G.I. Joe: Retaliation [Blu-Ray] Jon M. Chu

G.I. Joe: Retaliation [Blu-Ray] Jon M. Chu
3
For a military merchandising tool, the latest G.I. Joe movie is surprisingly not terrible; it's just bad — an off-kilter, mildly amusing sort of bad that breezes past semi-interesting throwaway ideas in search of the next big action set piece or hammy joke. Within the derivative story (an elite force screwed by government moles forced to un-besmirch their good name was also the basic plot of The A-Team) are a few neat concepts, including a high tech prison buried so deep beneath the Earth's surface it's in international territory (just what the suggestively sadistic prison warden played by Walton Goggins means by "jurisdictional freedom" we are not privy to in this PG-13 world) and Lady Jaye's use of conversational filler words as a sort of linguistic fingerprint to identify an impostor in the White House (not a spoiler alert if you've seen the first movie — it's Zartan). Speaking of, the Max Klinger of Cobra is played by Jonathan Pryce this time around; it's not awkward re-casting, as Arnold Vosloo's face does make a brief appearance. Zartan is imbedded as a doppelganger President, thanks to body-restructuring nanites. Pryce relishes the opportunity to slobber on the scenery, handily stealing the show and giving this particular world domination plot an executor with some showmanship and pizzazz. Cobra Commander is pretty much the Queen of England in this situation: nothing more than a figurehead who looks badass in black leather (I'm assuming). Our Real American Heroes don't fare as well as the villains in the self-aware comedy department. Dwayne Johnson has more than enough natural comedic timing to sell a few of the limp zingers, but whatever made it to the screen from Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick's script is tepid at best. Here's something I never thought I'd say about a movie: it would have benefited from more Channing Tatum. His generically handsome equivalent, DJ Cotrona, as Flint (is he a sharp shooter? I've seen the movie twice and still can't recall), is about as natural on screen as a sock puppet with a six-pack. At least the ninjas — Snake Eyes (Ray Park), Storm Shadow (Korean superstar, Lee Byung-hun) and Jinx (Elodie Yung) — barely have anything to say. Unfortunately the same silence isn't applied to Blind Master. Whoever decided to put RZA in the movie as a wise ninja guru needs a stern reality check — the Wu-Tang kingpin is an utter embarrassment to the craft of acting, even in a movie based on a line of dolls for boys. Getting back to what doesn't suck about the film, the spectacular wuaxia-inspired cliff side ninja battle is broken down in "The Monastery," one of eight production features gathered under the special feature heading "G.I. Joe Declassified" and set to an annoying instrumental dubstep remix of "Seven Nation Army." A highlight of the film, the martial arts choreography is a heck of a lot more accomplished than the jerkily edited gunplay and inelegant fisticuffs the rest of the combatants engage in. Other special features include pre-visualization clips, footage of the cast training with a retired Navy Seal, Park and Yung rehearsing for their dojo battle, building the oriental garden set and a bunch of behind-the-scenes shots of the various stunts, vehicles and weaponry employed to stimulate an excitement for combat in America's youngsters. Oh, and Bruce Willis shows up to talk about the honour of being selected as the Joe. Amid the cast and crew interviews, including a commentary with director Jon M. Chu and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, nobody mentions anything about the plot's careful display of allegiance with South Korea and jabs at the totalitarian North. I'm sure it's safer to stick to chatter about how cool blowing stuff up is than discussing important questions, like if quoting Patton or Jay-Z is more appropriate to the tone of the picture. Just three deleted scenes are included: one superfluous; one unnecessary but fun; and the last a downright laughable snippet of patriotic posturing. "Oorah" yourself, soldier. (Paramount)