G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra may only have been a moderate commercial success for Paramount, but it managed to rake in enough cash to warrant interest in a sequel – albeit with a lower budget and a streamlined cast.

For some, G.I. Joe was mindless guilty pleasure fun that had the good sense not to take itself too seriously. For others, it was an abomination of the G.I. Joe brand that took far too many liberties with the property. That sort of mixed reaction should make the development of G.I. Joe 2 fairly interesting to watch, since the studio now has to determine which group it should try and cater to.

Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner indicated that the film would not be a complete reboot, but that it would feature a story that didn’t require any knowledge of the previous installment. That sort of loose connection strikes me as slightly problematic given how many plot threads were left dangling at the end of The Rise of Cobra, but most fans have an even bigger issue with G.I. Joe 2.

The decision to hire Jon Chu to direct the sequel seemed to surprise both the supporters and detractors of the original film. Chu’s resume includes Step Up 2: The Streets, Step Up 3D, and the Justin Bieber documentary/concert film Never Say Never – to say he wasn’t an obvious choice is a bit of an understatement, I think.

Chu recently spoke with The Deadbolt and opened up about his plans for G.I. Joe 2 and his love for that universe. He reveals that he has a long-standing familiarity with the property and a very specific message that he wants his film to communicate:

“Well, for Joe, I grew up playing with G.I. Joes and watching Joe and reading the comics of Joe. It means so much to me. To me, it’s one of the few brands that has a soul, a multi-generational soul, where it’s about what it means to be a leader in the community, in your home, with your friends, and what it means to be a leader and a hero. I think that’s an important message right now in the world when everyone’s kind of questioning what it means to be the leader of the world.”

His comments might not make the skeptics any more optimistic about his involvement with the project, but it does sound like Chu’s taking a somewhat unexpected approach when it comes to the tone of the film:

“I think it’s not just another action movie. Maybe the first one was that, but we’re really trying to break it down and take the shine off and show that my Joes were the ones in the mud, the sand and the trees and in the epic worldwide adventures. Each one had individual talents. So we really want to bring the experience of what I grew up with playing with these toys. What it feels like so that kids now can be reintroduced to the Joes and experience it in a different way. This is like down and dirty Joe for me.”


Chu also acknowledges that his previous films might not suggest that he’s capable of delivering a grittier take on G.I. Joe, but he insists that he understands how to use action as a form of visual storytelling:

“I mean, I can’t ever change what people think … In action, obviously it’s different, you’re doing a bunch of stuff. But the best action is action that’s telling your story, action that’s actually evolving your character. To me, I have a big challenge ahead of me. I want to do a really kick-ass movie, action that’s fun, big, crazy. But at the same time, at it’s core, the action is telling an emotional story about our heroes.”

I have no idea if Chu will ultimately be able to follow through with his intentions, but I do appreciate his understanding that the action should help push the story forward. Stephen Sommers tends to take a kitchen sink approach to his action scenes and I think G.I. Joe 2 would be better served by sequences that feel more dangerous and contain real consequences.

Of course, some might argue that Sommers’ desire to turn G.I. Joe into a live-action cartoon is part of what made the first movie work – or that it perfectly emulated the feeling of a being a kid playing with those toys. I’m not saying G.I. Joe 2 should be a full-on war film, but something in the middle of those two extremes could be a lot of fun.

G.I. Joe 2 hits theaters on August 10, 2012.

Source: The Deadbolt.