G.I. Joe: Retaliation (“My Theories On Why I Didn’t Like It”)

24 Apr


Synopsis: The G.I. Joes are not only fighting their mortal enemy Cobra; they are forced to contend with threats from within the government that jeopardize their very existence. (Rated PG-13; 1 hour, 50 minutes)

What happened here? I love movies like this! Did I suddenly transform into a fussy old critic overnight, or did this movie actually screw up a really easy-to-please genre? Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if the first one was a good movie. I’m not claiming that. At no point in my life would I have told someone to see it as a quality film, with a drop of substance. But when has that stopped me from having a grand old time watching an action spectacle? Read my review for The Last Stand, and especially Olympus Has Fallen, action movies can be extremely entertaining in spite of having little to no substance. There just needs to be some good fight scenes, and everything else is icing on top of the guaranteed fun I’ll have watching it play out. That certainly was true for the mediocre first G.I. Joe flick. Something strange happened here, and I’m trying to figure out what it was. There were definitely entertaining (and visually cool) scenes peppered into the movie, but somehow I just wasn’t particularly interested in it as a whole.  That’s a curious phenomenon for someone who enjoyed watching every lousy blockbuster from Green Lantern to The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift, I’m not exactly tough to please when there are explosions or superheroes involved.

It’s hard to put my finger on why this is, but let’s look at some possible explanations:

-The direction was terrible. This is one of the more likely reasons, as the movie just didn’t flow well from one scene to the next. The action somehow came across as loud but unexciting, and the quiet scenes in-between….well, you don’t really expect the quiet scenes in G.I. Joe to be interesting, do you? The director in question is Jon M. Chu, and after looking him up I can’t say he really let me down based on his dossier. His last movie? Justin Bieber: Never Say Never. Umm, okay, talk about setting the bar low; his last movie was literally a glorified promo for the boy-singer and his famous butch-lesbian haircut. Before that the only movies I’d even heard of from Chu were Step Up 2 and 3. His entire career seems to be about making dance movies…please don’t quit your day-job Mr. Chu. How he managed to land the gig directing what I assume was meant to be a tent-pole blockbuster, is simply beyond me.

-The writing was dull. Unlike my example of the director, this actually does surprise and sadden me. The writers were Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick, a team who haven’t written many screenplays, but did come up with the hilariously witty (and gruesome) Zombieland, which was only brilliant BECAUSE of its writing. How they can go from that movie (and its upcoming sequel) to this one, is an example of major disappointment. With a dumb movie like this you don’t expect Shakespeare, but you can at least hope to have fun overall. I think they may have spent too much time trying to include as many characters from the G.I. Joe universe as possible, and less time creating an entertaining, cohesive story. Which leads me to…

-Too many characters. At a certain point more really is less, and creating a movie with an endless supply of characters and cameos just to sell more action figures is lame. When doing my usual research into which poster to use for this blog post, I found so many different ones absolutely full of characters that never even crossed over with one another. They literally couldn’t fit everyone onto a group poster. I’m not saying there haven’t been good ensemble movies; I certainly have liked most of the X-Men films, but they manage to just…be better. In those movies you’re excited to see a new mutant and watch his or her cool powers on display, but here there’s nothing  particularly distinctive about one person from another, so there isn’t a cool factor being served. Thus in this movie, less would have been more. PLEASE NOTE: If you grew up collecting these action figures, then I accept that seeing each character appear on screen may be somewhat cool; but that makes for less of a cohesive story, and more of a nostalgia-trip that gets really old, really quickly.)

-Most of the main characters were uninteresting. Sure, there’s Channing Tatum having a cute repartee with Dwayne Johnson (a.k.a. ‘The Rock’), but the main focus of the movie is The Rock along with two cardboard cutout characters who would normally be supporting cannon fodder. You know, the characters whose only line of dialogue is, “Let’s get ’em!” right before getting shot in an action movie. Seriously, you get all of these supporting actors who you want to see more of (Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis, Joseph Mazzello) but noooo, it’s some random boring actor playing Flint, and pretty eye candy with little personality playing Lady Jaye. Why couldn’t THEY just die like the token black guy in a horror movie? It almost made it interesting when the story cut to the cartoonishly AWFUL performance by RZA playing Blind Master, that couldn’t help but make you giggle in its awful corniness.

