Okay, I apologize for posting about a TV commercial for a sequel to a(n enjoyably) shitty movie based on a toy. But I saw this new commercial for GI JOE: RETALIATION and I had to watch it a bunch of times in a row. I really think STEP UP 2-3’s Jon M. Chu is gonna pan out as a director of silly action movies, and that gives me some hope for the future of action filmatism.
First of all, here’s the commercial:
Okay, admittedly it’s corny that it’s based around a Jay-Z lyric (although it does kinda make it seem like The Rock is playing himself). But I’m sort of mesmerized by this footage. It takes the, uh, strengths (if you want to call them that) of the first movie (ninjas, a dude who wears an all black rubber costume, flipping, explosions, gimmicky vehicles, constant ridiculousness) and adds something new: taste. Stephen Sommers made such an ugly, cheesy-looking movie, already seeming dated when they started advertising it. But these shots look nice:
Nicely designed and composed, striking to look at. I believe that’s RZA on the left, by the way. Same character he played in GHOST DOG, in my opinion.
What I love about this is that despite being 30 seconds, quickly edited and full of action it’s clear what’s going on in every single shot. The camera isn’t static but it always frames everything nicely:
It’s always clear who is in the shot (or at least what color of ninja), where they’re standing (or flying or swinging) and which direction they’re moving, even in edited-down-for-the-Super-Bowl form. Obviously we can compare this to the other filmatic adaptations of the works of Hasbro and see a hell of a difference. I saw that trailer for TRANSFORMERS IN DARK MOON like ten times in theaters, there were still parts of it that I didn’t know what I was looking at. They just dump a big barrel of wiggly shiny crap on the screen and if the sound is loud enough your brain figures it must be amazing. This is the opposite. This is clean. I like it.
I figured since Chu had so much experience shooting elaborate dance sequences he could apply those skills to other forms of movement. I saw an interview where he said he didn’t think dance scenes and action scenes were really the same skill, but if so I guess he must be good at both.
Looks like this one has a little bit of dancing:
…but probly more punching:
I remember the trailer for the first GI JOE picture really showcased the scene where the GI Josephs wear power suits and it’s computer animation of them flipping around and crashing through a subway and stuff. I got a good laugh out of Sommers’s trademark use of really outdated looking digital effects in a big expensive movie, but it’s nice to see that Chu is going the opposite route and trying to do a good job. When I saw that teaser trailer I kind of thought this was a real stunt:
Like maybe a nice digital background but real guys on wires or something. But watching it again I figure the movements and poses are just too cartoon perfect, it’s gotta be fake. But I’m not actually sure ’cause it really looks like live action to me. I dig it.
My preferred form of action movie would probly not be this silly, but it takes all kinds. This looks like a hell of alot of fun. I think style is gonna do inappropriate things to substance in this movie. If not, it will still be a movie starring Dwayne Johnson, Bruce Willis, the RZA, Ray Stevenson, Walton Goggins, Byung-Hun Lee, Arnold Vosloo, Ray Park, and probly some surprise guest star under the mask of Cobra Commander. Jay-Z, probly. That would tie in with conspiracy theories about Jay-Z and the Illuminati or whatever. And it would be such shock ending ’cause the guy The Rock quotes to pump up the troops was behind the attack all along. He’d be real upset, but, you know. You can’t knock the hustle.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.