New releases on Blu-Ray are getting bigger and bolder as the summer goes on, as a long delayed action thrill ride finally gets to open in couch bound cinemas everywhere. “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” is the big bold action romp follow up to the first, that introduces us to some new characters and begins to create that feel from the original cartoon so many years ago.
We rejoin the Joes a short time after the events of the first film and not only are they on high alert with the ever looming threat of Cobra but also as they contend from threats inside their own government looking to bring the Joe team down and tear them apart forever.
As the directorial duties shifted from Stephen Sommers to John M Chu best known from the “Step Up” franchise the obvious directive was to make this sequel as lean and as mean as they possible could. To his credit it is basically a film that is wall to wall action that works in some moments but feels more than a little rushed during others. He reintroduces the audience to this universe in a fairly effective manner and drops us back into the high paced flow of it all. Chu stages some halfway decent action sequences on our way in the story making for a visually fun time at the very least. The narrative speeds its way through as almost an extension of the events in the first film as they work towards a conclusion, not making any real effort to develop some sort of cohesive and standalone story to carry the film on or give closure to some characters that we see in the first film. That will play well for old school fans looking to relive the energy of the cartoon but if you haven’t seen the first one, you may feel a little out of place even though you’ll still be able to follow the story. Ultimately the film was brought home on some very broad and charismatic shoulders that will allow anyone to overlook any flaws in the film.
The bulk of the film survives on the inherent magnetism and charisma of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. As our new leader Roadblock, the franchise has a first rate action star to build around and carries everyone around him with his natural comedic timing and just general bad ass presence when he is blowing stuff up with as big a gun as he can possibly find. The series was never meant to be taken all that seriously, it was a toy and a cartoon first after all and ‘The Rock’ certainly speaks to the male young man in everyone looking to have some dumb fun with big tanks, bigger guns and crazy bad guys. In some sequences that were obvious reshoots we got some extended sequences with both ‘The Rock’ and Channing Tatum and somebody seriously needs to put pen to paper to get them an action comedy script together pronto because it would be stellar. Bruce Willis comes into the series as well as General Joe Colton adding some solid action credentials and comic timing to the events as well. Based on the film it is more than a little obvious that they are positioning Adrienne Palicki as a break out star who comes in as Lady Jaye and she handles her own with the men for the most part and I wouldn’t be shocked to see her in next installment of the franchise. Familiar faces Ray Park and Jonathan Pryce return along with a delicious turn from Ray Stevenson as Firefly and RZA doing his best Gordon Liu impersonation as “Blind Master”, but without ‘The Rock’ and his natural on screen presence the movie would have gone nowhere pretty darn fast.
Picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray were first rate and the special features on this combo pack release include over an hour of behind the scenes featurettes, deleted scenes, a digital copy of the film and a feature length commentary track with director Jon M Chu and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura.
At the end of the day, is “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” a great movie? Not really, but if you are in the mood to switch the brain off with some dumb fun action fun for about two hours then it is certainly good enough.
4 out of 5 stars.
“G.I. Joe: Retaliation” is now available to rent on DVD, Blu-Ray and On Demand from all major providers. You can also find it from retailers like iTunes, HMV and amazon.ca.
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