I was completely underwhelmed by the first live-action G.I. Joe film.
Everything just seemed wrong. The film was poorly cast (Destro was Scottish, Cobra Commander wore skinny jeans and Duke was a monosyllabic doofus) and the show from the 80s that featured colorful characters shooting lasers that never came close to hitting anyone was inexplicably replaced with a bloody action film where everyone died.
It was G.I. Joe made by people who had never seen a single episode of the cartoon. (People who seemed to think that casting Marlon Waynes in a lead role in an action film was a good idea.)
So when G.I. Joe: Retaliation was announced, I couldn’t have cared less. There was nothing in the first film that gave me a desire to see more of these characters. There was no reason to have hope that they would get it right the second time around.
But then, a funny thing happened.
I saw the first trailer for G.I. Joe: Retaliation and it completely hooked me. From the use of the great “Seven Nation Army” remix to the stunt casting of having The Rock and Bruce Willis in it to the plot revolving around Cobra infiltrating the White House, I was sold. The third time I saw the TV spot for the film, I was in full on Phillip J. Fry “Shut up and take my money” mode.
Then, the film’s release got delayed at the last minute. Paramount got nervous at the 11th hour and decided to reshoot scenes and convert the whole thing into 3D.
That’s never a good sign. A studio has never ordered reshoots because a film is just too good. And outside of the very rare example of something like Back to the Future – which shot a good chunk of footage with Eric Stoltz in the lead, then decided to recast the role with Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly – films are rarely fixed when they start doing massive reshoots. And, unlike Back to the Future, most of the reshoots these days tend to happen when the film is already wrapped and there isn’t much you can do beyond shooting some extra filler scenes or redoing one or two key moments. (So you end up getting added scenes of Dustin Hoffman on the telephone in Little Fockers because its the only way to add footage without doing a complete overhaul and – surprise, surprise – Little Fockers still sucks.)
You would think that a rational person such as myself would hear the news that the film is being shelved for nine months so that they can reshoot it, convert it to 3D and bury it in March when there isn’t much competition and would just let it end there. I didn’t much care for the first film, I didn’t really expect the second film to be any better and now the studio has made it clear that they have no faith in Retaliation either. Clearly, the universe is trying to tell me to find a more productive way to spend my time and money.
And yet, somehow, all of this has simply strengthened my resolve. I now have to see it. I couldn’t imagine missing it. Even after finding out that there are no press screenings in Baltimore for the film (another sure sign that this thing is terrible), I decided fuck it, I’ll spend ten bucks to go see it with the unwashed masses.
At this point, The Rock and Bruce Willis could appear on The Daily Show together to plead with potential audience members not to see this film and I would still go. It could be revealed that there is a bearded, Kangol-hat wearing Cobra soldier named Joel Murphy who sobs uncontrollably and wets himself during his first battle and I’d still be there to watch it unfold.
Paramount, director Jon M. Chu and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick have clearly done everything wrong. They followed up a lackluster first film with what, from all signs, seems like it will be a terrible sequel. They all know they have a bad movie on their hands and are just hoping that with the new footage and the 3D conversion, they made a film that’s passable enough to recoup its money. And as a movie reviewer and columnist who constantly complains about the quality of films today, I should not reward their incompetence by buying a ticket. If I do, I’m part of the problem.
Yet you couldn’t possibly keep me away. And I’m not even sure why at this point. Even I don’t understand this desire to see the film, but it can’t be controlled. My life is incomplete until I throw on a pair of 3D glasses and watch The Rock blow things up.
I know this film is going to be terrible. And a wise 80s cartoon once told me that knowing is half the battle. Of course, the other half is using that knowledge to save yourself $10 and two hours of your life you’ll never get back.
Unfortunately, that’s a battle I’m clearly losing.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at email@example.com