Tuesday, July 16, 2013

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! "Yo, Joe?"  More like, "No, Joe."  Ha ha...I'll punch myself in the face for that one.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation – 2 out of 5

When the first G.I. Joe movie came out, the response wasn’t the greatest. While the film had its problems, I still enjoyed it. Yes, the special effects were really bad, the acting wasn’t the greatest (it was made during a time when Channing Tatum didn’t understand the word “acting” or realize he’s better in comedies) and the story was incredibly stupid…BUT I did dig some of the action and had some fun watching it. When the trailer for the new film came out…

This trailer…

Wow, that remix of The White Stripes is badass! Anyway, when that trailer came out, I saw they were going for a grittier look to the Joes after the first one failed to impress the masses. I was okay with that. I mean, come one, look at that damn trailer, it looks awesome! Too bad it ended being worse than the last one.

Yes, The Rock may look like a badass holding that giant, phallic gun but it
doesn't make the movie any better.

The evil organization Cobra has control of the government and decides its time to take out the Joes for good. The evil Zartan, disguised as the President, orders a tactical strike and kills all the Joes…except for Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Flint (D.J. Cotrona) and Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki). Now these remaining fighters must get a force together to stop Cobra Commander and his plan to control the world. Together with Snake Eyes (Ray Park), the Cobra agent Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) and the first Joe ever; Col. Joe Colton (Bruce Willis), the G.I. Joes are out to stop the impostor President, destroy Cobra Commander's plans and avenge their fallen brothers…and, if there’s time, save the world.

If we only saw this man's birth certificate than none of this Cobra impersonating the
President business would have occurred.

"Let's make sure we put our symbol on the satellite
we are about to shoot into space so that no one
can see it...it's all a part of the plan!"
 I really, really wanted to like this film (see the trailer again to understand why) but the final product was just a mockery of entertainment. First off, the dialogue in this film is facepalmingly bad. The script tries to be pithy and witty with its one-liners but it felt like it was written by older men trying to appeal to the internet generation without really understanding today’s pop culture. For example, a bad excuse for a one-liner involves a reference to the Snuggie and try not to cringe when Cobra Commander leaves Destro to die before saying, “You’re out of the band.”

"Guys, I sneezed in my helmet and I can't see anything."

Matters only get worse when you have to sit through sound effects that were clearly on loan from the Transformers films. Granted this is a weak complaint and looks like I’m trying to find bad things about the movie but after the third use of slo-mo and the opening bass drop of a dubstep song accompanying it, the effect loses its novelty…then depression kicks in when you realize you still have an hour and a half of the movie to sit through and have to deal with this combination another hundred times.

Hmm, that window pattern looks familiar...

Little compares to the unimaginative action and really bad acting this film tosses at you. Unlike the first film, the action in this movie may feel a little more realistic but, in doing so, made the action sequences nothing more than “bang bang, I got you.” There’s nothing here really besides long winded shoot-outs and some explosions that would barely register an erection in Michael Bay. However, it’s still easier to put up with than the acting (we’ll ignore Bruce Willis’ performance because it’s clear he just needs money nowadays and doesn’t really care if we like what he’s doing or not).

It could have been worse, I guess...he could be doing another Die Hard movie.

Dwayne Johnson has made some great improvements as an actor since he first came on the scene but this movie looks more like his old attempts than anything else. His interactions with each and every other character feels forced and fake. Whenever there’s supposed camaraderie going on between him and another Joe, The Rock looks less like he’s interacting with a friend (or, at the very least, a guy on his team that he is in a cordial relationship with) and looks more like he is pretending to be interested in the person while, in his head, he is planning seven different ways on murdering them. But this may have to do with the fact that The Rock is clearly carrying a majority of the movie.

Behind the scenes shot of The Rock preparing for the movie.

D.J. Catrona and Adrianne Palicki both lack the screen presence and acting ability to be in a big-budget action film and only drag the film down to the sewers of forgettable entertainment. Palicki is slightly better than I’ve seen her in the past—and by “slightly better,” I mean she isn’t overacting the shit out of her role and isn’t proving she has an acting career only because she’s alright to look at. However, she proves that being alright to look at is the only reason she’s in this movie.

Okay, some moments in the movie she's harder to look at than others.

Catrona, on the other hand, is completely lifeless in his role as Flint. He would be forgettable if it wasn’t for how truly awful he is. His bad acting is the only thing that makes him a presence to remember in this movie and that’s not a good thing. While he looks like a generic dude you would see trying to find the tightest “Tap Out” shirt he can find that will adequately display how manly he thinks he is, his performance just screams, “Look at me! I can’t act for shit but, miraculously, got a starring role in this summer blockbuster!” Having to carry two lame ducks in this movie is the only reason I can think of for why The Rock looks like he just set his acting abilities back 10 years.

I'm just guessing but something tells me that Catrona drinks a lot of Monster
Energy Drinks and has a pickup truck with a pair of testicles dangling from the bumper.

The only aspect I actually enjoyed in this film was the story of Storm Shadow. Seeing him team with the Joes in order to clear his name from a past tragedy added an interesting element to the movie and also showcased the only action scenes in the film that were worthy of note. Byung-hun Lee is just a badass as the Cobra ninja but drawing from the source material for this film and taking a deeper dive into his backstory ended up becoming the film’s only saving grace.

Lee could have saved this film but there are limits to what he can do.

The rest of the film is an unbridled disappointment of high expectations gone horrible awry. The trailer made the film look good and I also enjoyed that Ray Stevenson (the man who is the best Punisher, in my book) as Firefly in the film, however, the end result was just a slapped together sequel that was weak on nearly every possibly conceived front. But can you expect anything less from director Jon M. Chu? I’m not a Hollywood movie executive but when you are looking for a director to helm your action figure-based action extravaganza, you don’t say, “Get me the guy who directed Step Up 2, Step Up 3D and that shitty Justin Bieber documentary.”

"Okay, Firefly, after you blow up the prison, I want you to say, 'You got served,'
and moonwalk away." - Jon M. Chu

"Why yes, Mr. Director, I can make this film even
 But what do I know? At some point, the filmmakers even said, “Hey, let’s cast RZA as a blind martial arts master.” Apparently they didn’t see his “acting” skills in The Man with the Iron Fists and, even more apparently, didn’t laugh when they heard him read his lines and do so sounding like a two year old boy with a speech impediment. After seeing him show up in this film, it actually felt like the producers were taking a page out of Michael Bay’s book, How to Shit All Over the Beloved Memories of Someones Childhood, and were actively trying to make an absolutely abysmal film. I’m surprised they didn’t cast Adam Sandler to be in this one as Snow Job or have Harvey Fierstein come in to play Shipwreck.

The same tactic was used on test audiences.

Maybe my expectations were too high for G.I. Joe: Retaliation but the end product was incredibly disappointing. However, looking at the facts on paper—like the director of dance battle movies behind the camera, the script and having a bad rapper (and even worse actor) play a blind ninja—this movie was clearly doomed to be a shitty sequel…I was just too dazzled by the great trailer to notice.

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