Let me start by saying I absolutely DESPISED the first G.I. Joe movie. People blast Michael Bay's Transformers franchise, but no one butchered my childhood worse than Stephen Sommers. The first movie was complete garbage. Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow being the only redeeming qualities. Paramount, however, made a fortune on the first installment and here we are with a sequel that few asked for. I like to think of myself as a realistic fan boy. I am OK with updates and changes to a certain degree. These characters had my love as a very young boy growing up in the 80's and I saw them all with different eyes. I am realistic in the fact that no one could perfectly recapture my childhood. It doesn't stop the director of Step Up 3 and The Justin Bieber movie from trying.
I will warn you that spoilers will follow so read at your own risk. Most people get the concept that G.I. Joe is a highly trained special mission force. The best of the best. Cobra is the bad guy and is usually foiled at every turn by the brave men and women of the Joe Team. Retaliation takes pieces of the original cartoon, G.I. Joe: Renegades, and the comics that I barely read. The movie picks up where the first left off. I wish they would have just hit the reset button, but they even acknowledge the horribles masks of both Destro and Cobra Commander. Zartan is posing as the President and has a Cobra laced secret service. The Joes are called to retrieve a nuke and are double crossed and wiped out. Spoiler number one in 3.......2.......1.......
Duke is dies. The report of how he dies is spot on. Despite the hype and redone marketing, Channing Tatum is in the movie for about 23 minutes. We never really see the body and their isn't much hype surrounding it, but it happened and so did some Tatum re-shoots. Flint, Lady Jaye and Roadblock are the only remaining Joes and thus begins their mission of retaliation. They find Bruce Willis and reunite with Snake Eyes to take down Cobra.
How is the movie different and what went wrong...again? The story is much closer to what G.I Joe is. Chu had a better script to work with, but it still feels wrong. Bruce Willis is not needed and they still can't get Zartan right. The potential was there, but he falls short and it's a shame. He is one of everyone's favorite characters. Storm Shadow is back, but it's never explained how he lived through the last film. They reference the film, but left out key pieces of info like that. The Rock is a decent Roadblock. I think he had the look and captured a lot of what the character was, but I think most Joe fans would be upset with the movie centered around him. Flint is who everyone remembers as number two, but he is anything but a leader. He comes across as more of the Lt. Falcon character from the cartoon movie. I think the Rock is better in things like Fast Five. He is great, but it's not all about him. The movie is so much about Roadblock that there isn't much room to develop Flint or anyone else.
Duke is a central character to the Joe myths.He is also not a Captain which drives me insane. He deserved a better send off which leads me to believe he is alive and will be back for the inevitable third installment. It feels like Tatum's re-shoots were to build a relationship with Roadblock. Funny at times, but it still felt like there was forced emotion. We as an audience are forced into believing those two were great friends. Bruce Willis adds to the unnecessary bad comedy and really doesn't need to be there at all. General Hawk, Ripcord, Heavy Duty, and Scarlett are not even mentioned. I am OK with that because they were all done so badly in the first movie that I was happy to see them gone. The film seemed to pick and choose what it wanted to remember from the first movie. So what worked?
Cobra Commander looks and acts like Cobra Commander. He was actually cool to see on camera and I applaud Chu for nailing the character. Storm Shadow is equally cool and I was happy to see that the story with he and Snake Eyes lifted straight from the comics. The battle on the mountain was fun to watch and looked fantastic. It was a little far fetched, but that is what made G.I. Joe so great. Snake Eyes is by far the coolest character and is treated much better in this go around.
Firefly steals the show. He looks like Firefly and Chu got the character perfectly from what I remember. He felt like the cartoon character brought to life on the screen. The motorcycle and exploding , robotic insects are very cool. The only mistake they make with him is at the end of the movie.
I loved the vehicles. The H.I.S.S. tank and the rest looked great on the big screen. Chu came much closer to what fans remember than what Sommers did in the first movie. Cobra Commander even uses what looks like a updated Fang copter. The vehicles also brought a lot of Joe cameos. Clutch is mentioned and it looks like other classic Joes found their way into the film. Chu also did us all a favor and lost those ridiculous black outfits from the first. G.I. Joe looks like the military unit it's supposed to be.
It wasn't all bad. It is much better than the first, but it's flaws are big ones. I would have rather scene the M.A.S.S. Device or Cobra Island come into play, but it didn't happen. I am betting Duke doesn't stay dead. Like him or not, Tatum is a viable commodity. Chu got close. It isn't great, but I wouldn't have asked for my money back or walked out either. The thing that Chu did figure out right away is that a film without Marlon Wayans is usually a better one. That is G.I. Joe Retaliation. Now you know and knowing is half the battle.