-My memory is awful. Let’s be honest, nostalgia can get you pretty far. There have been plenty of lame movies that you can cut a lot of slack with, merely by the fun it is watching your childhood memories on the big screen. Transformers to some degree achieved this, but even the awfully cheesy Masters Of The Universe with Dolph Lungren playing He-Man in 1987 was a combination of so-bad-it’s-good fun, along with the inherent childhood He-Man nostalgia. Somehow in spite of growing up watching G.I. Joe cartoons, and playing with some of their toys, I couldn’t remember anything other than a few familiar names. (Clearly one never forgets classic names like “Cobra Commander” and “Snake Eyes”, but truthfully I couldn’t even recall that Snake Eyes was a good guy! During the movie I had Adi on my left who knew nothing whatsoever about G.I. Joe, and Shlomo on my right reminding me who the heck everyone was. I imagine it was more fun for Shlomo since his memories were intact, but even he seemed to get pretty bored by it all. (Though to be fair, Shlomo gets bored pretty easily with most movies; if this was his blog it would likely be called, “It Stinks”.)

As I mentioned, there were a few visually cool scenes. The first was a simple little scene down a well that actually had a moment with some decent camerawork and the tone was eerie, and the best part was a fight scene in the midst of rappelling down a mountain. I have to admit, that one part was so outlandishly cool and inventive that it ALMOST saved the movie for me.  But then it would be followed up by the ridiculous RZA scenes, the wooden main characters (other than The Rock), and the weak overall direction/writing/action, which all left me disappointed by what half-decently capable hands would have created an entertaining 2 hours for this easy-going movie critic.

The movie was better than Dungeons & Dragons, the terrible 2000 movie based on many nerd’s childhood nostalgia. It was worse than G.I. Joe: The Rise Of The Cobra, the predecessor to this one. That one certainly wasn’t good, but with the director of The Mummy movies at the helm, along with a far more entertaining cast, it was always amusing fun, which is all I’m really looking for when I see a movie based on action figures.

Quality Rating: C

Boaz Rating: C+ (Trust me, for a big budget action movie this is a shockingly low Boaz Rating)


11 Responses to “G.I. Joe: Retaliation (“My Theories On Why I Didn’t Like It”)”

  1. Ephraim Osgood April 28, 2013 at 8:09 am #

    Enjoy the candor. i WAS A huge G.I. Joe fan growing up. All the cartoons all the action figures and yet I have ZERO interest in seeing these films as they seem to have very little in common with my childhood passion.


    • boazconstrictor April 28, 2013 at 9:53 am #

      That’s such a sad statement, and I can’t really argue with them either. Was that because of how bad they look, or if they looked like fun would you have wanted to see them due to your nostalgia?


  2. Linda Hepner April 28, 2013 at 11:46 am #

    Ok, you’re a fab writer. I won’t go see it. But repelling down a mountain… that I’d like to see! Last time I repelled down one it was the mountain repelling me, ie I skied down the wrong slope and it threw me into a Bavarian forest. I think rappelling would have worked much better. Ropes give hopes. Winks to you, Mum

    From: Boaz’s Movie Obsession >To: lrhepner@yahoo.com >Sent: Sunday, April 28, 2013 3:29 AM >Subject: [New post] G.I. Joe: Retaliation (“My Theories On Why I Didn’t Like It”) > >boazconstrictor posted: ” Synopsis: The G.I. Joes are not only fighting their mortal enemy Cobra; they are forced to contend with threats from within the government that jeopardize their very existence. (Rated PG-13; 1 hour, 50 minutes) What happened here? I love movies lik” >


    • boazconstrictor April 28, 2013 at 11:52 am #

      I technically repelled down a cliff into the mouth of a cave – once upon a time – I can hardly imagine doing it now, but then again it’s not as scary when you’re strapped in and have guides doing all the work for you.
      Thanks for the praise. 🙂


  3. Shlomo Abraham April 29, 2013 at 11:17 am #

    Declining memory? Hating action movies?

    Next thing you’re going to start concluding reviews with ‘kids these days have no taste’.


    • boazconstrictor April 29, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

      Lol, if one of the two of us is a curmudgeon, it ain’t me… 🙂


  4. movierob July 9, 2013 at 5:51 am #

    I cant believe that I finally find an action movie I really enjoyed and you trashed it 🙂


    • boazconstrictor July 9, 2013 at 9:01 am #

      LOL, I was just thinking the same thing when reading yours. Hillarious. Yeah, the three of us were quite bored watching it, and it takes a lot to bore me w/ action movies 🙂


      • movierob July 9, 2013 at 11:40 pm #

        guess in this sense, we are opposites – yin and yang 🙂


  5. boazconstrictor July 9, 2013 at 11:52 pm #

    So you’re Storm Shadown and I’m Snake Eyes? I get it.


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