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Stay at home; 'G.I. Joe: Retaliation' not worth the trip

Apr. 05, 2013 @ 01:00 PM

I have to admit, in my youth, I was a huge G.I. Joe fan.

But, back in MY day, he was 11 inches tall and you could change his clothing, just like Barbie. In fact, the term "action figure" was invented so that the dads of the 1960s (think Don Draper) wouldn't have to admit that their sons were playing with dolls.

My G.I. Joes fought Nazis and Chinese Communists, not super villains. They trained as Navy frogmen, the term SEALS was still far off on the horizon. In was a time when Sgt. Nick Fury was a crusty old four-striper and never even dreamed of being an Agent for S.H.E.I.L.D.

My G.I. Joe had about as much in common with today's Superhero soldier as Roy Rogers and John Wayne have in common with Django and the High Plains Drifter.

That being said, I still liked the new star-studded movie "G.I. Joe: Retaliation." And, when it comes to the star, I think that STUD is the operative word.

The main guy, Dwayne Johnson ("Snitch," "The Scorpion King," "Gridiron Gang") needs no introduction, after spending many years in professional wrestling as "The Rock." He is still a massive mountain of a man, and his charming smile is welcome in all company, both male and female.

Channing Tatum ("Dear John," "Magic Mike," "21 Jump Street") shows up briefly as Duke, the head of the team, and rumor has it that the movie was delayed so they could add more scenes with him in it, after his breakthrough performances over the last year.

Relative unknown D.J. Cotrona ("Detroit 1-8-7," "Windfall," "Skin") is Flint, a man that would melt female hearts in any movie that he starred in, alone, but here, he seems to be the "oh, that other guy," and most of this is because his character is nowhere near as developed as his looks are.

Old School butt-kicker Bruce Willis ("Die Hard" movies, "Red," "Moonlighting") does some cameo work, plus a little overtime as Gen. Joe Colton, and even this short, old guy can stand tall with the best of these guys.

Not to be outdone, on the female side, we have Adrianne Palicki ("Legion," "Friday Night Lights," "South Beach") as Jaye. Not quite on the Yancy Butler/Michelle Rodriquez level, but she is far above simple eye candy. She plays well with others and has a "one of the guys" demeanor that meshes well in a military setting.

She would definitely make a better Bond Girl than most of the ones in the last few movies.

The plot is a simple A-to-B-to-C style write up, with bad guys taking over the world with satellites that wipe out entire countries, and ominous ancient castle set into the sides of secluded mountain ranges.

We have top secret prisons and ninja minions on both sides of the aisle. The modern day G.I. Joe is color coded, so we know who is who in a fight, as opposed to my childhood with all green soldiers, half of which donned nail polish red coatings to designate the enemy.

The fight scenes in "G.I. Joe" are pretty darn good, even if the 3-D glasses didn't really enhance them that much. The blur of hand-to-hand combat was much more effective here than the slow motion versions seen in other films, although there was a bit of slo-mo in this one, too.

A lot of explosions, a little sexual innuendo and quite a bit of humor made for an interesting action flick. As expected, neither Johnson nor Willis took things too seriously (unlike a Stallone and a Norris would), and the movie was all the better for it.

It moved along at a great pace and with only a few exceptions, I was able to keep track of who everyone was, even though I was unfamiliar with most of the various superheroes and super villains, by name.

This is a safe movie, nothing exceptional, but nothing to scare anyone away, either. It was fortunate to be slotted into a week where there was very little competition, even though you would think the Spring Break season would be a good time to put some of your best stuff forward.

Even though it's a pretty good movie, unless you absolutely HAVE to satisfy your movie addiction (like me), you might want to see what's coming out this week, before choosing this one...

Billy Summers is a freelance photographer who also reviews films for the Putnam Herald. He can be reached at summers855@yahoo.com.