G.I. Joe: Retaliation - Extended Action Cut review

Paramount's spectacular Blu-ray shows that there's still some life left in this old solider...

Now here's a curious thing: a film that is both a sequel to a recent action blockbuster as well as being a reboot of the entire franchise.

Of the Joes featured in 2009's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, only Duke (Channing Tatum) and Snake Eyes (Ray Park) return for this second outing. And Tatum's character only gets about 10 minutes of screen time before being killed alongside almost the entire G.I. Joe force in a sneak attack masterminded by the US President (Jonathan Pryce) – who is actually Zartan, the Cobra master of disguise.

Now the handful of survivors– Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki), Flint (D.J. Cotrona), Snake Eyes and Jinx (Elodie Yung) – must seek out the original G.I. Joe, General Joseph Colton (Bruce Willis) to help stop Cobra Commander (Luke Bracey) from bringing his diabolical plan for world domination to fruition

Stripped of the dumb gags and overt sci-fi trappings of its predecessor, G.I. Joe: Retaliation takes the film series back to its army action-figure roots and is all the better for it. If a third movie makes it to screens, we won't be complaining.

Picture: G.I. Joe: Retaliation joins the elite ranks of Blu-ray platters that deliver reference quality visuals. Make no mistake about it, this is a remarkable AVC 2.40:1 1080p encode that constantly dazzles. Every individual strand of hair, every facial wrinkle and the intricate stitching in the costumes are clearly delineated and plain to see.

The image is no slouch when it comes to colour presentation, either. Primaries, such as the red outfit Jinx wears during her dojo training in Chapter 1, are richly saturated. Admittedly, there's an obvious push to the grading that gives skintones a somewhat orange tint, but this was clearly intentional on the part of the filmmakers to lend the image a warmer tone, which makes a change from the blue-biased transfers of many modern movies.

This digital presentation also manages to retain the natural filmic appearance of a movie shot on 35mm stock, with a neatly resolved layer of grain evident throughout.
Picture rating: 5/5

Audio: If you were to try and sum up G.I. Joe: Retaliation's Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack in just one word, then you can do no better than 'bombastic'. Indeed, this Blu-ray packs the kind of no-holds-barred, ultra-aggressive sound design that makes the money you've spent on your speaker setup truly worth the investment.

The precision, clarity and utterly seamless integration of the surround channels means that it's possible to track the paths of individual bullets and shuriken around the soundfield. At the same time, the bass response is remarkably dynamic; pushing your subwoofer to its limits while somehow never feeling like it will swamp the rest of the mix.

Thankfully, G.I. Joe: Retaliation's TrueHD track proves just as impressive during quieter scenes. Dialogue is crystal clear, the score sounds suitably expansive and there's no shortage of subtle atmospheric touches to help breathe life into the film's locations.
Audio rating: 5/5

Extras: As Paramount has only included the 12-minute longer extended cut of the film on this UK release, this has precluded the inclusion of the chat-track by director Jon M. Chu and producer Lorenzo D. Bonaventura that accompanies the theatrical cut of the film on the regular US Blu-ray.

Thankfully, that's the only thing missing from this release, meaning that Region B buyers do still get a trio of deleted scenes and a collection of six behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Mission Briefing (10 minutes) takes a look at the goals that Paramount and Hasbro had in mind for the film (basically less sci-fi, more ninjas!); the decision to hire Jon M. Chu as director; and the challenges posed by shooting everything in New Orleans.

Cobra Strikes (nine minutes) and The Lone Soldiers (eight minutes) look at the cast, weapons and sets associated with the Joes and their enemies.

The Monastery (10 minutes) explores the creation of the film's most 'bad ass' (that phrase gets thrown around a lot in these featurettes) action set-piece, while Two Ninjas (eight minutes) keeps the ninja action coming with a look at the making of the Snake Eyes vs. Jinx dojo sequence.

Finally, Fort Sumter (12 minutes) looks at shooting the film's action-packed finale at Fort Pike.
Extras rating: 2.5/5

We say: Reference-quality picture and sound performance makes this sequel worth a look on Blu-ray. Go Joe!

G.I. Joe: Retaliation – Extended Action Cut, Paramount, All-region BD, £25 Approx