“G.I. Joe: Retaliation”
Redemption is more like it
Everyone has one TV show they loved as a kid and even up into adulthood. For many people, it was the cartoon “G.I. Joe,” a military action series that not only provided curiously bloodless battles, but also life lessons. Considering its popularity, it’s no shock fans were very critical of the first attempt to adapt it to film in 2009, and with good reason: It wasn’t very good. Fortunately, this year’s “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” manages to bring some redemption to the series.
Following the events of the first film, Cobra agent Zartan (Arnold Vosloo) has disguised himself as president of the United States (Jonathan Price) while Cobra Commander (Robert Baker) remains imprisoned by the elite “G.I. Joe” team. Overnight, however, Zartan organizes the rescue of his commander and the violent decommissioning of the Joes. With very few resources, surviving Joe Sergeant Roadblock (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and his remaining men set out for revenge and to bring the real president back into power, before Cobra Commander can unleash his next attempt at world domination.
Simply put, the story in the original “G.I. Joe” film was cheesy. I understand they were going for a science fiction-style adventure film but it came off as a live action cartoon instead of a live action adaptation of a cartoon. Retaliation hits the mark a little more accurately, providing futuristic tech like motorcycles that break apart into missiles, without abusing the audience’s suspension of disbelief. The stakes seem much higher in this film as well, and while the climax may seem a little off in its pacing it is still pretty intense. Some plot points involving personal favorite Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and newcomer Jinx (Elodie Yung) were rushed, but for the most part the story moved at a decent pace. Whatever problems the plot may have, however, it did little to detract from my entertainment.
Although a professional wrestler, Johnson is a good actor. His back-and-forth dialogue with Channing Tatum’s Duke is pretty hilarious, and he fit the role of a Joe perfectly. I can’t talk about Arnold Vosloo’s acting, as he’s disguised as the president for the majority of the film, but Jonathan Price does an excellent job and is probably the highlight of the film. Ray Park as Snake Eyes takes a close second, even though most of his acting involves fighting. I have little to complain about with the other actors’ performances; you can tell there was an effort to improve from the first film, as there was in all of the other aspects.
“Retaliation” lacks the secret-under-water-Antarctic-military-bases and secret-under-ground-Egyptian-military bases of its predecessor, so there was more flexibility in providing better special effects for the smaller things. Sometimes a computer-generated person seemed a little weightless, but other than that nothing else distracted me. The script is much better too, balancing comedy and drama fairly well and focusing on fewer characters. I could tell, however, there were cuts made to the film, as one particular scene of destruction isn’t really given much attention.
I’ve heard some unfavorable comments on “G.I. Joe Retaliation,” though I feel some people are still a little hurt from the previous film. And while these particular people and others like them are entitled to their opinions, I encourage people to give this sequel a chance; the filmmakers deserve that much for their efforts.
This film is rated PG13.
and in local dining out:
Unassuming hole-in-the-wall with good eats
Good Chinese restaurants are few and far between. My wife’s dad gave her a piece of advice when it came to judging a Chinese restaurant: Check the floor. If it’s dirty, the food is great because they’re too busy cooking to clean the floor.
The Canton Dragon on Indian School Road fits that bill.
On the outside, the Canton Dragon looks like a bowling alley from the 1980s with its aging red awning over the entrance.
Walk inside and you’ll notice the walls are bare. A stainless steel sink with a few bottles of liquor located behind the cash register serves as the bar. The menu states they can make anything. But we didn’t go there to drink; we went there to eat.
Our server was polite enough sans the cheery “Welcome to [insert casual dining restaurant of your choice]” greeting.
Our first night there it was late and we were hungry so that may have “flavored” the food a bit. We brought some friends with us for lunch for our second experience and we all confirmed the food is legitimately tasty.
The menu offers most traditional Chinese restaurant fare Americans are used to, and everything except the lo mein and fried rice comes with steamed rice. There’s General Tso’s chicken, beef broccoli, egg drop soup and sweet and sour pork. Chef specials include dishes with whimsical names such as 7 Stars and a Moon, Happy Family and Buddha’s Delight. During our first meal there, my wife ordered the walnut shrimp, our friend had the chicken fried rice and I opted for the curry beef.
The walnut shrimp was the best we’d ever tasted from a Chinese restaurant. At one restaurant, the shrimp was barely noticeable in the ball of batter, and another place added peanuts to the dish instead of walnuts.
The chicken fried rice was flavorful and satisfying. If you’re in a hurry or on a budget, you can eat a portion of this without ordering other entrees.
Canton Dragon’s curry beef was mildly spicy even for a lightweight like me. There’s just enough spiciness to make you take notice, but it will come across as very mild if you enjoy nuclear war in your mouth.
We went back last week and tried the pork ribs, salt and pepper pork, beef with garlic sauce, chicken lo mein and the green bean delight. All the dishes were very tasty, telling me the chef is consistent with his cooking.
My wife is the type of foodie who likes to order off-menu items. She asked for the mapo tofu, a spicy Szechuan bean curd dish, and luckily the chef was able to make it. Keep in mind our success rate with off-menu ordering at this point is one attempt, so you may or may not have success with it. Try your luck and let me know.
All dishes are reasonably priced, and they even offer a family dinner combo. Combination plates and dishes served over rice are available during lunch from opening to 4 p.m.
The Canton Dragon is located on 7307 W. Indian School Road near 73rd Avenue and next to the Desert Sky Lanes bowling alley. Business hours are 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 9:30 p.m. Sunday.