Originally slated for release last summer, this movie was pulled from the schedule in order to convert to 3D – at least that was the official reason why. At the same time, additional scenes were shot in order to give Channing Tatum (who reprises his role as Duke from the first movie) more screen time. While the reason for this is clear, it doesn't completely work in the movie as a whole.
G.I. Joe Retaliation starts shortly after the first movie, G.I. Joe: The Rise of COBRA. While this means it's not technically a reboot, it really is. If you didn't see the first movie, don't worry – you won't be missing anything important – the movie will quickly get you up to speed. Now the first movie was an homage to the classic cartoon series, with many of the one-liners that came from that show, including "Knowing is half the battle". Retaliation, however, is a homage to the comic books – which is more gritty and realistic. The weapons are mostly current-issue with almost none of the video game technology that was showcased in the first one, like invisibility cloaks. It transforms the series from being about the toys to being a straight-up action movie that just happens to occur in the G.I. Joe universe. The general plot is about COBRA's plan for world domination after the events in The Rise of COBRA. While COBRA seemed down and out at that point, it was almost as if the events from the first movie were planned out, like Loki being captured in The Avengers – it was part of the plan. The President of the United States is really a COBRA operative, Zartan (The Master of Disguise, played by Arnold Vosloo), who looks and talks like the real President (played by Jonathan Pryce). Using the power of the Presidency, Zartan frames the G.I. Joes for a crime they didn't commit and kills off most of the existing G.I. Joe team. The surviving members – Roadblock (played by Dwayne Johnson), Flint (played by D.J. Controna), and Lady Jaye (played by Adrianne Palicki) have to disappear, reconnect with other surviving G.I. Joes and get help from those they can trust.
A major subplot is also the secondary story in this film – which is lifted almost 100% from the comics. Snake-Eyes (played by Ray Park) returns to his comic book roots by not using only ninja weapons but guns as well. The subplot revolves around the story of how Storm Shadow killed the Hard Master (which was shown/discussed in the first movie) and the family wants him to be returned for justice. The Blind Master (played by Rza) introduces Snake-Eyes to Jinx (played by Elodie Yung) and the two of them go out to capture Storm Shadow completely separate from the rest of the G.I. Joe team. The truth of the events that occur in this subplot is completely lifted from the comics, with the exception of how exactly the Hard Master was killed (in the comics he was killed by an arrow while imitating the sounds of Snake-Eyes). Eventually, the two storylines merge in time for the grand finale.
The 3D version is not spectacular – the major 3D components are from the CGI sequences involving slow-motion and don't happen enough to make this a must-see film in 3D. The post-production of the 2D footage was acceptable, with no noticeable problems involving depth that was missed (no cardboard cutout-looking scenes). Now if you're looking at this movie for character development, it occasionally tries to head in that direction but doesn't get there. It appears that some of the new footage involves the relationship between Duke and Roadblock, but Roadblock doesn't really do any growing as a character in this movie. This is the same between the implied relationship between Duke and Lady Jaye (which happens in the comics) – it is teased but never goes anywhere in the film. Ignore these story flaws and you still have a solid action film – a great popcorn film. It's a wonderful homage to the comics and the action genre.