G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009), and G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)- 4K Review

Paramount Canada is gearing us up for the release of Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins (opens 22 July, 2021) with the release of the previous two Joe installments on newly remastered 4K. And what they give us is a sparkling picture and sound for films, that is almost as fun as playing with the toys that fired our imaginations growing up.

My friend Trevor had so many of the action figures, and his favourites (like most kids of the 80s who had a ninja fascination) were Storm Shadow (Lee Byung-hun) and Snake Eyes (brought to the screen by Ray Park). I just loved the tech, and the vehicles. The cartoon admittedly confused me, because no one ever died. How were they supposed to stop Cobra is they weren’t willing to stop them?

In 2009 Stephen Sommers, who has a knack for making fun popcorn movies (The Mummy, Deep Rising, Odd Thomas, and yes, there’s fun to be had in Van Helsing) directed the first film, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, that featured Channing Tatum and a star-studded cast that entertained, but struggled to find a walkable balance between action and humour.

The film is big, expansive, feels like it’s lifted from a comic book, and has lots of nods to Joe favourites, as Tatum takes on the role of Duke. He’s aided by Dennis Quaid, Marlon Wayans, Rachel Nichols, and Cobra boasts names like Christopher Eccleston, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Sienna Miller.

It’s a no-brainer action flick that is just goofy fun and the film includes a commentary by Sommers and producer Bob Duscay.

Four years later in 2013, Jon M. Chu, who would go on to direct Crazy Rich Asians and In the Heights, took over the reins, and expanded the roster to include Dwayne Johnson as Roadblock, Bruce Willis as General Colton, and while a number of cast members from the first film return to tie in with its established continuity, the film is very much its own thing, as the Joes find themselves on the outs with their own government (infiltrated by Cobra in the last film) and must fight on two fronts to clear their name and save the world.

It’s another popcorn film (and looks great in 4K!), and again, it wants to embrace its fan culture with nods to things they love, and stunt casting to make them smile.

This time around there is a commentary by Chu, and the film’s producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, and a blu-ray with the previously released extras, like deleted scenes, and a series of making of featurettes compiled under G.I. Joe: Declassified.

While the fortcoming Snake Eyes looks like a bit of a soft reboot, there are fans like me, who hope that eventually the series will be able to create it’s own cinematic universe, and take generations old and new on brand new battles, I’ll keep my ear to the ground for that, becausing knowing is half the battle…

G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra, and G.I. Joe: Retaliation are available on 4K now from Paramount Pictures!

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