Movie Review: G.I. JOE: Retaliation (2013)

".....(head nod)....."
“…..(head nod)…..”

No, Joe……Just….just no.

They did it to me again.  I swore after sitting through the first GI Joe, which was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, they’d never get me into the second film.  Then they went and showed that ninja fight on the cliffside and my inner 8-year old (who makes most of my decisions) decided I had to go.

Let’s start with what was good because it’s not going to take very long.  Unlike last time, everyone looks true to their characters.  There’s no lips on Snake Eyes’ mask.  Cobra Commander does not look like a corpse in a diving helmet.  Storm Shadow looks great.  Firefly looks great.  The only design and casting complaints I have are Zartan (so cool in the comics and series and yet so so so not here) and RZA some how heading the Arishnikage Ninja Clan.  Whatever, we got Jinx and she was awesome too.  In fact, I have no complaints about the F/X, costumes or cast (aside from effing Zartan).

None of those things earned this movie it’s 3.5 points (which is generous).  The entirety of that is for the flat out 10 that is the sequence in the mountains where Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes have a fantastic duel that segues into a mind-bending cliffside chase/fight with Cobra ninjas.  It is AWESOME!  I’m sure when it’s out on blu ray, you can find it on You Tube.  Do that.  Because the rest of the movie is a 0.0.

The problem is simple and two-fold.  John Chu is a horrible director and they spent absolutely no time on scripting a good film.  The dialogue is just painful and awkward.  The camera bounces so much all over the place that most of the time you don’t have any idea what’s going on and the first 25 minutes of the movie are spent trying to explain away or attempt to fix what the last movie screwed up.

This should have been a total reboot.  Forget the last film.  Start over.  I’m not expecting an Oscar winning movie, but there’s a reason this franchise and these characters are still stuck firmly in the mind of a generation.  They’re awesome.  Snake Eyes is in the KT dictionary next to the definition of “motherfreaking awesome”.  It’s a franchise that’s lasted 30 years now through several animated series, hundreds of comic books and three godawful movies.  It deserves the kind of treatment that millions of kids gave it in their imaginations when it first came out.  We’ve never let it go.  Next time, get someone with that passion and spend a couple million on the script instead of an explosion and make a movie worth making.
3.5/10.0

Harry Potter Actor Richard Griffith Passes Away

*Just in off of Reuters.  Sad news.  Fare thee well, Uncle Vernon.

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British actor Richard Griffiths has died at the age of 65 after complications following heart surgery, his agent said today.

Griffiths was best known for his portrayal of Vernon Dursley in the “Harry Potter” films and his credits included Withnail and I, Pie in the Sky, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and Gandhi. He received the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play, the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Featured Actor and a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play, all for his role in Alan Bennett’s play “The History Boys.”

Griffiths’ agent, Simon Beresford, described him as “a remarkable man and one of our greatest and best-loved actors.” He said Griffiths died in hospital on Thursday.

The actor was born in Thornaby-on-Tees in Yorkshire, northern England, the son of a steelworker. Both his parents were deaf and he learned sign language to communicate with them.  After studying drama in Manchester, he worked in radio and on theatre, building a reputation as a Shakespearean clown.

Griffiths is survived by his wife Heather.

200 People Running in Movies (Supercut)

It’s been awhile since we had a Supercut montage.  This one features 200 running characters in movies beginning with America’s favorite sub-100 IQ sprinter, Forrest Gump. Sprint toward the weekend with this montage created by the talented Clara Darko.

Killing Time – March 28, 2013

The ongoing war with KT archnemesis, Lista de Email, continues!  The score stands 7 – nil, LDE.  When will you bow to my superior spam blocking techniques?  I do realize, yes, that I’m taunting a bot and that by making its programmers mad, I may have in some way provoked the 64 spam messages that accumulated in the filter overnight.  But that’s logical thinking which has no place here!  We deal in dreams and I want an archfoe.  The spam back-up may also be due to the increased site traffic.  We passed 50 followers, 1800 views and 70 countries with hits this week which is just tremendously humbling and exciting.  I’ve been getting more comments on posts and that is really awesome.  I’d love more dialogue with the readers so please always feel free to comment in a non-trollish manner.  I hope all have a wonderful Easter weekend and thank you again for reading KT.

