G.I. Joe: Retaliation The inevitable sequel that nobody really wanted

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I'll admit that I own G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. It's not a great movie. I've been tempted to do one of my Real(ish)-Time Response hubs with it as the bad-movie focus. But I will also admit that I enjoy it. It's overblown, over amped and terribly ridiculous, but it's the kind of overdone action that I can actually enjoy when I just want action.

The Accelerator Suits? Completely stupid.

Nano-mites? Not nearly as interesting as they wanted.

And I'm really not sold on Channing Tatum's performance. Not particularly charismatic enough to carry the story in that central a role.

That being said, as soon as I watched it, I knew for certain that it was only a matter of time before they made a followup.

And personally, I think this one comes across much better.

But first, the story

If you haven't seen the first movie, there are just a couple things you need to know. First off, I don't blame you. But more to the point of understanding this story, there's a quick slideshow-style summary at the beginning. Cobra Commander (Luke Bracey replaces Joseph Gordon-Levitt from last time) and Destro were captured and put in a special prison. The President of the United States (Jonathan Pryce) has been replaced by master-of-disguise Zartan (Arnold Vosloo).

Duke (Channing Tatum), recruited to the Joes last time, is now one of their go-to men along with his pal Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson). That is until something goes south after an op. While waiting for an extraction team, Duke, Roadblock and their team, including Flint (D.J. Cotrona) and Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki), are hit by one of Cobra's operatives, killing all but three of the Joes.

Meanwhile, Snake Eyes (Ray Park) is labeled a traitor, along with the rest of the Joes, after he is accused of a high-profile assassination.

After the strike team takes out most of his platoon, Roadblock leads the survivors back home to try to clear the G.I. Joe name. They are able to figure out that the president has most likely been replaced, and attempt to enlist the help of a former Joe legend, General Joe Colton (Bruce Willis).

On the way, they reunite with the white-clad ninja, Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) (who I assumed was dead after last movie) and meet a thug with a personal swarm of robo-bugs, Firefly (Ray Stevenson).

Dot Dot Dot

It's kind of telling that only two Joes from last time even appear this time around: Duke and Snake Eyes (thankfully, his ridiculous rubber lips decided not to show up in this movie either). And even then, one of those is only barely in the movie anyway. But that probably says more about the last movie than this one.

The action is still frenetic, and a bit overblown. But overall, I'd say it feels less cartoony. The movie still inherited a couple bits of ridicu-tech from the previous movie, but the accelerator suits are gone. There's no underwater base and mini-sub firefight. It's much less stupid, and becomes more enjoyable as a result.

Dwayne Johnson has never been a particularly strong dramatic actor, but he fits this role well. I could have used more Bruce Willis, though. Have you seen the trailers with him? It practically feels like they've put almost his whole performance into those trailers.

Come on, gimme more!

It's still not a wonderful movie, but it's enjoyable and fun, though a darker tone than Rise of Cobra. If this had been what the first one was like, I think people would have a considerably better impression of the franchise possibilities. Still not perfect, but better.

It's great to finally see Cobra Commander looking the way he should have in the first place, however my two favorite characters when I was growing up were Destro and Zartan. Zartan is quite different from the way he was in the cartoon, but it could be worse.

However, while Destro was my all-time favorite, he gets barely even a nominal appearance in this movie. Of course, considering his silver head, there would have been significant special effects every time he appeared on-screen.

Maybe in the future?

And for those of you who like 3D, this is a conversion. I'd sworn off conversions, but I decided to give this one a shot. I've seen worse conversions and this one isn't bad. I could see a few parts that gave them trouble in converting it to 3D, but overall, it works. In my book, it's always better when actually filmed in 3D, but this one is fine.

But what do you think?

3 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of G.I.Joe: Retaliation

So while it's a step up, it could still use some improving. But it's a hard one for me to rate. I think I enjoyed this one more than the actual quality of the movie deserves. But I'd have to give it a weak 7 / 10, almost a strong 6.

G.I. Joe Retaliation is rated PG-13 for combat and action violence (mostly bloodless) a little language and brief sensuality.

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