I’m a child of the 80′s.   Every day I stood in front of my television, slack jawed while I watched each new episode of G.I.-Joe – A Real American Hero.  Just thinking about it now I can hum the iconic theme song.   After the travesty of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies I almost dreaded Hollywood’s “take” of my favorite cartoon.   G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra wasn’t as bad as many people made it out to be.  Stephen Sommers has no idea how to use convincing CGI in his movies.   Every time he uses it, the scene looks like a bad cut scene from a video game.   The action was fun, but the characters, the plot and even the design of every single character in the movie was a cliché hackneyed version of the animated series.    In one single stroke, he ruined Cobra Commander, Duke and Baroness with a very bad storyline that didn’t even need to be added in the first place.   Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow were the best characters in the first one and they hardly ever talked.

Cut to a few years later and a bold new “reboot” sequel.   The film was written by Zombieland writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick.  With the horrible Stephen Sommers gone, the studio picked one of the strangest directorial choices I could ever think of.   They picked Jon Chu, the director of two Step Up movies and a Justin Beiber concert movie.    I dreaded the news that the movie was going to be delayed for over a year.    So when I got a chance to see the movie at a screening, I had no hope of it being any good.   To my surprise, I was astonished by how bad ass, dark, hilarious, and fun thrill ride this movie turned out to be.   I was totally shell shocked.   Gone are the horrible designs for Cobra Commander and Snake Eyes.   Gone are the horrible cheesiness of the original Cobra force.   Cobra in this movie is fierce.   This is the Cobra from the animated show times ten.   I’m going to get a bit spoilerific in the rest of the review so in case you don’t want to know what happens to certain characters in the movie I suggest you scroll down to the end of the review.

*

*

*

I warned you.   Don’t blame me.

*

*

*

Unlike the first movie, Cobra finally feels like a deadly force.   Not only do they kill off almost every member of the G.I. JOE’s in the first 10 minutes of the movie, but they take over the White House and destroy England while making the world leaders their bitch.   They literally kill countless millions.   Like many people online, I thought they delayed the movie because they wanted to change the plot of Channing Tatum’s Duke from dying.   Throughout the whole movie I kept thinking that maybe they’ll do some surprise plot twist where he turns up alive, but no.  Dead as a door nail.  It’s a shame too, because his character is way more likable and charming this time around than in the last movie.   His chemistry with the Rock’s Roadblock is some of the best aspects of the movie to me.   Speaking of the Rock…  He should now be known as the “Franchise Saver.”   You could add him into any failing series and he would instantly turn the movie into a fun, watchable ride.   Mr. Rock totally owns this movie and oozes machismo charm.    He almost steals the movie from Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow…almost.

*

*

*

GI-Joe-Retaliation

Now that the major spoilers are over, lets talk about the coolest aspect of the movie.  The Ninjas!!!!   In a ode to the classic “Silent Interlude” G.I. JOE comic, Snake Eyes, Jinx, Storm Shadow and a army of Red Ninjas battle on top of a snowy mountain.   In IMAX 3D, this sequence has got to be the most jaw dropping action sequence I’ve seen in years.   With that scene alone, director Jon Chu has elevated himself into one of the best new directors to watch.  The studio better keep him on for the next one.

Now I know I seem to be gushing about how great the movie is, but there are still a lot of problems with this movie.   I didn’t like the dangling plots that were never resolved from the original movie.   What happened to the other Joes from the other movie?   Bruce Willis has pretty much an extended cameo and seemed to be sleepwalking through yet another role.   The actor playing  Flint has got the be the most wooden action hero I’ve ever seen.   I was praying for him to get blown up through the whole movie.    I also wished they introduced more classic villains from the Cobra team.  Firefly was a great new addition, but that was the only new addition.   Who wants to see endless Cobra no-name cannon fodder?

This is the G.I. JOE movie we should have gotten the first time around.  It’s too bad the shadow of the first one still lingers.   This movie is tons better than the last one.   There’s still some work to make it a better G.I. JOE franchise, but if you continue to keep this same creators behind this one, I think we might have something really special for a 3rd installment.   A must see for any action or G.I. JOE fan that was let down by the original movie.

In closing I’ll give the movie a solid A-.  

Best parts- The comedic bits were great.  The Rock kicked ass and Cobra finally meant business.  Every scene with Snake Eyes is worth admission alone.

Bad Parts- Lingering plot lines from the original that were never addressed.   The actor that played Flint was horrible and it’s a crime against mankind to blur a G-string butt shot of Adrianne Palicki.   Plus, I didn’t think I’d say this, but I wanted more Tatum.  He was great in the scenes he was in.