Books: Bioshock: Rapture by John Shirley
Shift Omnibus by Hugh Howley

Blu Ray: Warrior (Extras)
Game of Thrones Season Two (Extras)
Intouchables (Redbox)

TV/HULU:  The Amazing Race Season Twenty-Two
Community Season Four
Family Guy Season Eleven
The Colbert Report

Music:  For some reason passing my understanding, I listened to the score to A Beautiful Mind all week long.

Video Game
: Bioshock 2: Minverva’s Den DLC (finished)
The Walking Dead Episode 5 (finished)
Tomb Raider Legend
Assassin’s Creed III (frustratingly stuck in Concord)
Darksiders II
Far Cry 3
* XBOX Live, gamertag: sleeplessdave; feel free to friend me!

Comics:   Fables: Werewolves in the Heartland by Bill Willingham
The Winter Soldier Vol. 4: Widow Hunt by Ed Brubaker
Hawkeye Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction (READ THIS)
GI JOE IDW Collection Vol. 1 by Larry Hama & Chuck Dixon

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug 10 Things We Know

Total Film’s Matt Matyum was on-hand (online really) for the sneak peek at The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (that’s getting tiring to type, may have to set up a macro) with director Peter Jackson March 24th.  He gives an excellent and comprehensive rundown of 10 things we know coming out of the talk as well as his analysis.  DOS is my most-anticipated movie of the year and I cannot wait for a return trip to Middle-Earth.

Part 2 picks up after the events of AUJ, as Bilbo Baggins and the company of Dwarves continue on their journey after escaping the goblins in the Misty Mountains.

Key to the sequel (as the title attests) will be dragon Smaug, played by Benedict Cumberbatch in a performance-capture suit. Seen in snatched glimpses during the first film’s prologue, his eyeball was revealed in close-up in the final shot.

The gold-hoarding fire-breather isn’t the only new character likely to make an entrance in Part 2, with Woodland Elf Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) and shapeshifting bear-man Beorn (Mikael Persbrandt) set to make their debuts.

We caught Jackson’s specially screened footage from Part 2, and here are the 10 essential things we learned from it…

1. Smaug is being kept under wraps… for now
Jackson is still keeping the second film’s MVP under wraps. In the early stages of the video event, when Jackson passed through the pre-viz department, a designer offered an on-screen glimpse of Smaug. Don’t get too excited though – eagle-eyed viewers will have spotted that it was an extra from How To Train Your Dragon, rather than an authentic glimpse at Desolation‘s big bad.

Likewise for the glimpse another designer gave us of a “T-Rex with wings”. Jackson sent him back to the drawing board…

2. Peter Jackson cutting room is a film-geek haven
En route to the Cutting Room (where the majority of the event took place), Jackson took us down a corridor lined with James Bond posters. Six-sheet posters to be precise. Though, there’s still some wall space to fill…

On the wall of the edit suite was a Jason And The Argonauts poster (perhaps an inspiration for the grand-scale fantasy adventure).

And for sampling edits as they go, there’s a 103-inch widescreen TV. The mission to get one of those behemoths for the office begins now…

3. Martin Freeman gives something new every take
To give an idea of what actually goes on in the edit suite, Jackson laid on various takes of a sequence in which Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans) takes Bilbo and the Dwarves on a boat ride to Laketown.

You’d be surprised how many inflections could be brought to the line, “You never venture east!”, but Freeman seems to have an endless supply of them.

The scene was far from finished, with lurid green-screen standing in for fully rendered backdrops, but on board the vessel itself, you could glimpse a neat bundle of barrels. We imagine they’ll come in useful.

