HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: G.I. Joe: Retaliation
HTS Overall Score:87
There’s several types of “cheesy” films out there. There’s the lunacy of “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” and “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” on one side and then we’ve got good old comic book cheese, which we have here. The first “G.I. Joe” movie was high on camp and slathered in hi powered CGI. It was one of those films that you either loved for the cheesy, goofy camp or you out right hated it. I thoroughly enjoyed “G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra” for the campy “Yo Joe!” cheer fest that it was, and was fairly leery of this new iteration. Add the fact that “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” was delayed almost a full year because the studios wanted to post convert the film to 3D and you can say I was NOT looking forward to this film. Channing Tatum and Jonathon Pryce seemed to be the only recurring characters (well besides Snake Eyes) and it just reeked of low budget desperation. Due to the positive fan hype I went into this one with a mixture of trepidation and anticipation and came out VERY pleasantly surprised.
After the events of the first film Destro and Cobra Commander are both locked up in a secret prison facility that is nigh unescapable and Zartan (Arnold Vosloo/Jonathon Pryce) is masquerading as the President of the United States, while Duke (Channing Tatum) is now in charge of his own “Joe” unit. His second in command is a beefcake known as Roadblock (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and under the orders of the “President” take out a nuclear arms facility in the Middle East. At the same time Snake Eyes is arrested for supposedly taking out the Palestinian prime minister and sent to the same secret prison for incarceration while the Joes are blamed for the attack and systematically wiped out by Presidential order. As one would guess from such a devious plan the Joes had nothing to do with the attack, Storm Shadow (Byung-Hun Lee) was the one masquerading as Snake Eyes (Ray Parks) the whole time and uses the surprise to free Cobra commander with the help of Firefly (Ray Stevenson). With the help of Zartan in his role of President, Cobra Commander steps up to fully take control of the world in a gigantic Nuclear power play.
However, it seems that not ALL of the Joes were killed in action. Roadblock, Lady Jaye and Flint have narrowly escaped the massacre and are out for blood. Slipping home undetected they team up with the real Snake Eyes and his protege Jinx (Elodie Yung). There they figure out that the President is NOT who they thought he was and uncover Cobra Commander’s plot to take over the world. With the help of the original “Joe” (Bruce Willis) the 5 must band together and do what they do best. Take care of the bad guys and save the world.
“G.I. Joe: Retaliation” is every bit as cheesy as the original, but it feels different in just about every way. Gone are the wild CGI battles and “Yo Joe!” one liners, instead replaced by tongue in cheek one liners that are every bit as cheesy and much more personal “in your face” feel to the fights. Snake Eyes and Stormshadow’s final confrontation fight scene in the mountain stronghold is a sight to behold and easily trumps the fight scene they had together in the first movie. The scope of the movie felt so much broader as well. The budget was obviously tightened, but director John M. Chu made the most of it and gave us a mountain top fight scene with a cadre of Ninjas that is truly stunning in both scope and choreography. There are of course some wince worthy lines, but I came out of the film with a big sloppy grin all over my face. It’s cheesy, but it’s comic book cheesy done well. Good guys covered in muscles and LOTS of guns, with a villain who’s twirling his mustache and main goal is world domination; and for ONCE Cobra Commander is wearing his traditional outfit complete with a near traditional face mask.
