Saturday, May 11, 2013

G.I. Joe: Retaliation review; exactly what I expected (that's not a bad thing)

G.I. Joes were of course made famous by those little action figures, comic books and animated series.  Then in 2009, they were brought to the big screen... in a big way.  The movie made a boat load of money, elevated Channing Tatum's star power to another level, and created a franchise.  A sequel was announced and Tatum's role, as well as the original cast, was diminished.  It was announced Dwayne Johnson would take over as the lead in the newly titled, G.I. Joe: Retaliation.  Set to be released last year, the studio made a shocking announcement.  The movie would be delayed 9 months for reshoots and post-production 3D conversion.  Now the movie has been out for quite some time, but I just got around to watching it, so let's go Joe!

What I liked about the film:
The Action
I'm a very realistic movie fan.  I don't walk into Summer action films expecting Oscar darlings (unless of course Christopher Nolan is involved).  So I knew walking into 'Retaliation' that it was going to be pure eye candy and nothing more.  And I was right.  The action was much more grounded, with the occasional absurdities.  Nicely choreographed hand to hand combat was solid.  Then there were the impressive hillside battle between ninjas that got me excited to see the film, since the trailer was released.  The scene is absurd, but so entertaining, I didn't care.  Director Jon Chu really elevated the action from the previous film.

The Actors
Dwayne Johnson was seriously born to be an action star.  He is so believable as the leader of this mini-army, I'd probably line up in formation if he ever yelled at me.  He does a solid job with the VERY little character development in the film.  D.J. Cotrona, Elodie Yung and Adrianne Palicki and nice additions to the main cast of characters.  Familiar favorites return as well.  Jonathan Pryce returns as the President of the United States.  He actually plays dual roles, and I was impresed.  Byung-hun LeeRay Stevenson, Ray Park and Arnold Vosloo all return to reprise their roles.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt's role has been recast for Luke Bracey.  I thought it was a nice mix of actors all working cohesively.  For the most part.

The Pace/Cinemotography/Music
Not that these categories should be clumped together, but they all come down to one man... Jon Chu.  His directing really did it for me.  The pacing of the film is terrific.  Nice and swift, easy to follow.  The cinematography was nicely done, by Stephen Windon.  It was a nice looking film that kept me wanting more.  And finally, Henry Jackman put together a hell of a score.  It was big, bold, exciting, sympathetic and more.  I really enjoyed it.  

What I didn't like about the film:
The Writing/Story
This is a tough one to describe.  Only because one has to wonder what the movie would have been like without the delay and reshoots.  I read over and over that reshoots were to include more of Channing Tatum's character.  And after seeing the film, I know exactly where the reshots took place.  It's that obvious.  A scene depicted in the trailer, was that of all the G.I. Joes being terminated.  I am willing to bet money that, that was originally the opening of the film.  They added a few additional scenes between Tatum and Dwayne Johnson to dive deeper into their relationship.  Ultimately, it did nothing for me.

The movie felt a bit choppy, unorganized and didn't feel cohesive.  While the pace was nice and quick, the story stumbled.  It tried to be too much and ended up hurting the film.  For the entire second act, we're trying to follow two smaller groups of Joes, on different sides of the planet.  And my final eye roll came at the hands of one character who makes a complete 180 degree turn from one side of the fight to the other.  Whatever.  Again, it's a Summer action film!

Bruce Willis
I'm still trying to figure out why Bruce Willis was in this movie.  You all know by now that I don't spoil anything in my reviews, and I'm not going to start now.  But after leaving the theater, I came up with a consclusion.  The writers (Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick) just needed a way to explain where the name G.I. Joes came from, so they created Willis' character.  Again, I'm not spoiling anything that wasn't in the trailer; but watch the movie and tell me he serves a purpose.

The Verdict:
Summer Fun For Everyone!
I enjoyed the first film, a lot.  So I went to see this film.  I probably could have waited until it was released on Blu-Ray.  But that being said, I wanted to see Dwayne Johnson, guns blazing on the big screen.  So I forked over some money and was thoroughly entertained for 90 minutes or so.  With plans for a third enstallment to the franchise, I'm sure I'll be blogging about that film after I watch it as well.  So go see it, don't expect much depth and you'll be entertained.

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