Monday, April 08, 2013

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Year: 2013
Director: Jon M. Chu
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Bruce Willis, Ray Park, Lee Byung-Hun, Adrianne Palicki, D.J. Cotrona, Channing Tatum, Ray Stevenson, Jonathan Pryce, Elodie Yung

Plot: The President, under the impersonation of Zartan, orders the G.I Joes terminated and puts Cobra in their place. With only a handful of their number left, the Joes have to regroup and stop Cobra from destroying the world.

Review: A lot of people hated the first G.I. Joe film. With Stephen Sommers at the helm, it's to be expected, after all he is pretty good at hamming things up. The thing is, I thought it was pretty fun to watch. Yes, it was over the top and the dialogue was cheesy to a fault. But it was fun and well shot.

Before going in to watch Retaliation, I've heard plenty of comments saying it's better this time around. So I had my hopes up. But darn it, it's not as good as I wanted it to be. Granted, it had potential. But it may have shot itself in the foot when the release was delayed from June last year, pending 3D conversion and rumoured reshoots. I think the final editing process suffered because of this and the whole film felt quite disjointed.

Director Jon M. Chu put in some cool action sequences here, which is the film's main strength. However he messes it up by filming them up close (like most weak action directors do), and a lot of his shots were shaky. The one scene that stood out was Snake Eyes and Jinx fighting a group of ninjas on the side of a mountain. For me, this was the only scene that looked awesome. There was a cool close quarters gunfight between Dwayne Johnson and Ray Stevenson at the film's climax, but the weak camerawork spoiled it.

But that's not all. Compared to the first film, the characterisation here was bad. The so called budding friendship between Johnson's Roadblock and Channing Tatum's Duke was funny but didn't feel real. Then they tried to explain Storm Shadow's past actions, which involves a couple of scenes with a blind master played by RZA (I almost burst out laughing seeing him), and though it follows the comic book (from what I've heard), it just didn't seem plausible to me. And speaking of plausibility, the Joes from the first film were supposed to be an elite international team, but here they look like a regular bunch of marines, who get wiped out by a single airstrike. Makes no sense.

So what's good about it then? Well, Dwayne Johnson is always cool. He's built to be an action hero, and especially as a Joe, so he did pretty good with the material given to him. Bruce Willis has some good lines and makes his screen presence felt, but doesn't get much to do overall. Lee Byung-Hun and Jonathan Pryce do well in their roles as Storm Shadow and the President respectively, as does Ray Stevenson as Firefly. The rest of the cast are either cliched or forgettable.

I wanted to like this film really bad. It's not god awful or anything, but after making us wait for nine months, I expected better. I know they'll make another one, and they better step up. (2.5/5)

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