Joe A Day GI Joe: Retaliation Non-Spoiler Review
On Tuesday, I was invited by a local theater marketing company to set up a display of some of my GI Joe collection at an early screening of GI Joe: Retaliation. It was quite an exciting event, being able to bring along a selection of Joe stuff of many eras, in keeping with the theme of the blog. I actually found it pretty difficult to decide what to bring. Of course, having the Dino Hunters dinosaur (now nicknamed Murray thanks to @twitziller and @FlagPoints) at the table was a no-brainer.
The experience was a bit surreal, having never been involved with anything like this before. As the crowd filed in, quite a few people came up to check out the display and chat. I was encouraged by the number of dads and kids that came up, and by the enthusiasm of the kids. All of them recognized Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, which at least speaks to the endurance of the brand’s ninja icons. I also met a few local folks who follow the blog, and it was very cool to talk to some of the readers in the real world.
Just before the film started, I was introduced by the screening’s host, and asked to say a few words off the cuff. The best I could think of in the moment was to elicit a “Yo Joe!” from the crowd. That was a pretty awesome feeling, I must admit.
Oh yeah, there was a film playing too. Retaliation was, without getting into spoilers, a much better (and more fun) film than its predecessor. Though some fans lamented the fact that this story would feature a smaller cast of Joes, I found that less was more. The same can be said for the action. While the film featured its fair share of fight scenes, there were really just two extended set pieces, both of which were well executed. Though the mountain battle and the climax featured the usual CGI elements, many other action scenes appeared to be primarily practical effects and stunts. There’s something more visceral about real explosions and fights on the screen, and this film delivered on both counts.
Comic fans will enjoy the nods to the changing relationship of Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, and the integration of the original GI Joe himself, played by a low-key Bruce Willis, was well done. I was a little worried that his presence would undermine the main cast, but that was not the case. He played an integral part in the story, but didn’t take away screen time from the plot or the core Joe team. Zartan was enjoyably creepy, Cobra Commander was more suitably maniacal, and Firefly was a great new addition to the villainous ranks.
The film has its share of ridiculous plot devices (like many a Sunbow episode), and a fairly horrendous performance from the Rza as the Blind Master that took me right out of the film, but these are pretty minor sour notes in a film that, for the most part, played a tune I enjoyed.
Finally, a note from Mrs. Joe A Day: guys, don’t be afraid to bring your ladies to see the movie, as my wife and her friend enjoyed it as well, especially since there was plenty of eye candy for them on screen.