Senior Editor Peter Suderman reviews the new G.I. Joe film, Retaliation, in today's Washington Times:
The opening credits of the second "G.I. Joe" film informs viewers not once, but twice, that the movie is produced by Hasbro, the toymaker behind the line of cartoonishly militarized action figures on which the movie is based. The toy line has existed in some form for decades; originally, the figures were modeled to represent characters from various divisions of the U.S. military.
But in the early 1980s, Hasbro took the toys in another direction, transforming
the Joes into comic-book-style sci-fi heroes — a motley assortment of ninjas and elaborately armed robo-warriors fighting a gang of laser-wielding supervillains known as Cobra.
The good guys had names like Duke and Scarlett and Snake Eyes. The bad guys had names like Destro, Copperhead and Cobra Commander. Each had a simple but distinct personality, which made it easy for young fans to generate their own stories.
And they did. The toys were massively popular, and over the course of the decade millions of young boys — myself among them — spent countless hours spread out on the floors of their parents' dens, imagining the giant-sized battles and adventures
that the 3.75-inch toy figures might have if they were somehow real.
But now those boys are all grown up, with little time to waste on such play. The movie's proposition to its old fans seems to be: How about if someone spent $130 million attempting to imagine one of those adventures for you?
They needn't have bothered. "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" is noisy and incoherent, packed with big biceps and bigger guns, but with little in the way of imagination or fun.