Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Not Your Average Joe

With a bevy of bullets, brawn and bad-assery, GI JOE: Retaliation delivers a better-than-to-be-expected thrill


ARTH VADER (AV): On the heels of a disappointing first big-budget effort (GI JOE: The Rise of Cobra, 2009), this next movie was actually slated for release nearly a year ago. The rumor was that the movie was just simply not ready. Glad they waited! This movie was stellar by comparison and does a good job of merging an expansive toy universe with modern day headline topics like terrorism and next-generation weaponry. To be a hundred percent honest, Ponty, I was expecting munch worse. 

THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): Then maybe I saw what you expected Vader.The Joe’s have a long history and even the recent version of them has extensive story from which to draw material. That said, there is almost never a need to draw directly from previous material...almost. This film follows the events of the first one, it’s just the places it takes you that’s the issue. Keeping continuity isn’t always better than a reboot.


AV: I am glad they took the extra time to polish this movie, because with the addition of new "JOE" stars, Dwayne Johnson (ROADBLOCK) and Bruce Willis (Original JOE) we got the movie we should have had in the first place. Fun, fast-paced and frivolous, this movie has started down the (long!) road to redemption for this short but potentially fun franchise. The movie's pacing and direction kept you engaged for the whole ride and the camera work was strong. 

TP: I don’t have a good thing to say about any of the three categories in this section. I thought the casting was shoddy, as was the acting...and the movie, although paced adequately, seemed disjointed as if some important parts were left on the cutting room floor. Although Dwayne Johnson continues to be a box office draw, I failed to see why anyone was drawn to him in this film. Adrianne Palicki was uneventful as was the brief appearance by Channing Tatum. The best performances were from Jonathan Pryce, especially in his dual role which was quietly comedic, and Byung-hun Lee. Lee brought the only real drama to the film as he seemed to be the only one taking his role serious. It seemed like Bruce Willis was just there to collect a drawing a few more fans from name recognition. 

AV: The effects shots were handled well–not too many and nothing terribly over the top. The orbital platform scenes were impressive and the destruction of London was impressive CGI—making the experience and the threat believable. Perhaps my favorite effects sequence is the battle in the mountain monastery with "Snake Eyes" (Ray "Darth Maul" Park) and the Red Ninjas. As many who know me well can attest, as a big action/sci-fi/fantasy movie fan, my favorite effects shots are always the ones that don't make me THINK I'm watching an effect shot. 

TP: The 3D was very nice and the other special effects were everything one could, at the very least, expect from a film like this. The action sequences were very good with the expected martial arts displays and larger-than-life explosions, but what caught my eye the most as done particularly well were the costume designs. I especially favored Storm Shadow and Cobra Commander’s wardrobe and thought what was lacking in substance, was made up in appearance.


AV: While I was horribly disappointed at the first JOE, this movie was fun. As I have told many in my corner of the world, 'this was a better movie than it deserved to be.' By that I mean the acting and story line were solid, action was good, pacing was sound and the effects were first-rate. The glitches for me were in scenes where the President is calling on the "GI JOEs" to be heroes. Lame. Or when the primary villain is identified as "Cobra Commander". I know these are the names but this does NOT go over well in dialogue onscreen and feels more childish and ridiculous when put into a serious story-telling context. Furthermore, the preposterous nature of "COBRA" commanding a fleet of new-age orbital weapons that no one else even knows is there is… well, stupid, That said, the movie was fun and I most definitely recommend seeing this one in 3D. When was the last time you heard me say THAT Potificator? 

TP: Indeed Vader, while I always recommend 3D, it’s taking time for you to warm to it. I looked deeply at this film, and that’s where it all fell apart. I never bought the relationship between Duke (Tatum) and Roadblock (Johnson) because they didn’t sell it. In fact it was very painful to watch as it seemed more forced with each passing scene. It was actually a relief when Duke was eliminated as I didn’t have to be subjected to the pain any longer. It was the same story with nearly everyone in the film, and the sooner they stopped talking and started shooting, the better. The bulk of the appeal of this film is with the action and effects. I realize that a film like this is supposed to be shallow and rely on the dazzle, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a good story and believable performances. 


AV: This movie was is a hit and even if it performed moderately at the box office, I gotta believe a third installment isn't far, if not inevitable. I honestly do think a better title for this movie would have been  GI JOE: Redemption both because of the story of how the JOEs redeem their honor and the fact that this is light years beyond their first onscreen debacle. I dare say, I am looking forward to another… 

TP: Of course they could make another, and another, and another...but really, why? They left the door wide open for a third installment, and with so many Joe characters that have yet to make an appearance, it’s probable we’ll have another round of flip kicks and explosions. Anything for money... smh. 


Arth Vader rates  GI JOE: Retaliation: While it is just too much of a stretch for me to suggest anyone should accept the sheer silliness of this movie's story and the ridiculousness of it's premise, the flick goes a long way to entertain and I must admit, I liked it. In the end, that's all any entertainment effort wants you to walk away with. So, JOE, mission: accomplished. Thus, for me, this better-than-expected follow-up pulls a solid seven (7) Cobra-catching, busted blocks.

THE PONTIFICATOR rates G.I Joe Retaliation: A movie that’s only bread and butter are special effects and action isn’t really a bad thing. I really enjoy those types of movies, if they are done well. This film wasn’t done particularly well when it came to characters and choice of actors and the action sequences were bridges over shoddy story and poor performances. This film was thoroughly five busted blocks...if not for the innovative action sequences which exploded an additional block for a total of six (6) busted blocks. 

G.I. Joe: Retaliation: 6.5/10 Busted Blocks

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