This is a marginally better effort than the first movie..they keep the 'Joe team small and focused like it should have always been, yet at the sacrifice of some absurd plot devices. There is a bit more respect to the GI Joe aesthetic, gone is the dreaded baby blue fashion camo that features "GI JOE" woven into the fabric..and I'm grateful for that.
Still, the movie is utter crap. Halfway through it I questioned my footing in reality as an adult male in my 30's that still enjoys this kind of stuff. That still enjoys 80's and 90's retro culture and toy collecting. It nearly made me hate myself and the things that bring me happiness. Here's why:
The performances are phoned in. They have a few big stars anchoring the schlock in place yet every single character lacks dimensionality. There is little personal development for key characters to advance and enrich the story, save for the obvious and unavoidable Arishikage subplot that for some reason has dominated GI Joe for over 15 years. I'll admit, there are some great scenes between the ninja in this movie, and it felt rewarding to sit through..but it couldn't make this movie worth recommending. It's fan service crap. This is what Hasbro Inc, a conglomerate worth billions, produces out of obligation. They have 300 million or so every now and again to burn on movies and marketing, and here you go: GI JOE Retaliation.
It's soul-less, it gets nearly every character depicted in it wrong, it strays from source material and is a disrespect to foaming-at-the-mouth nerds like myself. Fun to watch once and not take seriously, and wipe from your memory. This is what your fringe friends and distanced family think GI JOE is, to you. This is what kids half your age think GI JOE is...this ain't GI JOE. Watch some better spy thrill flicks instead, or watch the classic GI Joe cartoons instead..this stinks.