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False Priest Has Loads of Fun With G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)

Posted on the 12 April 2013 by Filmaholic Reviews @FilmaholicRvews

False Priest Has Loads of Fun With G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)


            So way, way back in 2009 we were treated to a pretty amazing—or perhaps amazingly terrible—movie based on some Hasbro toys. No, this was not Transformers 2. That was just confirmation that the devil exists and is capable of convincing millions of people to pay money to sit in a dark room while he shits all over them in slow motion for a few hours. Also it committed a greater sin still: it tried to co-opt the Terminator 2 moniker. One of the best action movies, hell one of the movies period, is diminished slightly by association with some mess about some feuding computer algorithms and All Spice (?) that I think Shia LaBeouf had in a sock (?). Anyway, even though all those people shelled out 400+ million dollars (domestic) for that Hasbro movie, the one they all should have seen instead grossed only about 150 million (domestic), G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA. It’s still a bad movie, but it is glorious. It does everything Transformers 2 did not, which pretty much all of which falls under the umbrella of embracing its ridiculousness. It’s a movie about toys, silly and over the top, and owns it all the way through. It’s a giant joke, and fortunately everyone seemed in on it.             Well, I’m sad to say that G.I. JOE: RETALIATION is not as ridiculously, terribly amazing as its predecessor. That said, it’s also quite simply not terrible and what it losses in the so-bad-it’s-great (of which there is still plenty), it gains by being a little (a little) more grounded, better characters (and acting), and action/plot pieces that are extremely fun and memorable (and not just in the “wow…wow that was bad” way). 

False Priest Has Loads of Fun With G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)

"Wow...wow that was bad."

  Case in point: the impressively well choreographed and executed scene of two of our heroes trying to abscond from a mountain keep with an unconscious body while ninjas pursue them. Oh, and all of this is happening against cliff faces and giant crevices as all parties involved swing from ropes like an Asian Spiderman. It’s the kind of scene that’s got a great over the top hook and is a joy to behold just from the ridiculousness of such action actually unfolding (so, kinda like the action in the first Joe), but is treated with enough sensibility and genuine skill in its direction that’s it’s just a fucking cool scene, regardless of how ridiculous it is. This scene is the movie’s high point, to be sure, and the rest of the movie is full of ridiculous bits, cool bits, cheesy bits- at times threatening to lose control of its delicate balance of somehow succeeding, though thankfully it never does.
  Those other parts, however, are definitely less of the “wow, this is legitimately good” variety and are more like the first Joe (though less completely ridiculous), where you know it’s not any good, but it’s damn enjoyable. That takes a combination of skill and selfawareness, which is why Transformers 2, which had neither, was not similarly enjoyable. Still, even if this movie isn’t on the whole a particularly great film (kinda like how a Big Mac is a pretty terrible burger, but its perdy tasty), there were many moments throughout where I was caught by surprise by how not bad certain things like characters/character arcs/emotional moments were. They weren’t great beats, and maybe they still weren’t even quite “good” either… but they were much better than they had to be and than what I was expecting. They gave the movie a nice little spice that the first one didn’t have (not that it tried to). At the same time, such moments didn’t feel at odds with the general ridiculous nature of the film (they aren’t that profound). The movie ends with a nice little medal-pinning scene, and there’s a surprisingly effective and touching moment involving Lady Jane and a personal thread that had been set up- these may be ridiculous characters played by characters who play that up, but they’ve also got something a little more humanizing to them as well. Therein lies the path to a Joe movie that can perhaps actually be a legitimately good ridiculous movie (maybe number 3?)
  Now, I know haven’t really mentioned specific characters or the plot. The plot really doesn’t matter. It’s simple, over the top, and provides for many ridiculous(ly awesome) scenes—just as it should be. No single character is particularly remarkable; no is really a star and they all get in, give a dose of why their character is great, and then give way to another character before anyone outstays their welcome… or is able to assume “main character status” and thus invite a desire for greater emotional investment than a movie like this should ever try to create *cough*transformers2fail*cough*. I suppose The Rock’s Roadblock is the main character… but that’s probably just because he’s played by The Rock, not because the story makes it so. Nearly every character has a memorable scene and, unlike the cast of the first G.I. Joe, should be set to return in G.I. Joe 3.
  So there you have it. G.I. Joe Retaliation is a bit more enjoyable than its predecessor, but it’s more importantly a better movie (which also means it’s enjoyable in different ways--- it’s not just G.I. Joe, Part 2 doing the exact same thing). For a sequel to an admittedly poor movie whose success might have just been a happy accident of landing the right tone, I honestly didn’t have high hopes for this movie. Get the tone slightly wrong or emphasize the wrong characteristics of the first film or any number of things, and this could have been gawdawful. What a happy little sequel we got, indeed.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation is property of Paramount Pictures, MGM, Skydance Productions, and Hasbro. This review was written by me.
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Copyright © Filmaholic Reviews, 2013

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