If I was to ask you if you to choose between Stephen Sommers the director of the Mummy movies, and Van Helsing, or Jon Chu the director of Step Up 2, Step Up 3D, and the Justin Bieber documentary, to helm a G.I. Joe movie, chances are you would choose wrong. Jon Chu, known mostly for directing music related films knocked it out of the park with G.I. Joe: Retaliation. It completely wiped the craptastic taste out of my mouth that I had thanks to the Sommers movie, G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra.
As a fan of the Larry Hama comic and the original cartoon, I had a lot of problems with Rise of Cobra which included costume design, plot devices, and character issues. For the most part none of the characters in Rise of Cobra acted the way they should have. Almost all of that was fixed in Retaliation. This movie felt like it was made by a real G.I. Joe fan that wanted to stay true to the original concepts and make some updates and changes where it felt necessary. It nearly perfectly blends elements from the comic book, cartoon, and the animated movie.
The story takes place sometime after the events of Rise of Cobra, where Cobra Commander and Destro are locked up, Storm Shadow is missing, and Zartan is impersonating the President of the United States. Channing Tatum reprises his role as Duke, and leads the team into a trap setup by Zartan to make the Joe’s look like they turned on America. After Zartan’s plot is completed, Roadblock played by The Rock, leads the remaining team to find out why they were set up, and to get revenge on whoever did it.
After the Joes are out-of-the-way, that leaves Zartan free to set up a new élite force in America that he decides to call Cobra. This leads me to one of my only criticisms of the film. I’m pretty sure that everyone in this fictional universe knows that the Eiffel Tower was destroyed by Destro and Cobra Commander in the previous film. Why would you create an élite team and call them Cobra? Why wouldn’t this raise any flags? Can you imagine any country creating a new military organization and calling them the Bin Laden’s?
Like I said, that was one of a very short list of criticisms. Almost everything else was done right. The action felt right, the casting felt right, and the costuming felt right. The only thing that felt a little off character wise, was Flint, who acted more like Falcon from the G.I. Joe animated movie. The effects of this film were good, but not overdone like they were in Rise of Cobra. Everything felt a lot more realistic and less Sci-Fi thanks to the lack of cyber suits, and ray guns.
I know I’ve mentioned it several times, but it bears repeating. The costuming in this film was great. When I was a kid, one of my favorite toys was Firefly, and Ray Stevens pulled him off really well. There was just something about his costume that felt cool. They also managed to do a good job with Cobra Commander’s mask. While it wasn’t perfect, it was really good. The only thing I would have liked to have changed was his voice. While I can understand the cartoon voice we loved in the 80’s isn’t that menacing and doesn’t really fit, I felt like the deep computerized voice was a bit much. Cobra Commander voiced by Robert Baker, would have given James Earl Jones a run for his money.
I watched the 3D version of the movie, and it had some good 3D effects, but I don’t think you necessarily have to see the film in 3D. One of the rumored reasons that the film was delayed from last summer was to add 3D to the film. The other rumored reason was to add more interaction between Duke and Roadblock to give them a more believable relationship. Both of which worked out well. I don’t know if it will pay Paramount back at the box office, but it was worth the wait in my book.