intensity, The Rock has cemented his career on making dialog like that sound important and at the very least fun to listen to.

  The movie does make attempts at some welcome character development, and it fits. It doesn't hold up the pace like some people complain it does. The actors do a competent enough job to sell it pretty well too. However nobody will be thinking about these characters much beyond their function in a gun fight.  It's not too much of a complaint though seeing how fun it is to watch these characters interact with each other. The banter alone sometimes is gold, and other times it's just their attitude and a bit of brevity.

  Which brings me to something else this movie does really well. Chemistry. The movie has a self aware attitude about itself, which prevents it from being so silly it's pretentious. Instead of weighing us down, telling us how these characters are good friends or something like that, it simply treats us to seeing it. There's a real camaraderie here, even if it is between glorified action figures.

  I could go on about the flaws of the movies, including the odd (but thankfully brief) placement of Wu Tang member RZA; I could comment on how the total destruction of London looked, and how the bad guys make such a classic cartoonish mistake towards the end that I nearly facepalmed... but it's the kind of movie where ninjas use guns, The Rock quotes Jay-Z, and bad guys make speeches about world domination. Why would I stop to nit-pick? Either you're sold on it by now, or not.

Much ass is kicked, Snake Eyes is a cool looking badass, The Rock blows things up, and the token female. gets her moment in a tightly fitted red dress. At least the G.I.Joes aren't above exploiting their fellow female Joe's (Jane's?) sex appeal...

YO JOE!(?)

With implausibility abound, one either checks in for an hour and a half of ninjas, explosions, and shootouts, or he sits around being miserable the whole time. This is what you paid to see. Deal with it. This is what The Rise of Cobra should've been. Pound for pound. Some things are unfortunately summarily excised in the effort to distance itself from it's predecessor, but this is hardly a gripe considering how much better it is.

 It also seems to me, in closing, that this movie was made in the wrong era. Scaled back just a smidge and it'd make a kick ass double feature with say... First Blood Pt.II.

Did I mention Snake Eyes is a badass?