G.I. Joe Retaliation is the box office champ raking in an estimated $51.7 million, domestically and $132 million Internationally, since its release. Unfortunately, it fell short of the first movie's opening weekend box office take of $54.7 million but that's understandable. Reason being is due to G.I. Joe Rise of Cobra failing the fan base in so many ways that it probably scared off many of them from going to see it at all. Eyeball removal was probably considered by many fans after the first debacle.
Despite the lack of critical acclaim for Retaliation, it succeeds in many areas where the first flick failed miserably. And in all honesty, it is a much better Joe movie than sites like Rotten Tomatoes or MetaCritic are saying with their respective ranking systems.
Coming from one of those hardcore Joe fans—this writer had plenty of action figure battles in the mid-80s to the point where missiles and weapons would still be found throughout the house months later—G.I. Joe Retaliation is officially the first Joe movie and the first film can now be completely removed from memory.
However, Retaliation was not a perfect movie and had it's problems, albeit fewer than Rise of Cobra. Before we look at five issues with Retaliation, here's your SPOILER ALERT in case you haven't seen it yet.
Cobra Commander's Voice
Retaliation nailed Cobra Commander's look with the classic silver face but failed with his voice. Sadly, Hasbro and Paramount could not pull a Transformers-like move—like they did with Peter Cullen reprising Optimus Prime's voice—since Cobra Commander voice actor Chris Latta passed away in 1994.
No "Yo Joe!"
G.I. Joe's battle cry is deeply embedded into pop culture and not to use another Transformers reference but it's like their transforming sound or Optimus saying, "Autobots, transform and roll out!" Yet, just as we've not heard Optimus say those words on the big screen, Retaliation didn't give its fan base a "Yo Joe!" on the big screen either.
All any fan needed was just one "Yo Joe!" instead of the multiple Marine calls (no offense to the Marines out there reading this). That's all... please say it once. Maybe it'll happen in the next Joe movie.
H.I.S.S. Tanks and an A.W.E. Striker Show Up but Where's the "Troubble Bubble" Love?
Creating big screen versions of actual vehicles in the toy line was a great move visually but one of the most iconic Cobra vehicles is still M.I.A. from the silver screen. Of course we're talking about Cobra's Flight Pod, a.k.a Troubble Bubble.
3D + Handheld Camera Shots = Unwatchable Scenes
So Retaliation was delayed about eight months in order to capitalize on the increased dollar amounts charged for 3D movies, so Paramount converted the film into 3D. The problem with this is that there is a good amount of handheld camera shots during actions sequences and if you don't use a tripod there is a shakiness to those shots. This is done to create a sense of being right in the middle of the action.
Too bad when you slap a 3D conversion onto handheld camera shots you get more motion blur than clear images. In other words, it was tough to see some of the action during those types of scenes, especially if there was close-up shots of actors during those action scenes.
Recommendation... don't bother seeing this movie in 3D.
Never Ever, Ever Kill Off Main Heroes and Villains
This is by far the biggest SPOILER in this review because Retaliation betrayed a rule when making movie franchises by killing off several main characters. Duke, Zartan and Firefly all meet their respective end in the sequel. Now you can't use them again in future movies. Dumb.
Also, killing off Zartan is stupid since he is one of the most versatile characters in the Joe universe because he can disguise himself as virtually anyone. Not to mention who's gonna lead the Dreadnoks if they make an appearance in a future movie? More dumb.
Overall, the movie is solid, and other hardcore Joe fans will probably find even more issues than the five listed here. But when you compare it to Rise of Cobra you can't really make a worse movie. G.I. Joe Retaliation is still worth seeing for both the hardcore and casual G.I. Joe fans and puts the franchise back on track for another one in the near future now that its confirmed another movie will go into development.