Sunday, April 7, 2013

Ten Statements About....G.I. JOE: RETALIATION (2013)

"What does it say about you that you prefer hanging out
with me instead of Seinna Miller, mate?"

"Drive it like you stole it!”
“Dude, as your friend, I’m telling need a new catchphrase."

1) Oh, Lord, is this film soulless and without anything resembling life.  What little energy this film has comes from the performances of people like Dwayne Johnson, Jonathan Pryce and Walter Goggins.  Without those performances, all we have is a string of place settings designed solely to get us from one 3-D set piece to the next.

Which is doubly puzzling considering how poor the 3-D transfer and the action sequences are.

2) For a film that really, really wants to be a twisty comic book action thriller, there’s very little plot getting in the way of the narrative.  So much is made of the action sequences that the quieter moments seem forced.  There’s a definite sense of  director Jon M. Chu dancing around in an effort to hide the fact that there’s nothing inside this film other than big shouty things and explosions.

3) The MacGuffin that the film is built around--a way to wreck nuclear-weapon-level havoc without getting nuclear-weapon-level fallout--is potentially really good, but it’s wasted pretty badly.  Far too little attention is given to the build up to the launching of the devices (that actually happens off-screen) that when said device is finally utilized, we almost forget that it was an element in the story.

"Forget about the star--check out THE TOY!"
4) Is it just Fox not wanting to pay out the sequel clause that led to them pretty much discarding a number of the characters from the previous film?  I’m sure, for example, that Rachel Nichols couldn’t have been too much more expensive than Adrienne Palicki, and we would have had the previous film to give us the sense that there is still characterization going on.  Without anyone but Channing Tatum (who’s gone at the end of the first act) on the heroes’ side that we’re familiar with at he beginning of the movie, there’s no way for the viewers to follow the plot.

5) And since we’re on the subject of returning villains--why did they bother bringing back Arnold Vosloo at all, given he literally gets about a minute of screentime by himself, forty seconds of which is silent?

6) The sheer fact of the matter is that the characters, both Joes and Cobras, are ciphers.  Sure, Palicki gets something akin to a speech explaining why she became a Joe, and there’s a big ol’ expository dump that explains what Elodie Yung’s Jinx is doing hanging out with Snake Eyes, but mostly it’s just actors striving to be two-dimensional.  Hell, Flint is such a non-entity that the hinted at romance with Lady Jaye never gets past the hints we see.  It’s as if the movie assumes that we will fill in the blanks because Jaye and Flint were romantic interests in the cartoon.

7) I don’t know which is worse--that the film couldn’t be bothered to be consistent with the first film when it shows the no longer destroyed Eiffel Tower, or that a major country is flat out obliterated and never really mentioned again.
"So that's where all our characterization went!"

8) You know, RZA, I understand you love martial arts and probably enjoyed being the leader of the clan that Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow and Jinx belonged to...but you’re not very good.  And given how much expostory dialogue you’re given, being good is kind of a prerequisite..

9) Even though Ray Stevenson attacks his role as Firefly with gusto, I really have to wonder why he is here instead of, let’s say, Destro or, especially, The Baroness (you can’t tell me that Stevenson in a grungy mask is preferable to Sienna Miller in tight leather).  It’s not like Firefly is as well known a character as the other Cobra villains he replaces.  Plus the script plays outside the box with Firefly, giving him these robotic napalm bombs in the shape of...fireflies!  Get it?  Get it?

10) You know your movie is sucky when Walter Goggins is killed off as the warden of the high tech penitentiary that houses Cobra Commander and Destro (who is written out in a lame and half-hearted way)...and you kind of wish that he a) survived and b) was the real hero of this film.
There's a reason I didn't mention Bruce Willis in this
review...he doesn't deserve it.

Overall...a prime example of fan service over story, characterization or anything that makes a film a film, this is a sad, sad, sad sequel that manages to be bigger and stupider without being anywhere near as good as the original.  Now if they want to spin off Walter Goggins in his own movie....

I saw this at The Atlas, mainly because my Regal Crown Card coupon for free popcorn was about to expire.  Apparently, as the actual mall is expanding (they’ve finally found an anchor store in Century 21), the theater has cut down on its staff.  This resulted in many of the previews and the first two minutes of the film being out of focus due to a misalignment in the 3D projector.  Among the notable trailers was another, story intensive one for Iron Man 3 (THE FREAKIN’ HULKBUSTER ARMOR!), one for Star Trek: Into Darkness that continues to make me think that the Roddenberry version I learned to respect is gone for good; and a thoroughly confusing one for World War Z that pretty much hides that there are zombies in this film at all.

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