Valdosta Daily Times

Features

April 9, 2013

‘G.I. Joe’? G.I. No

VALDOSTA — “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” (Action/Science Fiction: 1 hour, 50 minutes)

 Starring: Dwayne Johnson, D.J. Cotrona, Channing Tatum and Bruce Willis

 Director: Jon M. Chu

 Rated: PG-13 (Violence, brief sensuality and language)

 

Movie Review: While entertaining, this film, like is predecessor “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” (2009), is lacking in the believability department. It fails to convince.

This outing, the President of the United States (Jonathan Pryce) deems members of G.I. Joe radical enemies of the state. However, the president is really Zartan (Arnold Vosloo), a Cobra agent of disguises. Zartan orders the attack to annihilate G.I. Joe forces. Led by Roadblock (Johnson), a few remaining Joes intend to stop Cobra forces from ruling the world.

Chu (“Step Up 2: The Streets,” 2008) directs this screenplay as if it were the 1980s cartoon, except the characters deviate from the cartoon series drastically in appearance and style. The plot has holes. In between those gaps, moments of uneven characterizations are prevalent.

This film appears more apt to deliver eye candy and comedic action sequences than a military, serious action plot. Numerous scenes are laughable.

Enter Bruce Willis. He arrives, spouting one-liners like John McClane from “Die Hard.” This is not a solid movie in part because of slack character development. When a major character dies, it is not moving in the least. These people are just puns to facilitate a weak global story.

Willis may be humorous, but his tactics do not save this wayward action flick. This one is just entertainment that is easy to observe and easier to clear from the mind once finished.      

Grade: C- (Retroactively bad.)

 

“Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor” (Drama: 1 hour, 51 minutes)

Starring: Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Robbie Jones and Lance Gross

Director: Tyler Perry

Rated: PG-13 (Strong language, violence, sexuality and drug content)

 

Movie Review: In cinemas, too many subplots can be overload. This is the case with Tyler Perry’s “Temptation,” a drama about marriage, love and lust.

Judith (Smollett-Bell, “The Great Debaters,” 2007) is a therapist at a matchmaking service in Washington, D.C. Her husband is Brice (Gross, who has starred in Perry’s television productions). The couple has loved each other since they were children living in a rural area. Now in a big city, they have nice jobs, but Judith wants more. The couple’s lives change when Judith meets Harley (Jones), a billionaire interested in expanding his business ties with the company for which Judith works. Harley is a major temptation for Judith that will alter her life tremendously.

People can resist anything except temptation. Those words should be the tag line for this drama with too many sub-stories. Perry tries too hard to make each character’s life as relevant as the next. He also tries to make meaning of all matters, major or trivial. This complicates matters, as each persona becomes a lead and complicates the focus of this tale. Each character has depressing problems, a too plentiful occurrence.

The film has a few bright spots. Jones is cunning as a devious romantic pursuer. Gross provides a few good dramatic turns. However, their characters exhibit uncharacteristic behavioral changes near the end that appear out of place. This is especially true for Smollett-Bell - Judith’s personality appears different in multiple scenes.

One character maintains her comical appeal throughout. She is Renée Taylor. She plays Gross’ boss. She provides a little humor when matters become overly dramatic.

In a scene, Smollett-Bell’s Judith describes her boss (Vanessa Williams) as going through an existential identity crisis — confused about who she is. Well, “Temptation” suffers from that same crisis. It waffles, using subtle but clichéd African-American themes that are commonplace in Perry’s films. Think of that as a different type of infidelity.                      

Grade: C (Interesting, but it is a minor confession.)

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