G.I. Joe: Retaliation - Blu Ray Home Release
It seems like forever since G.I. Joe: Retaliation hit theaters, when in fact it was only a little over three short months ago, and the timeline from theater to home release seems to be getting ever shorter. This is not a bad thing.
As I write this, G.I. Joe: Retaliation has hit digital platforms already, being released on Google Play and iTunes in Standard Definition or High Definition formats, but something should be said for having the Blu-Ray disc in hand.
I received my copy of G.I. Joe: Retaliation from Paramount late last week, and got a chance to dig into it over the weekend, and I was surprised at how quickly the universe drew me back in. Like many G.I. Joe fans out there, I had some issues with the “cut” of the theatrical release, and it seemed like a little bit too much was left on the editing floor. This mass release Blu-Ray cut is the theatrical release, so any content-related issues I had with the film still exist here. However, there are many bonuses to the Blu-Ray mass retail version that I’m not sure even the Extended Action Cut can proclaim.
But let’s start at the beginning. Once you get through the myriad of previews and get to the menu, you have a choice between G.I. Joe and Cobra, where the menu aggressively says “Choose Your Side”. I picked G.I. Joe, but went back and chose Cobra the next time through, and didn’t see any visible changes with extra content, Easter eggs or anything like that. The same Special Features exist in both segments, though the animations and video running in the background are different based on your choice.
Speaking of special features, the mass retail Blu-Ray is chock full of them.
There is a director commentary of the entire film with both Jon Chu and Producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, which was pretty captivating. I haven’t listened to the commentary for the entire film, but you get some great behind-the-scenes perspective as they go from scene to scene. They comment about missing footage in specific places and shed some light on why certain footage was removed. As a fan, I was really drawn in initially by the enthusiasm and appreciation that Jon Chu has for the G.I. Joe brand, and that enthusiasm almost explodes throughout the director commentary, so it was almost like watching the film with a fellow G.I. Joe fan.
Now this was intriguing. Most of us are aware at this point what scenes were cut from the film, and an online article from Ecan Large even broke down specific footage that will supposedly be available in the Extended Action Cut that didn’t make the theatrical release.
However, none of those scenes are contained in these deleted scenes. Yes, you read that right, the three deleted scenes in this Blu-Ray release are three completely separate scenes that to my knowledge have not surfaced anywhere as of yet.
- Pakistan President – We hear through news stories and reported events about the assassination of Pakistan’s President, which kicks off the fury of anti-G.I. Joe sentiment (in the theatrical release, Snake Eyes is identified as the president’s assassin). We actually see the assassination take place here with who appears to be Snake Eyes sneaking over roof tops and putting an arrow in the Pakistani President. Interestingly enough, the President is having an impassioned speech with his staff about “harboring terrorists” and they mention Storm Shadow specifically.
- Interns – This was a humorous scene where Zartan (disguised as the President) is walking through the hallways of his retreat speaking to his staff (the guy who Lady Jaye seduces and knocks out later in the film) and an Intern approaches him, telling him he has a call from a “Rex Lewis”. Zartan makes a joke about interns and continues on his way.
- Arlington – In this scene Roadblock, Flint, and Lady Jaye sneak into Arlington National Cemetary and watch mournfully over the rows of graves there. Roadblock makes an emotional speech about why they do what they do and how they had to sneak over the border like common criminals and left their brothers and sisters lying in a foreign land. He swears to bring them all back and bury them properly and to kill the man responsible. They all raise silenced pistols and give their own 21 gun salute to the fallen. Flint asks Roadblock why he didn’t fire his last round and he says he “left one in the chamber”, we suspect meant for Zartan.
These scenes are clearly separate from the ones mentioned in the article referencing the “Extended Action Cut” and I found that fascinating. It also encourages people to purchase this copy as well as the Extended Action Cut if you truly want to be exposed to all of the content surrounding the film.
Behind the Scenes Featurettes
As with director commentaries the behind-the-scenes stuff I’m not usually too gung ho about, but with a G.I. Joe film I couldn’t help but get invested in it, and honestly, I’m really glad I did. There is over an hour’s worth of behind the scenes stuff and I was enthralled by every single one of them. It should be noted, too, that these Behind-The-Scenes productions are different than ones that were shown on YouTube a few months ago. Totally different.
