Of all the films I’ve talked about with friends over the last few years, I don’t think that there’s one that has split people more than G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra. Some folks absolutely enjoyed the flick, which introduced us to a team that featured Snake-Eyes, Duke, Scarlett, General Hawk and others doing battle against The Baroness, Storm Shadow and the men who would eventually become Destro and Cobra Commander. Then there were others who hated the plot, the acting and the fact that Cobra doesn’t become Cobra until the end of the film.
I rewatched Rise Of Cobra last week and while, to my mind it’s not a particularly good film, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I remembered it. That being said, its sequel, G.I. Joe: Retaliation is hugely superior in every regard.
Read our review after the jump!
In Retaliation, aspect of the first film are utilized while others are ignored. It’s actually a very solid way of rebooting the franchise without dismissing the first film. The main glue for the story is Jonathan Pryce as the President of the United States…and Zartan. That final element of the first film, arguably its best, is the root of Retaliation and one that leads to the Joe team’s decimation.
The film’s star is Dwayne The Rock Johnson, who owns every scene he’s in as Roadblock and brings a serious star power that the first film lacked. Ray Park is back as Snake-Eyes, this time sans a mask that shows you his mouth. One of the most thrilling scenes of the film is the one you’ve likely seen in commercials – the mountainside ninja battle. I’m glad the producers and director John Chu took the time to do a 3D transfer on Retaliation, as it makes this amazing battle that much more tense. As well, there are moments prior to it that are taken straight out of the classic G.I. Joe issue Silent Interlude that should have all Joe fans smiling. Kudos also for thr casting of Ray Stevenson as Firefly, who is a lot of fun in the role.
For every great battle scene (and there are many), there are some serious plot holes that could have and should have been fixed. Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Zombieland) know better, but luckily I enjoyed the film enough that I’m willing to overlook them. However, most critics won’t be, which means Retaliation is going to score some very poor reviews.
In the end, as a long time Joe fan, I was very satisfied with what I saw in G.I. Joe: Retaliation. It’s far from the perfect film, but to me it was a huge step up from the first one. With the addition of The Rock to the cast and a Cobra Commander that acts like the badass he was in the comic books, I’m hopeful this is the beginning of a new era of G.I. Joe on the big screen,.