Monday, April 8, 2013

GI Joe: Retaliation

This movie isn't great, let's just say it. But the effort to resurrect this franchise after the incomprehensible nonsense of its predecessor is not for nothing. The original trailers promised that everybody would die and had no clips of any returning characters from the first film. Then it dropped off last summer's roster to boost up the film for a 3-D release, which pretty much suggested that test audiences weren't impressed in initial screenings.

So I went in with very little expectation, which I think is probably best. Channing Tatum does return as Duke, and the movie follows where the first film left off, with Zartan impersonating the US President. But it's obvious that the movie intended to take a new direction, which is the best thing about it. In what also seems to be an effort to keep the budget a little lower than the first movie, the characters and story make a little more sense instead of constantly degenerating into mindless FX. Instead of silly black jumpsuits and iron man supersuits, the Joes actually dress like soldiers. Sometimes they even act like soldiers. Flint is kind of generic, but the Rock is awesome as Road Block and Adrianne Palicki as Lady Jaye makes up for the absence of Rachel Nichols. Bruce Willis' presence in the movie is an awkward ploy to give it some action cred, but it doesn't hurt.

Cobra Commander is pretty cool and all the Cobra guys feel more like they ought to, where they never really worked in the first movie. Snake Eyes doesn't have an unsettling molded mouth in his mask and his outfit looks more like the cool body armor it's meant to be.

The dialogue is stale and the jokes are by-the-numbers one-liners that don't really land, and the movie overall would just be okay if not for the awesome mountaintop ninja-fight halfway through. That fight scene is nothing short of badass and makes the whole movie worth it. Overall this movie's decent and it leaves the franchise in a much better position for future sequels, if it comes to that.

If nothing else, it's certainly better than the first one.

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