Tag Archives: GI Joe

Movie Review: GI Joe: Retaliation (2013)

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I have pretty much erased 2009’s GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra from my memory. I vaguely recall Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Channing Tatum and Sienna Miller, a couple of ninjas and some crazy hi-tech machinery, but that’s about it.

The sequel, GI Joe: Retaliation, is probably better than its predecessor, but chances are I also won’t remember much of it in a couple of years. It’s a typical popcorn movie with lots of fight scenes and explosions and corny jokes, but for the most part I found it fun while it lasted. 

It makes no difference if you haven’t seen the first film. The GI Joes are some special American soldiers who do the heavy lifting for the US government. Channing Tatum is back as Duke, and this time he has brought along his buddy The Rock, who plays his second in command. Just about everyone else is gone, except for the white and black ninjas (Lee Byung-hun and Ray Park — better known as Darth Maul) and Jonathan Pryce, who plays the US president. Joseph Gordon-Levitt had better things to do but his character, Cobra Commander, returned behind a convenient mask.

The big new addition to the franchise is Bruce Willis, who appears to be going through a Nicholas Cage phase (ie, “I’ll do whatever you pay me to do”). John McClane is just everywhere these days. Here he plays Joe, apparently the original GI, which makes perfect sense given that Demi Moore once played GI Jane.

The story is not important. All you need to know is that the bad guys (Cobra) want to retaliate, and then the GI Joes want to retaliate against the retaliation. There is a big surprise for those who don’t already know it near the beginning, but apart from that the rest of the film sails on predictably.

The highlight of the ensemble cast is Lee Byung-hun, who gets to show off his impressive physique and sword skills as the white ninja. The scenes between him and Ray Park, especially with all the ninjas flying around on the mountains, are clearly the highlight of the film. To be honest I found the other action sequences involving loads and loads of massive guns and tanks to be rather “meh.” I guess I need to be a gun nut (or American, or both) to appreciate it.

The rest of the cast is adequate, save for some sub-par acting by Channing Tatum (even for him). Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has been taking too much steroids lately and he looks like he could explode with one more injection. I don’t get the obsession, but other people clearly do and he is cashing in on it. Adrianne Palicki (Red Dawn) provides the eye candy and girl power as the token female GI, and her male counterpart is DJ Cotrona (no idea where he came from).

What impressed me most about the movie was its nonchalant attitude towards violence and global nuclear destruction. There’s a lot of over-the-top carnage, dialogue and silliness but director Jon M Chu takes it in stride and delivers it in a tongue-in-cheek style. I wouldn’t have expected anything less from the man who directed Justin Bieber: Never Say Never. There is one scene involving the world’s nuclear powers that is just a complete farce, but because Chu just wings it the scene becomes oddly enjoyable. Never mind that a major foreign city is completely obliterated (it’s not American, so who cares, right?).

3.25 stars out of 5

Movie Review: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)


G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is the type of summer blockbuster that is fated to be panned by critics, regardless of whether it actually deserves to be reviled.  In my humble opinion, if you know what to expect with this type of film (and come on, you should if you go to see it), it’s not actually all that bad.

First of all, it should be noted that while I may or may not have played with the Hasbro action figures (which may or may not have been cheap rip-offs) when I was younger, I am not very familiar with the G.I. Joe ‘story’, if there is one.  Nevertheless, that isn’t very important to this movie.

I won’t reveal the plot because there’s really no point – take a guess and you’ll probably be close.  You don’t need me to tell you that the film revolves around the ‘Joes’ who are trying to stop their evil enemies from world domination.  Trust me, it’s predictable – even the so-called twists are.  It’s also likely to be the first of many G.I. Joe films to come, depending on the success of this first one.

Anyway, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is pretty much what you’d expect from a film of this kind.  It has a superb cast: Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Marlon Wayans, Christopher Eccleston, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jonathan Pryce, Arnold Vosloo (the Mummy!), Brendan Fraser (cameo) and Ray Park (Darth Maul!).  It also features some sub-par acting, at least by these actors’ standards.

Also as expected, the film is extremely loud and relentless, with non-stop action and all types of battle scenes, from the ground to the sky to the sea, from hand-to-hand combat to exhilarating sword fights, from bullets to hi-tech blasters to ninja stars, and of course the obligatory car chase scenes – you name it, you got it.  All of these sequences are filmed with the subtlety of a sledge-hammer, and while some of it was exciting, it still felt like something was missing.  Perhaps it was the predictability, the apparent invincibility of the characters, or maybe it was just a lack of heart.

The special effects go without saying.  It’s seamless and often eye-popping.  However, it is the stuff that doesn’t rely on special effects – the hand-t0-hand and particularly the sword fights – that really steal the show.  They are meticulously choreographed and there’s no over-use of quick-cut editing.  Oh, and there’s also the cool technological gadgets, weapons and machinery.  If you can suspend all disbelief then you may think they are pretty cool.

So far so good.  Unfortunately, as expected, the good parts also come hand in hand with the appalling dialogue, the cheesy one-liners and horrible jokes that only generate laughs because they’re so bad.  Cringeworthy bad.

There you have it.  G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is what it is.  As long as you don’t expect something else then you may find it quite enjoyable, though even then, it has its limitations.

3 stars out of 5!