4. Bard the Bowman will be badass
According to Jackson, Bard the Bowman will be “one of the really cool things in the second movie”. With his role set to be notably expanded from the text, Evans looks to further cement his rep as one of Britain’s most in-demand exports (he’s playing the villain in 2013’s Fast & Furious 6).

Bard will be an enigmatic, Robin Hood-esque figure, and should rival Middle-earth’s finest when it comes to arrow-skills.

As well as the aforementioned boat sequence, there were a couple of behind-the-scenes shots of Bard darting around Laketown, and brooding mysteriously.

5. Evangeline Lilly’s Tauriel will also be badass
Lilly’s Woodland Elf has been largely shrouded in secrecy so far. A new character created to beef up the movie adaptation, Tauriel should provide the girl power that Eowyn and Arwen brought to the screen versions of Tolkien’s male-centric novels.

Tauriel was revealed to be the bodyguard of Thranduil (Lee Pace), father of Legolas and King of the Woodland Realm. Handy with twin blades, Tauriel looks to be pretty merciless when it comes to despatching Orcs.  PJ also revealed that he was excited about the story arc created for this original character.

6. Legolas will be getting involved in the action
He might be Elvish royalty, but Legolas will be getting stuck back into the action again this time around. His invention on the battlefield was one of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy’s recurrent highlights, and he looks set to reprise that in TDOS.

As there was still a lot of green-screen in place, it wasn’t entirely clear who Legolas was scrapping with, or why, just that he was. (At one point he was balanced precariously on two green footholds that were being vigorously rocked by an army of set-hands. Only time will tell what CGI will step in to replace the greenery.)

And Peter Jackson was keen to stress that laid back Orlando Bloom is worlds apart in personality terms from his po-faced, strait-laced onscreen counterpart.
Judging by the footage, Bloom actually seems to be aging at the same rate as an Elf.

7. Mirkwood will be a terrifying location
If we took one thing away from the event, it’s that The Desolation Of Smaug will take The Hobbit into altogether scarier territory than An Unexpected Journey.
Jackson revealed some of John Howe’s concept art, which showed Mirkwood as a dark, looming fairytale-esque forest.

The fortress of Dol Guldur (the stronghold of the Necromancer), is infecting the forest, spreading its unique brand of evil throughout the land. Actor Jed Brophy (‘Nori’) co-presented the event with Jackson, and attested to the set’s scariness levels.

Inside Thranduil’s realm there was no shortage of grandeur either, with a network of bridges appearing organically from the trees. And Thranduil himself has a particularly impressive throne to sit on.

8. The Necromancer will have an expanded role in Part 2
Jackson was asked if the Necromancer will play a bigger role in Desolation, and he answered with a resounding, “Yes!”

Sadly, he didn’t venture any further details, but Cumberbatch fans will be pleased to know that they’re getting an expanded double dose (Cumberbatch plays both Smaug and the Necromancer via the magic of performance capture).

9. Gandalf will be playing detective
In the only completed clip to be revealed, we witnessed Gandalf journeying into the tombs within the High Fells, to discover how the Witch-King of Angmar’s blade might have been exhumed.

Looks as though something broke out, as opposed to in. Inside the tombs, Gandalf bumped into Radagast the Brown (Sylvester McCoy), in a scene that amped up the fear factor. This sequence was further evidence of the Tolkien appendices being mined to beef up The Hobbit.

10. The trailer arrives in summer, and the video blogs will continue
The trailer is still being worked on, with VFX shots being tweaked in readiness, and Jackson promised that it’d likely appear in front of summer 2013’s biggest blockbusters (Man Of Steel, anyone?)  And, fans will also be keen to learn that Jackson’s enormously generous videoblogs will return to provide further insight into the production process.

And with that, the event came to an end, with a brief montage of unfinished behind-the-scenes clips, ending on a shot of Thorin Oakenshield in Laketown, stating forcefully that, “We have come back to reclaim our homeland!” And then an almighty roar – from what can only be Smaug – brought the proceedings to a close.

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