So two years after it was announced, and 17 months after I visited the set, the film is finally here. On a Tuesday afternoon, I went to the Paramount screening room here in Manhattan to check it out, and lo and behold Larry Hama and his daughter Ava sat right next to me to see it for the first time as well. As a Joe fan, it was surreal.
So what’s verdict?
In a nutshell, G.I. Joe Retaliation is HOT! It kicks all sorts of Cobra ass!
I liked the first one, but I hands down love this one more. If I was 13 years old, THIS is the Joe movie I would have loved to have seen. The first Joe film, as fun as it was, took it’s cues from the cartoon. This time around, G.I. Joe Retaliation goes right to the source material – the early Larry Hama Marvel Comics run.
It’s no secret that there is a sequence in the film that is an homage to the Silent Interlude Issue #21, but there is another popular storyline from the twenties that is also used in the film as well. It caught me by surprise because I purposely avoided all this film’s spoilers during the production. Seeing this particular storyline unfold on the screen and watching Larry Hama’s reaction almost made me emotional. It’s perhaps one of the most special moments I ever had being a fan of this mythology for thirty years now.
Make no mistake about it, director Jon Chu and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick are Joe fans that loved the early Marvel run and it clearly shows.
G.I. Joe Retaliation is not only fun, it’s grittier, and more action packed than the first one. There are some incredible action sequences here.
In case you haven’t seen the first film, the only storyline that survives in the sequel is the one that has Zartan (Arnold VosLoo) currently in the White House as the imposter President.
Off the bat, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson absolutely owns this movie as Roadblock. After a surprise sneak attack in Pakistan decimates the Joe ranks, Roadblock gathers up Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki) and Flint (D.J. Cotrona). and goes off the grid to get revenge on those responsible.
Back in the States, Firefly (Ray Stevenson) & Storm Shadow (Byung-Hun Lee) break Cobra Commander out of prison while Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and Jinx get orders from the Blind Master (Rza) to track Storm Shadow down at a mountain retreat in the Himalayas to discover the next part of Cobra’s plan. Snake & Jinx encounter not only Storm but Red Ninjas in an awesome homage to the Silent Interlude issue.
Later on in the film, Roadblock enlists the help of the original G.I. Joe, General Joe Colton (Bruce Willis) to help expose Zartan and rescue the actual President.
Now it’s no secret the film was delayed to post convert it properly to 3D. Although, I’m not a fan of post converted 3D, I can’t lie, the producers took the care and the time to do this right. The 3D doesn’t hurt the film but contributes to it.
The film culminates in a big showdown at Fort Sumter and leaves it quite open for a sequel. Hopefully, the 3rd film happens.
Fun, action packed, tightly paced, and tonally in the vein of the original Marvel run, Jon Chu gives longtime Joe fans the film they have been waiting for. It’s a hell of a ride I’m going to be seeing at least two more times with an audience. This Joe fan is pleased. It’s quite the love letter to the original comics.