When "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" came out in 2009, the skepticism that had plagued it during its production ("Why are ninjas wearing trench coats and sneakers?" "Why does Snake Eyes have rubber lips molded into his mask?" "How did they blackmail Joseph Gordon-Levitt into being in this?" "Has anyone else noticed that director Stephen Sommers' resume should be declared a crime against moviegoers?") was mostly proven to be well-founded, and the movie had a tepid box office run.
But, it made enough dough to warrant a sequel, and now we have our first look at "G.I. Joe: Retaliation." We have a new director, John Chu (who, er, directed "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never") and a revamped cast and, well, we have to say this trailer has us cautiously optimistic. Why? Because of The Rock, that's why.
So let's see what we just saw....
Among the new recruits are "Flint" (played by D.J. Cotrona) and "Lady Jaye" (played by one-time Wonder Woman Adrianne Palicki). In toy form, they look like this and this. However, in the movie world everyone wears the same thing so the code names are almost interchangeable.
We then see original team leader "Duke," who is once again played by Channing Tatum. The scar on his cheek is a nice touch.
Ah, a female ninja. That mixes things up. This red-clad warrior is called "Jinx," and she's played by Elodie Yung. In the various comic books and TV series, she's been both an apprentice to the Joe's resident ninja Snake Eyes, and his cousin. She trains with Snake Eyes' mentor, Blind Master, who, according to IMDB, is being played by RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan, which we refuse to believe because that's too awesome.
Things fall apart. Not to be confused with "Things Blow Up," by Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe. Strike that. Reverse it.
The American people are so disillusioned that they actually elect Jonathan Pryce President. That man is evil and British, and that's the worst combination. Maybe, though, this time around he's a force for good…
What's this? The Joes are in shackles? What's going on? Dogs and cats, living together - mass hysteria! We are told they are being charged with treason. Surely someone must be framing them, right?
Ray Stevenson ("Thor") then pops up on cue as new villain "Firefly." According to Joe lore, Firefly is a saboteur and a mercenary. Note the new-look Cobra Commander to his right. He looks less like the melted scientist from the first movie, and much closer to his toy and TV incarnation.
Oops. Forget that whole "force for good" thing. Here we see President Pryce colluding with Cobra Commander. This anti-Joe conspiracy goes all the way to the top!
The Joes are decimated. Their numbers wiped out. Cobra has struck a devastating blow. Their plan was almost…ALMOST…100 percent effective. Except for one tiny, small, trivial detail...
...THEY LET THE ROCK LIVE! Cobra, Cobra, Cobra. Do you have any idea what you've done? This man destroys sinister terrorist organizations in between squat thrusts. In this world, Dwayne Johnson is being called "Roadblock," but you'll still only refer to him as The Rock. As well you should.
The evil ninja (and Snake Eyes nemesis) Storm Shadow looks decidedly less dead than he did at the end of the first movie.
The White House draped in Cobra flags. The terrorists have won.
Oh, wait. No they haven't - because their biggest loose end also happens to have the biggest gun. The Rock is ON THIS, people.
Jinx and Snake Eyes appear to be fighting, but since we already spoiled the fact that they are master and student and probably blood relatives, this shot kind of loses its impact. Sorry.
We're guessing this is Jinx, now fighting alongside Snake Eyes. She's wearing yellow to throw you off, but, again, we already ruined the surprise.
Still, though - Snake Eyes and Jinx fighting a horde of ninjas while rappelling down a mountain? OK. As far as set-pieces go, this is pretty damn good. We're sold, "G.I. Joe: Retaliation." Nice job. There's literally nothing you have to do now to make us want to see this movie more. Well done. This trailer is pretty jam packed with great stuff, and…what's that? There's one last shot?
…and it's BRUCE WILLIS??? <faints>
Bruce Willis and The Rock. In one movie. Merry Christmas, America.
"G.I. Joe: Retaliation" opens everywhere June 29, 2012