G.I. Joe: Retaliation: 2 out of 10

In the 2009 Star Trek, a major planet is destroyed by the villain as part of his plan for vengeance. This was a Big Deal, both because of the scale of the violence and because it showed the stakes involved in stopping the movie's villain. Unfortunately, it appears that Hollywood took the wrong lesson from this escalation, and decided that genocidal violence is okay for use as a casual threat. Thus, in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, the creators decide to completely obliterate a major world capital just to show that villain is serious (and to show off some special effects). And once done, this is never mentioned again.

This is not the only example of the use of genocide as a game within the movie, but it is the most egregious example.

To be fair, this is a movie about a toy line (which, as I have previously mentioned, I did not play with as a child), so perhaps some latitude is in order. But the previous movie felt more like a game, with a straightforward (if silly) plot that matched the tone of the potential play. Retaliation spent its time focusing on the acts of terror, rather than the underlying plots or characters, and it suffered for it.

The genocide issue isn't the only significant problem in the movie. From a creative perspective, it's pretty obvious that there were far too many people tinkering with the movie, as plot-lines are inexpertly sewn together, characters are developed and then quietly discarded, and story points are provided and then ignored. An example: in between the filming of the movie and its release, Channing Tatum gained significant prominence in Hollywood. Significant focus was applied to move his character front-and-center - but he's only in the first 20% of the movie, so this character work was wasted. And the time was taken away from the other characters, who actually needed development.

The timing of the movie vis-a-vis current political events was at least interesting. The movie focused on North Korea as a nuclear power quite a lot, generally making the country the brunt of the jokes; this felt a bit odd during a week where the DPRK has threatened the nuclear destruction of several US cities. The idea of nuclear disarmament is played as a joke. The president gets significant support from the American people for sending armed forces into foreign nations. And the movie spends significant effort displaying and guns and military equipment, during an ongoing national discussion of gun control. If there had been any sense that the timing of these messages was intentional, I may have given the movie a few points just for its chutzpah.

Instead, the movie gets what few points it does get from its hilarious ninja scenes. A plot regarding Storm Shadow (bad guy) and Darth Maul In Black (good guy) that has been going on for decades is explained to us in rapid dialogue by RZA. There are black-and-white flashbacks; an Evil Grandmother Ninja first heals a fellow ninja and then fights a Good Female Ninja whose name I didn't catch; dozens of ninja fall to their deaths off of cliffs for some reason; and then they team up for some reason. These scenes were probably the worst of all, but I laughed uproariously through most of it. I hope that this forces various Adult Swim cartoons to up their game.

Even if you enjoy that kind of thing, though, this was a bad movie - worse than its predecessor, and almost as bad as Transformers 2.

Rating: 2/10