So by the title it's pretty clear what my verdict on G.I. Joe: Retaliation is. I'd planned to go see the film yesterday, just for the huge kabooms and to find out whether Dwayne Johnson continues to have enjoyably bad taste in what movies he'll sign on for (He sort of does, but more on that later).
Then, when attempting to prove to a friend that no really, Cobra Commander really was played by Joseph Gordon Levitt in the first movie, I found this: www.youtube.com/watch?feature=…
Oh my god. How the fuck did they manage to make Cobra Commander sexy. To me of all people, who very rarely finds anything all that sexy.
So, I had to watch just to see what the hell they were going to do with him. They did things I approve of, but they surprised me further. This movie is actually fairly equal opportunity with the eye candy, even for, you know, normal people. Sure, Lady Jaye wears some eye-catching outfits in the film. Kind of expected that. But there's also a fight scene where Storm Shadow is wet and gratuitously shirtless. His actor, Byung-hun Lee, has magnificent abs. Like so: cdn.hisstank.com/gi-joe-news/a… . So for you people who don't find men in masks and leather to be attractive, go see that. That was pleasing.
But what was surprisingly pleasing for me was the character that made me convinced that this film secretly had a crush on Hideo Kojima. Firefly turns out to be a combination of both the Fury and the Pain, in that not only does he set ridiculous amounts of things on fire, but he also uses EXPLOSIVE ROBOT BEES. I don't care if they're really robot fireflies, to me, in that immediate first instant of utter incoherent glee, they were EXPLOSIVE ROBOT BEES. And Firefly himself is an enjoyable crazy bastard throughout the film, of a kind I've found an increasing fondness for. He gets to punch the president. He has a motorcycle made of explosions. He leers at Cobra Commander and I am totally not kidding here, I have photographic evidence: cdn.tfw2005.com/transformers-n… He also has some moments that made me grin like the sadistic maniac I can be on occasion. One of his fight scenes with Roadblock kind of turned unexpectedly delicious for anyone with a D/s bent to them.
Also notable were some times when the film didn't go with the obvious or expected choices. There wasn't a designated comic relief character, although some of the screwballs on both sides of the conflict get funny moments. Jinx's ninja catsuit doesn't draw attention to cleavage. There are also background female ninjas on Cobra's side, who wear precisely the same uniforms as their male counterparts and are not separated out from them in any way. And, something I was ridiculously happy to not see: A romance plot. There's no goddamn Hollywood romance plot whatsoever. I have a special hatred for those unnatural things that I can't entirely explain, but I think it likely has to do with taking a potentially strong, interesting and identifiable female character and turning her into a passive/submissive love interest, something that breaks any connection I might have with the few women on screen.
And, amazingly, they didn't make Channing Tatum into a block of wood like usual. I still didn't actually give a shit about him, but he at least seemed like a human this time, and a potentially likable one. But honestly, I wasn't there for the good guys, apart from Ray Park as Snake Eyes and Elodie Yung as Jinx.
Lastly under what I found notably enjoyable in the film: The Evil Plan. Within the film's logic, it had a high probability of success. It made decent sense, as far as villain plans go. Cobra Commander had precisely zero villainous breakdown when things inevitably go tits up. Really, the only immediate flaws were a few small security patches which would have hilariously screwed over the Joes, but then the film would have surpassed Empire Strikes Back in terms of failure endings for the heroes. I'm not sure on the physics of what we see happen, but they were taking the basis of it from a real hypothetical that has been considered as an option in the past.
Now on to the downsides, and there were a few. The film isn't really the most coherent I've seen. Flow isn't great, at least in part due to having everyone spread out and doing unconnected actions for a fair portion of the film. They meet up in the end, but when you keep bouncing around it breaks up the pace. The fight scenes were good--No reliance on shakycam, because they have actual goddamn martial artists running about--although at some points during hand to hand the camera would get in a little too close to really keep a good feel of where everyone was and where they were going. A bunch of the lines were definite trailer fodder that didn't always make the best sense in context. And it might be just me, but I sometimes just had trouble understanding the words coming out of people's mouths, period. Nothing that made me lose track of what was going on (the film really isn't clever enough by any means to require you to be paying close attention), but it still led to moments of confusion. Again, that may just be me, I sometimes have trouble picking up disconnected sentences if there's distractions.
All in all, I can't honestly call it a good film, but it is definitely one I would unreservedly label as thoroughly enjoyable. It's worth watching in theaters.
And really I just needed to squee about the villains somewhere. A review is my excuse.