'G.I. Joe: Retaliation' has difficulty getting franchise off the ground

Pitchforks: 3/5

Rated: PG-13

Released: March 29, 2013

“G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” directed by Jon M. Chu, makes a better case for the fan base but still stumbles and missteps in the same pitfalls as the first film, G.I Joe: The Rise of Cobra."

After a very muddled first act where locations changed constantly and guns were going off in the background, the story gets going when the elite Special Forces team known as the G.I. Joes are attacked and left in shambles. Their goals, as gun-toting muscle heads, is to find the culprits and stop their more nefarious motivations.

As far as narratives go, and even when compared to the "Transformers’" narratives, "Retaliation" follows a fairly cohesive story with just enough drive to carry the audience to the next scene until the movie ends. There are still gaping holes in the plot, mind you. One ninja character goes out of his way to find a plot device, gets captured and starts a revenge plot all in the span of 45 minutes.

Cobra Commander, in "Retaliation," is mean and intimidating, and has that reflective faceplate that he is known for from the cartoon. Snake Eyes, the ninja that never speaks with that annoying Power Rangers mouth from "Rise of Cobra," also gets a complete facelift and a new voice actor.

Another problem that still persists, though it is remedied slightly in "Retaliation," is that none of the characters feel all that distinct from one another — personality wise. G.I. Joe is a parody of militaristic conformity. That’s why characters like Shipwreck and Snake Eyes are allowed to even be at least feasible in the context of the G.I. Joe universe.

There’s a feeling of nonchalant acting throughout the film. Bruce Willis and Channing Tatum are criminally underused, while The Rock does not have sufficient acting prowess to carry a film as a lead role. Adrianne Palicki ("Legion," "Red Dawn" 2012), who plays Jaye, gets specific mention as a discount Megan Fox. She gets mentioned because her role, which is relegated to secretary and hot object, applies a sexist twinge that may be referential to the '80s cartoon but only served to put a sour taste in the audience's mouths. D.J. Cotrona ("Dear John," "Venom"), who plays Flint, is also set-design. His character never accomplishes a single goal and actually puts other characters in danger.

"G.I. Joe: Retaliation" was once going to come out last June, but was delayed due to a bloated release schedule of Paramount’s movies and also to slap 3-D onto the film — the 3-D is adequately implemented. Certain shots and sequences are wow-worthy but for the most part, the 3-D only serves to distract the audience as planes are sweeping over dark landscapes and action becomes too fast.

“G.I. Joe: Retaliation” is a better film than “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,” but this is comparable to saying a stomach virus is at least better than pancreatic cancer. “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” is a go-to example of a popcorn movie. A dumb summer movie that at least has more of an effort imbued in it than most films based on '80s cartoons have in their entire trilogies. Retaliation may not have you yelling “Yo Joe!” by the end of it, but it will have at least piqued your interest in the franchise’s history.

Reach the reporter at shfawcett@asu.edu

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