There was some limitations to the film, I must admit. With only 5 Joes in existence it felt a bit cramped at times and smaller than it should have. The leaving out of Destro was truly puzzling (especially since he’s covered in a metallic silver face mask so even if the original actor didn’t want to come back it could work), and don't get me started on having the RZA play the Blind Master. Completely wince worthy performance. Overall what makes or breaks these films are the action scenes and the chemistry between characters. The first movie’s action pieces were decent but relied too heavily on CGI and flitted from character to character without much development. Here the action scenes just WORKED. Hand to hand combat was fast and furious, in your face and never too broken up by shaky cam or a billion cuts per second, and the characters worked well together for the most part. Dwayne Johnson always comes through when playing his action roles and Bruce Willis is another good addition to any action roster. As a result the characters gelled well. The only problem was with a few of the secondary characters. Lady Jaye and Flint felt a bit under developed, which made them come across as a bit awkward and out of place at times. So while the addition of “the Rock” helped immensely and Snake Eyes and Stormshadow played well together some of the supporting cast felt a bit superfluous.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of combat violence and martial arts action throughout, and for brief sensuality and language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=12121[/img]To say that “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” had a fantastic picture would be an understatement. From the moment the opening scene started to roll I knew we were in for a visual treat. Crystal clear from beginning to end, Paramount has given us a truly beautiful 2.39:1 AVC encode for us Joe fans. Colors are rich and vibrant throughout with some picture perfect (excuse the pun) clarity. From the beautifully blue and white ice mountains, to the greens of the Whitehouse lawn, the colors are about as stunning as one could hope for. Detail is magnificent with only the SLIGHTEST hint of softness in few scenes. Had it not been for those very few scenes of softness I would have given this one a perfect score. Facial detail is incredible, whether it be the sweaty glisten of Roadblock’s face or the intricate detail on Snake Eye’s mask. The black levels are every bit as good as the rest of the picture, and rest assured, there is no evidence of black crush. Shadow detail is excellent, as one would guess from my ravings, and I have no complaints whatsoever with digital artificating. A truly pristine transfer that is certain to be a great demo disc to show off to your friends.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=12123[/img]Now THIS is what I’m talkin bout! I love a good action soundtrack where you’re pinned to the seat with sonic concussions and it’s about as “in your face” as a marine drill sergeant. Luckily for me “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” doesn’t disappoint, with a stunning 7.1 Dolby TrueHD track it roars onto the scene with an aggressiveness that rival’s The Rock inside the ring. Surrounds are used with great aplomb to totally immerse you into the film with the sounds of bullets and swords coming from all direction. The small details are done with just as much care as the over the top sounds as well. The creaking and whistle of a rope zip line is replicated with razor sharp precision and even the soft footsteps of Storm Shadow are perfectly audible and clean as can be. The dialogue is locked solidly in the center channel and audible at all times. The only time I had a hard time with dialogue was Channing Tatum’s annoying habit of mumbling his lines. The LFE, oh boy the LFE. Once it started it didn’t stop till the end credits rolled. Hard hitting bass lines rip through the movie on all levels, from the thunderous sounds of explosions and gunfire to the deep low end that just permeated the entire audio track. Beautiful and a treat for us audiophiles, Paramount’s 7.1 track fantastic from beginning to end and a tribute to the engineers.
• Director's Commentary
• Deleted Scenes
• G.I. Joe: Declassified: Mission Briefing
• G.I. Joe: Declassified: Deployment
• G.I. Joe: Declassified: Two Ninjas
• G.I. Joe: Declassified: The Desert Attack
• G.I. Joe: Declassified: Cobra Strikes
• G.I. Joe: Declassified: The Lone Soldiers
• G.I. Joe: Declassified: The Monastery
• G.I. Joe: Declassified: Fort Sumter
As a fan of the first “G.I. Joe” film I have to recommend “Retaliation” as a good fun romp for everyone who loves action and comics blended together. With top notch cinematography and more solid grasp of the characters at large John M. Chu did a great job of creating a more grounded and marketable “G.I. Joe” film for the masses. The Video and Audio scores are absolutely stunning and with the addition of ACTUAL extras for once on a new release this is a must buy for comic book lovers and collectors alike. For those who have just a passing interest in the campy comic book universe this is still at the very least a “watch” recommendation.
Starring: Dwane Johnson, Channing Tatum, Ray Stevenson, Bruce Willis
Directed by: John M. Chu
Written by: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1, French, Spanish, Portuguese DD 5.1
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Runtime: 110 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: July 30th, 2013
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Buy G.I. Joe: Retaliation 3D Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch it
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