The abridged trailer for G.I. Joe: Retaliation is out. Tell us what you think!
Pushed back a full nine months from its initial June 2012 release date, G.I. Joe: Retaliation needed a strong promotional campaign to regain any sort of momentum. After all, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who came out of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009) eager for a follow-up. What’s more, if the box office numbers for A Good Day to Die Hard (2013) serve as any indication, the recent wave of eighties nostalgia may have run its course, owing presumably to twenty-something moviegoers having finally figured out that the big, over-the-top properties their elder siblings keep rambling about are kind of lame.
Even hardcore fans of the franchise have proven somewhat less than enthused about G.I. Joe Retaliation, focusing the brunt of their nerd rage on the choice of Jon M. Chu as director. For what it’s worth, the creative mind behind Step Up 3D (2010) strikes me as the perfect candidate to helm a medium-sized production that mixes elaborate fight choreography with showy special effects. Anyone willing to look past the homophobic stereotypes associated with dance movies can see the man knows how to pace and frame a kinetic set piece, escalating its spectacle with both grace and dynamism.
In short, the adverts for G.I. Joe: Retaliation had to convince us of three crucial things. One: that the screenplay by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick would show more earnest reverence to the source material than Stephen Sommers’ tongue-in-cheek G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Two: that the stakes could engage audience members who don’t particularly care about four-inch dolls with tiny plastic artillery that keeps getting lost in the basement carpet. Three: that director Jon M. Chu could deliver kick-ass action sequences, evoking both the bright, larger-than-life flights of fancy featured in the cartoon series and the gritty action drama we all thought we were watching.
Lo and behold: the new wave of promotional spots does exactly that. I particularly like the four minutes of continuous whoopass that preceded 3-D showings of Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013). Only a third of the footage was released online, but you get the gist: Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and Storm Shadow (Lee Byung Hung) resume their rivalry with death-defying stunts, uninterrupted by Marlon Wayan’s tired slapstick or Rachel Nichols’ phoned-in performance, and then things just go nuts.
One might ask why Snake Eyes bothers to shoot each shuriken individually when he could, you know, fire at his enemy, but you’ll notice that he and his mysterious partner aim to capture Storm Shadow alive, so we may be looking at a reprise of one of the most acclaimed storylines from Larry Hama’s run on the comic book series. If you’re not familiar with the latter, I imagine the quick shots of entire cities blowing up and soldiers plowing through the four corners of the world ought to pique your curiosity. The whole thing’s got an old-school James Bond feel to it, doesn’t it? I’m referring, of course, to the Roger Moore years.
At any rate, there’s no denying Chu can film an effective fight sequence, keeping the camera far enough that we can always tell what’s going on and letting every shot breathe in between cuts so as to let us feel its impact. As I mentioned, fans have been very critical of the musicals director, accusing him of somehow lacking the machismo necessary to handle a franchise about soldiers dressed like the Village People. I, for one, am only interested in G.I. Joe: Retaliation because of his involvement. After seeing the latest trailers, I feel vindicated.