(a review of G. I. Joe: Retaliation (2013))
(spoilers for G.I. Joe: Retaliation, G.I. Joe The Rise of Cobra (2009), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016))
Soft reboots are the worst idea ever. The Rise of Cobra messed around a good bit with the feel of the classic G.I. Joe cartoons and comics, traded hints of fantasy for hints of scifi, but all around was fun and I couldn’t hate it, the near reunion of the Mummy series that it was. So they took that, and removed Scarlett, Heavy Duty, Hawk, Destro, Sgt. Stone, Breaker, and Ripcord, gave us back Storm Shadow unbelievably just to redeem him for some reason, and killed Channing Tatum. Oh and Gordon-Levitt was recast, which is always a terrible idea.
Truthfully the character of Cobra Commander did not suffer much with the change to Luke Bracey. He still holds a certain amount of pizzazz, his mustache-twirling plan being dastardly enough this episode. But killing off Duke to replace him with Flint? Are you kidding me? That’s discount Duke! Half the charm, thrice the forgettableness!
Ray Stevenson was a good Firefly, and Dwayne Johnson a good Roadblock, although he needed more time with a fucking huge gun for my tastes. Mostly I just disliked the idea that there were good set pieces here, some good actors and brief hints of good story, but it was all mixed up by too many changes to the established lore. You can’t just do that. You can’t just upset a dozen characters and half a dozen storylines, ask us to forget all that, and drop us in like this to a new world peopled by some from the old. Oh look, there’s Jonathan Pryce and Channing Tatum, so it’s a sequel, but where is EVERYBODY ELSE?
If I was a little bit older and remembered a little bit more of the TV show I probably would have been joining in with everyone else who was angry at the significant change (complete revision) to the Baroness’ backstory in the first film, but instead I’m just angry now because the change to Storm Shadow’s in this “sequel” was so dumb and unnecessary. And I was bored because I’m actually, really, truly, getting tired of watching a major (probably non-U.S.) city get blown the fuck up. When it’s significant, sure, but when I feel like they have a major city dartboard in the writing room and there’s zero talk about the horror that is 8.8 million people being slaughtered, I don’t feel like I’m being coerced into caring, and I should be. Because it’s a movie and that’s terrible and I’m human and I should be made to care with music and crying and blood. For the love of fuck show me a woman running, carrying her newborn, and maybe a puppy too, as the explosion hits and the ground heaves up only to cut to some important world politician sitting down suddenly because he’s going to pass out because NINE MILLION PEOPLE JUST DIED!
Retaliation also suffered the same as TMNT: Out of the Shadows: it had a very middle child feel. Without a sequel, Cobra Commander will have gotten away for good. Plans are in the works for a third, a noted regret has been passed that Duke was killed so maybe he’ll get revived somehow, probably in some nonsense way, but there’s also talk of an Avengers-esque shared universe with M.A.S.K., I think Micro Machines, and some other Hasbro properties. However, in light of the existence of The Avengers, and now The Justice League, who’s going to care? So probably none of those things will happen.