April 1, 2013

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra vs. G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Warning: This blog may include spoilers.

So, action fans have spoken and the majority vote from the platoon here on The Action Elite is that     G.I. Joe: Retaliation is a hell of a fun ride! So, rather than write another review stating the obvious, I thought we would put it head-to-head against its predecessor and have a little fun.

Even though Retaliation is meant to be a “sequel” to The Rise of Cobra, the ties are surprisingly small and that begins with the cast. Our only returning actors are Channing Tatum as Duke, Byung-Hun Lee as Storm Shadow and Jonathan Pryce as Zartan and the President.  (And ok, a little love for Ray Park too.) For someone like me who usually does all he can to avoid any Wayans other than Damon, I actually have to admit how surprised I was at Marlon’s performance as Ripcord in the original film. Not only did he not make me cringe every time that he was in a scene, but he actually found a wonderful balance of cool and funny in my opinion. Trust me, I can’t stand him and he really wasn’t that bad. The rest of the cast actually wasn’t either. The pacing of the film allowed just the right amount of time for me to get to know each of them, so that I cared a little when there was a possibility that General Hawk may die. Which apparently he did. Along with every other Joe member, as they aren’t even important enough to mention in Retaliation. Instead, we are introduced to a whole new crop of “hey, look it’s them” characters. Now don’t get me wrong, the cast in the sequel did a very solid job, so it’s not to sell them short. The best way that I can make my point is to say that with the exceptions of Gung-Ho and Snake Eyes as close seconds, Flint has always been my favorite Joe. But, in Retaliation he is so secondary that he is actually tertiary. He is shoved into the background and is never given one moment to stand out and I could care less about him as I watched Retaliation. Channing Tatum returns as Duke, apparently for the soul purpose of being able to tie the two films together into a “franchise”. But, he disappears so abruptly that even after knowing that he was going to die ahead of time I was still pissed at how distracting his demise was. Dwayne Johnson, as always, does a wonderful job of playing a lovable badass as Roadblock, while the true star of Retaliation is not surprisingly Jonathan Pryce. I’m sure he had to be a bit miffed at the fact that he not only stars in, but carries like half of the film and gets paid scale at best, while Bruce Willis on the other hand shows up for two scenes basically so Paramount can put his face on the poster.

A huge difference between the two films is obviously the look and feel of them. While Sommers chose to stay in the realm of the fantastic, with the likes of ray guns and accelerator suits, Chu makes a conscious effort to remain more “real” in his sequel. The scope is even toned down, meaning less cgi and more practical effects. But for me, I have never minded a more fantastic feel to these types of movies. Perhaps this is why I love Burton’s Batman more than Nolan’s. You have to consider the source material. Whether it is a comic book or a children’s cartoon, I have always just been able to accept things of a little more unbelievable when they are based on something such as this.

The other things to compare are very much even. The eye candy is equally appealing in both films, the soundtracks are equally as entertaining and of course both have tons of action to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Now, I know that it seems that after all is said and done that I am doing the impossible and claiming that The Rise of Cobra is actually a superior G.I. Joe film to Retaliation. But, I would never be so blind as to make that ridiculous of an accusation! However… I will simply state that I find both films to be equally as entertaining. They both are riddled with imperfections and at times are indeed over the top, cheesy and laughable. Nevertheless, they are also both fun ways to spend an hour and a half.  Some fans may claim that one works better than the other in regards to the source material, but for me, they simply are live action G.I. Joe movies and both are good enough for me!

About the Author

Brian M
Movies have been a big part of my life since the creation of the VCR. They have always been a way for me to escape. The action genre allowed that feeling more than any other, because the heroes in these films were living in an ordinary world, but were doing extraordinary things. Watching action movies encourages my imagination to explore while I am doing even the most mundane thing and make it exciting. Don't be afraid to use your imagination and keep action alive, no matter how old you get.



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