G.I. Joe Retaliation Review


Nearly a year ago I had the opportunity to see a test screening of G.I. Joe: Retaliation. I have been sitting on my feelings about the movie since then. I have let slip a few times here and there on The Gorram Nerd Hour that I hated it. So why did I watch it again? For the same reason I watched the other movies I’ve seen at test screenings again, to see what they changed. It’s always interesting what the studios take away from the comment cards they ask you to fill out at the end of a test screening. On my card I filled it with stuff like “Why was this movie greenlit?” and “What was the point?” Did I change my opinions after the reshoots? Or were the “fixes” they made just as bad?

When I first saw the movie the only positive thing I took away from it was that Snake Eyes was awesome. I love Ray Park and he gave the movie his all despite how bad it was. Sort of like what he did for Star Wars: Episode I. With the reshoots we got a little more Duke, played by Channing Tatum. In the original version Duke was dead as fast as it takes the average person to blink. Of course, by the time the movie started I was praying for toothpicks to keep my eyes open because my eyes just wanted to close to avoid having to take in anymore of that horrible movie. The Duke scenes were designed as a passing of the torch to Road Block, played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Although the movie worked better watching Tatum and Johnson play off each other. The moment Tatum was out of the movie the fun left with it…until Bruce Willis entered the movie. Sadly, this fact has not changed. Sure, they added a couple more scenes with Tatum and Johnson together but teasing the audience with a fun movie for a few more minutes only serves to enrage them more overall. 

Duke still dies…oops, sorry. I meant to warn people of spoilers. Oh well, too late. After his death the movie falls into a boring lull for a good 40 minutes until Willis enters. Cobra Commander, Zartan and Firefly couldn’t bring the fun. Adrianne Padalecki (sic) couldn’t save it by looking hot as Lady Jaye. Nothing worked. Not even the coolness of Jonathan Pryce and Walton Goggins. This still has not changed from the previous version. There were random tweaks done to the movie but none so substantial that it made it worth watching. 

In all fairness I will say this. The few changes that were made to the movie made the film a bit more enjoyable. In fact, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I liked this one almost as much as first. That’s still not a compliment. At least the first had a bit more of an emotional aspect to it. Plus it tried harder. This was just lazy screenwriting. I don’t blame the director or the actors. They did what they could. But when you polish a turd all it does is make the cloth dirty.

A quick note to the writers – Zombieland was fun. Was it a fluke? Or did you just sell out? If Deadpool ever gets made I’ve now become scared about what you’re gonna do with it. Are you going to be the next Ehren Kruger? 

I’m done. I don’t want to talk about this anymore. 

For the original version of the movie I give it 1/2 * out of 5. For the reshot and delayed version I give it 1 and 1/2 *’s out of *****. 

I’m sure Brian and I will be discussing this on the next episode of The Gorram Nerd Hour so make sure you tune in for it.


A Bad Day To Die Hard

I have a huge love for the original Die Hard. The second movie has its moments as well. The McClane character was still intact at that point. Part three felt like a great follow up to the first. Part four was really the beginning of the end but performed well having been edited down to a PG-13 rating.

This time around John McClane is back in all his R rated glory. Or is he? The movie is about John going to Russia to find his estranged son. When he gets there he finds more than he bargained for when he barely steps of the plane and is involved in a car Chase through Russian streets while chasing Tue people chasing his son. The cavalier attitude Bruce Willis shows as McClane amidst all this destruction is seriously disconcerting. This is the man who didn’t even want to let Hans Gruber die at the end of the first movie. Now he’s driving around in a foreign country destroying cars and presumably injuring their drivers in the process.

This is the new jaded John McClane. And that is not an improvement. He used to be someone we rooted for, someone we could relate to, someone we could have a beer with. Now he’s this larger than life Superhero that doesn’t connect with the audience.

I will give writer Skip Woods a small bit of credit when it comes to the script. He tried to bring the feeling of the first film back by trying to add some heart to the story. It didn’t work but at least he tried. Willis didn’t seem like he was trying at all. He seemed morose and bored through most of it.

The story was also very weak, the directing was technically good but there seemed to be a disconnect there…and not in a good David Fincher sort of way. Even the action scenes were bad. At one point I actually said out loud in the theater “You HAVE GOT to be kidding me!”

This movie is my new least favorite Die Hard film. I feel bad for Jai Courtney who hopefully will recover from this and still get hired for movies in the future. He was the only real bright spot in a film that was bogged down with nods to the previous films but done in a such a manner that you wanted to punch Bruce Willis.

One last thing before I finish here – I have a bad feeling 20th Century Fox is going to look at lower returns and think it is due to the R rating and not because it sucked. So I just want to say this to Fox – this movie sucked. It would have suck just as bad, if not worse, if it had been PG-13. I know Bruce Willis wants to make another one. If you are dumb enough to let him at least get John McTiernan back to direct and give him full creative control because he seems to be the only who understands the John McClane character.

This movie should get no stars. Yes I really disliked it that much. But I fear it’s partially due to my feeling about the Dying Hard franchise. So I’m going against my better judgement and giving it 1 1/2 stars.

You’ve Been Back Enough. Now I’ll Be Back – Expendables 2 Reviewed

Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s was a wonderful time for action movies. I loved watching Stallone and Schwarzenegger films. Then Bruce Willis came along with Die Hard. I remembering watching Chuck Norris, Jean Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, and even Cynthia Rothrock and Jeff Speakman movies and loving them. I even used to imagine my own movie starring all of them when I was a kid. I thought how cool it would be to see them all share the screen together. No matter how late the dream came true with The Expendables it was worth the wait. I had a lot of fun with the first film. Needless to say I was very excited about the sequel.

To get such heavy hitters in the action genre together in a movie is always fun. Stallone, Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Willis and Schwarzenegger all together. Count me in. Plus, this time they added Norris and Van Damme and gave Willis and Schwarzenegger expanded roles. The overall product was decent and fun. Van Damme was a good villain. The story was simple but effective. It worked.

There were a few things, however, that bothered me. First of all, how many stupid jokes where someone is practically winking to the camera do we need in this film? Honestly, I don’t need references to Rambling, Die Hard, and Schwarzenegger’s “I’ll Be Back” catchphrase. The only one that worked had to do with Chuck Norris and a cobra. That was hilarious.

The other thing that bothered me was something that shouldn’t. I just couldn’t stop thinking about it though. They were in Russia at a soviet spy training town made to look like America during the Cold War. The Cold War ended before the American post office changed its symbol. They didn’t change to the new sleeker eagle image until the Soviet Union had collapsed yet in this America Town they were hiding in we see a mailbox on the street with the new eagle symbol on it. I couldn’t stop myself from wondering if the Russians ever stopped training spies. Maybe the FSB took over after the collapse and kept going with it. Maybe it was just an oversight on the production designer’s part. I don’t know. All I could do was think about this and wonder if it was a small hint of things to come in Expendables 3.

Okay, I got way off track there. I am supposed to be reviewing the movie not talking about my anal retentive attention to detail. The movie worked in some respects. The great thing about the first film was the personal journey of the characters. Stallone turned his back on his mission to what was right. Lundgren betrayed his friends and later redeemed himself and was later welcomed back into the fold. Mickey Rourke’s character had an awesome monologue midway through. That is what made the first movie good. This one got close a couple times but never found the magic of the first movie. Instead, it settled on making jokes and amping up the violence.

I still enjoyed in the movie very much. It just fell short of the first. Hopefully they can pull it together in the next one. We will see. 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. It would have been less but I don’t want Chuck Norris to come after me.