Movie Review: G.I. Joe: Retaliation

03/29/2013 07:59 am ET | Updated May 29, 2013

People often debate situational ethics: Under what circumstances would an unethical act be ethical? Always an intriguing question.

But what about situational movie standards? We're talking about whether there's ever a time when a bad movie should be given a pass because, well, it's not as bad as it could be. Umm, no. Crap is crap.

Which brings me to G.I. Joe: Retaliation, the sequel to 2009's dog-dropping of a film, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. On a scale of one to 10, I would give the original, oh, a zero. No stars. An F.

So does the fact that Joe 2 isn't nearly as bad as the first film mean it's a good movie? By comparison to only that movie, yes.

But in the larger scheme of things? In comparison to other movies opening this year? This month? This week?

No, of course not. If the first G.I. Joe movie was an F, Joe 2 is, at best, a C-. More likely a D+. Barely passing.

The plot is pure Saturday-morning-cartoon-TV-show silliness. The evil organization Cobra has kidnapped and replaced the president (Jonathan Pryce) with their master of disguise, Zarthan (Arnold Vosloo), masked by a layer of shape-shifting nanotechnology. Now he and the rest of Cobra are going to spring Cobra Commander from maximum security prison to take over the world with the kind of satellite-borne technology that can make entire cities erupt in spontaneous earthquakes. (And there are probably people who will watch this movie and assume it's true.)

And the G.I. Joes? All but wiped out by Cobra in the film's first half-hour. It's up to the survivors -- including Dwayne Johnson and Adrienne Palicki -- to foil Cobra's plot. Bruce Willis shows up as a retired general named Joe, for whom the unit is named (but if you've seen a trailer, you've seen most of his role.)

Cue the endless automatic-weapon battles. Yawn.

This review continues on my website.