- Mission Briefing – This one spent some time talking about director Jon Chu, but also devoted a ton of time to showing some absolutely mind-blowing concept art, much of which we haven’t seen before (even in the G.I. Joe Con presentation). There were makeup and costume tests as well, but by far the highlight was the concept art.
- Deployment – There was a hint of effects, CGI and otherwise (which was used sparingly in the film), but much of this time was spent talking to Henry Humphries, a former Navy SEAL who spent the entire film as part of the training crew. We see some of the grueling military training the stars of the film went through to get it right and get some awesome perspective on the first combat assault in Pakistan. There are some great “prep work” scenes involving DJ Cotrona as Flint which were really interesting.
- Two Ninjas – For this feature, we see what went into the set design of the Arashikage Dojo and get some terrific interviews with RZA, Elodie Yung, and Ray Park. There’s some great fight choreography for the various ninja battles and interesting perspective from cast and crew. Most interesting to me was hearing about Elodie’s struggles with training and filming wearing a bandana in that pivotal scene we all know so well at this point.
- The Desert Attack – This kind of speaks for itself, but they go into great detail about the storyboarding, choreography, and impact of the desert attack. We see Channing Tatum’s first reaction to his infamous final scene and the internal struggles between Paramount and Hasbro over killing one of the most pivotal G.I. Joe characters in history.
- Cobra Strikes – As one might imagine, this feature was all about Cobra. We see some awesome detail about Cobra Commander, Firefly, Zartan, and Storm Shadow, with what motivates them, the various scenes in which they excelled and what went into designing the costumes. The script writers appear as well and confess that not even they know exactly what the heck accent Firefly is speaking with.
- Lone Soldiers – This scene focuses on the three remaining G.I. Joe members, Flint, Roadblock, and Lady Jaye and what goes into their motivations following the deser t battle. We also get behind the scenes looks at various scenes with Bruce Willis as Joe Colton and interviews with everyone surrounding that. What I found interesting was the cast members reactions to the fact that the desert battle scene was filmed early, and after it was over, most of the young actors left the film, and it gave them an emotional impact that carried throughout the rest of filming, almost as if they had actually lost teammates. It was an interesting concept I had not really considered previously.
- Monastery – An entire behind the scenes feature was focused only on the monastery battle featuring the ninjas, and this was a truly fascinating behind the scenes look. We see some of the excellent green screen sequences and get an idea of exactly how this entire battle was put together and how amazingly seamless it all became. The rigging and wire work actually done in the mountains, combined with green screen and assembled sets… truly amazing stuff. They actually did some awesome side-by-side looks at the green screen footage with the final footage right next to it and it was awesome to see it all match up.
- Fort Sumter – This final behind the scenes feature looked at the final battle of Fort Sumter, which was filmed at Fort Pike in New Orleans. The orientation and configuration of the Fort (and the associated museum) played a very pivotal role in the process throughout the final scenes in the film. We also get a look at the vehicles used throughout the films, including concept models, and there were some really hilarious scenes during filming. Trust me, you haven’t lived into you see Cobra Commander dancing a jig in full uniform and battle mask.
When you’re talking about films getting home releases, the film companies usually find interesting ways to make these films marketable, and I think Paramount has done a fantastic job with this release. I realize the Extended Action Cut is going to get most of the attention (as well it should) but with all of these deleted scenes, director commentary, and fantastic behind the scenes features, I would find it difficult not to recommend picking up this version as well.
The video quality and audio quality are both excellent, played through my Playstation 3 Blu-Ray player. The disc supports full 1080p and it was an awesome feeling to kick back in my home office and watch this film in high definition.
The mass retail version of the film also comes with a full digital copy that can be viewed over the web, or is fully compatible with iTunes, and the best part is, if you pre-order, that digital copy is available to you already.
While the film itself is the same as the theatrical release, the extra features still make this purchase worthy of consideration, especially for folks like me who are extremely interested in the behind the scenes stuff, concept art, and interviews with Hasbro staff like John Warden, Derryl DePriest, and Aaron Archer. There is a lot to love here, and I recommend this for any G.I. Joe fan or anyone who enjoyed the film.