“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.)
“The Host” (Science-Fiction/Romance: 2 hours, 5 minutes)
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons and Jake Abel
Director: Andrew Niccol
Rated: PG-13 (Violence and some sensuality)
Movie Review: “The Host” is surprising in that it is better than expected, although containing formulaic elements displayed in “Twilight.” Niccol penned this screenplay, which is an adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s novel. Meyers is the person responsible for the “Twilight” books. Think of this as a light “Body Snatchers” (1993) meets “The Twilight Saga.”
Saoirse Ronan (“Hanna,” 2011) plays Melanie Stryder, a young woman captured by extraterrestrials that implant Wanda into Melanie’s body. Wanda soon finds Melanie’s presence remains strong. Melanie convinces Wanda to take her body to a desert area where the love of Melanie’s life is. The problem is a very aggressive Seeker (Kruger) is pursuing her. Seekers are the alien enforcers who track humans who have no alien symbiont implanted.
An interesting story exists here, although it is very similar to “Twilight.” An ancient being, one a thousand years old, falls for a young teen on earth. A love triangle develops. That should sound familiar for those having seen the films or read Meyers’ books regarding the “Twilight” series. This is the epic fail of this plot. Meyers and Niccol fail to break away from “Twilight” in that aspect. The worst part is this story would have been better, if “The Host” had debuted before “Twilight.” The comparison of plot similarities would be moot.
While advertised as a romance, this is not. It has a modest amount present in that department. Instead, this is really a science-fiction piece. That is where it should keep its focus. Instead, a love triangle develops, where character personality shifts are not persuasive.
However, this film offers a nice getaway for those looking for a lightweight form of entertainment. It is an interesting tale of galactic love and ethics. It is easy to sit through.
Grade: C+ (Interesting, despite similarities to the abovementioned.)
“G.I. Joe: Retaliation” (Action/Science Fiction: 1 hour, 50 minutes)
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