I went to go see the new G.I. Joe this morning in extravagant, eye-popping IMAX 3D glory, because if you’re gonna do something silly, you might as well go for broke. And to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t expecting much. It’s based on a insanely ridiculous cartoon from the 80s, and the first movie completely underwhelmed. Which I think is tough to do when your subject material is positively bursting with jet powered, laser blasting air tanks and larger-than-life American superheroes. So it’s exciting to announce that the sequel was actually a thrilling, edge of your seat, action blockbuster!*
Just to address the question that’s on everyone’s mind: sadly no, Marlon Wayans did NOT reprise his role as Ripcord in this movie. I know, I was disappointed too. In fact most of the cast is pretty fresh. I think it was probably a good decision given the previous installment’s lackluster reception. They still brought back Channing Tatum though, and he absolutely kills it during his onscreen time with Johnson. I’m not the biggest proponent of Tatum, and while his body IS a wonderland, when I see him trying to riff with other characters it feels like somebody pulled a string from his back just to see what kind of wooden, stilted drivel would come leaking out of his mouth. But either Tatum was in the zone, or Johnson’s natural charisma and swagger was big enough to carry both of them, because I found myself grinning and laughing like an idiot while the two busted each others chops with a genuine sincerity that made them seem like old friends and brothers in arms.
Everyone else works pretty well in a feel-good, one dimensional kind of way too. Couple of new soldiers added to the Joe’s roster including Lady Jaye and Flint, and a couple of new baddies including Ray Parker as Firefly. Of course one of the biggest draws this time is the return of Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes (sans “mouth” this time, thank god). Last time Byung-Hun Lee played Storm Shadow, Cobra’s resident ninja, and he’s back for round two with even more screen time in the new movie. They’ve given his character more depth this time around, and even more screen time. In fact, ninjas on both sides play a major role in some of the most incredible action sequences ever put up on the silver screen, minus a distractingly weird acting job from RZA (and distractingly weird name) as the Blind Master.
I think that what the writers, producers, and directors really did right this time was simplify the story and enhance the action. G.I. Joe should never, under any circumstances, be taken seriously. But the fight scenes were deftly crafted, and literally had me on the edge of my seat. Bruce Willis was a fun addition to the cast, and there’s even a sprinkling of drama for people who need a little break in the action.
It even had a great number of throwbacks for the diehard fanboys, including a more traditional look for the Cobra Commander and SEVERAL recognizable vehicles from the original cartoon. Of course those guys wouldn’t be satisfied unless the movie was painstakingly crafted frame for frame to look exactly like the series no matter how insanely costly/boring/retarded that would be. So is it a G.I. Joe movie? Yes it is. Is it a GOOD G.I. Joe movie? Absolutely. So now you know… and knowings half the battle!
Have you seen the movie? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments below!
~ Jonny Green