G.I. Joe: Retaliation - Blu Ray Extended Action Cut
I think we'll all agree that G.I. Joe: Retaliation as a film had a long and twisted road to production, and as it would turn out, the controversy from the film even extended itself to the theatrical release. Through all of the ups and downs of the months leading to the film, we saw numerous clips, trailers, TV spots, and other footage, and as it would turn out, quite a sizable chunk of that footage actually never made the final theatrical cut.
Well, now that the "Extended Action Cut" has been released as a Best Buy Exclusive, we are getting our first real look at a more complete G.I. Joe: Retaliation film, and the results are pretty awesome.
I was a fan of the film right off the bat, and very much enjoyed the version I saw in theaters, but along with many other viewers, I thought it felt somewhat strangely edited and didn't flow especially well in some key parts. There were some issues with character development, and the final battle seemed to sort of come out of nowhere.
This Best Buy exclusive Extended Action Cut actually adds nearly 13 minutes of additional footage, and while that may not seem like a lot on the surface, in truth, these 13 minutes really change and improve the structure, development, and execution of the film at large. Don't get me wrong, people who didn't like the film at all aren't going to suddenly change their mind and decide it's a masterpiece, but folks like me who enjoyed it, but had some editorial questions will likely have many of those questions eased.
I'm going to refrain from going on a scene-by-scene breakdown of the additional footage, but I will touch on some of the more key additions that help how the film flows. If you want to see a full blown scene-by-scene breakdown of the new footage, check Movie-Censorship.com.
- The Bar Scene. This is a somewhat infamous scene that we've seen images and footage of already, and the scene appears near the start of the film, right after the Joes extract the defector. The main crux of the scene is Roadblock chastising Flint for his departure from mission, but the end result is a terrific bond of these teammates as we see them all laughing, drinking, and having a general good time at the expense of others on the team. Agent Mouse really shines in this short sequence, and I thought this short scene went a very long way to deepen the bond between the Joes and make most of their deaths all the more impactful later on.
- The Arashikage Dojo. We saw a good chunk of this scene in the final film, where Snake Eyes and Jinx are training, but in the Extended Action Cut, the sequence is extended considerably and moved closer to the beginning, actually before the whole Call of Duty scene in Roadblock's home. This sequence does a great job introducing Jinx to the audience and further exploring her relationship with Snake Eyes, plus the actual martial arts action is longer and more well developed.
- Pakistan Nuke Retrieval. Probably my favorite sequence in the entire film in the theaters, and it was made only better in the Extended Action Cut. There isn't one long added sequence in this area or anything, but there are several added action components, with Flint's slide under the racks, Roadblock shooting a few more enemies and some other small additions throughout this gun battle. It ends up making what was already an awesomely choreographed battle sequence even better.
- The President's Son. The Presiden't overweight son "ambushes" Zartan with a pretend weapon, and Zartan insults him, then tells Zandar to "take him out" next time. The less I say about this sequence the better. I actually felt like this little bit of humor was contrived and out of place and didn't flow with the rest of the film. This one could have stayed on the cutting room floor.
- The rescue of Cobra Commander. This entire scene was extended throughout the rescue itself with a bit more footage from Storm Shadow's attack on the guards, as well as Firefly's infiltration. But the real meat of the addition came afterwards when Jinx shows up while Snake Eyes is watching this all happen, and we get even more development between the two characters.
- Roadblock attempts to assassinate the President. Well "attempts to assassinate" is probably too strong a phrase, but Roadblock was hiding out in the alley ready to kill Zartan. In the theatrical release, Lady Jaye and Flint don't seem to have an issue with this plan. In the Extended Cut, they argue with him and try to convince him not to do it. The point is moot as Firefly interrupts and a fist fight breaks out, but it was a very interesting departure.
- Lady Jaye sews up Roadblock's wounds. Back at the gym, Lady Jaye gives Roadblock some medical treatment as he and Flint have a verbal confrontation about his attempt to kill the President. It makes for some great additional character development there and shows a real conflict in opinions between the two Joes.
- Cobra's Arrival at the Freedom Summit. In the theater, we never really see Cobra arrive at the summit, they're just kind of already there, which brought up some questions. In the Extended Cut we see the infamous scene of them leaving the Water Moccasin (and the earlier comment about Storm Shadow being a "Trojan Horse" makes more sense as well).
- Final battle. There's no way I'm going to be able to sum up all of the changes here, but just trust me, the entire battle was essentially re-edited and recut. We have more ninja action in the UN assembly piece, we see more Firefly, and we see a lot more Jinx as she gets down and dirty with several Cobra Troopers she never ran across in the theatrical version. Snake Eyes gets in on the action as well, and the sequence with Storm Shadow and Zartan is interrupted by the arrival of Firefly, who steals the briefcase and much more effectively sets up the final confrontation between himself and Roadblock at the end. Like the Pakistan gun fight, these small cuts and edits throughout the entire run of the final battle make a world of difference.
As I said, I was a fan of the film anyway, but this Extended Action Cut only made me more of a fan. The film flows much better than the theatrical cut did and as an entire film, I found myself even more satisfied at its conclusion than I did walking out of the theater those four months ago.
Along with the Extended Action Cut, this exclusive comes with a DVD version of the Theatrical cut as well as the three same deleted scenes as the regular release. However, the Extended Action Cut only comes with 6 behind the scenes features, whereas the regular release had 8. The Extended Cut does not have "The Desert Attack" behind the scenes featurette, or "Deployment". Also lacking from this version is the director/producer commentary, which I must admit was a fantastic addition to the regular Blu-Ray release.
So, ultimately, if I could only recommend one version of the G.I. Joe: Retaliation home release, it would be this one. The 13 minutes of added footage makes a huge difference with the movie itself, and that added footage outweighs the Commentary ommission and the two behind the scenes features in my opinion. However, if you really want to soak yourself in as much Retaliation as possible, you're going to want to pick up the regular mass release as well.