‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’ 3D Conversion Preview – Was It Worth the Wait?

Published 2 years ago by , Updated January 25th, 2013 at 7:59 am,

G.I. Joe 2 Retaliation 3D starring Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis G.I. Joe: Retaliation 3D Conversion Preview   Was It Worth the Wait?

When G.I. Joe: Retaliation officially kicked into gear in January 2011, producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura (Transformers 4) sat down with Paramount to discuss 3D. The technology was considered and rejected.

“Paramount, when they first green-lit it, said to us, ‘We want to shoot in 3D,’” explained Di Bonaventura this week to journalists on the studio’s lot. “We said, ‘We do, too. We can’t mount this movie in 12 weeks and shoot it in 3D—we need more time.’ They said, ‘Well, you don’t have any more time,’ so we said, ‘Okay, we’re going to shoot it in 2D.’” At the time, 3D post-conversions like The Green Hornet were getting terrible buzz from audiences and critics, and with the original G.I. Joe earning terrible reviews (it scored a 32% on Rotten Tomatoes), it made sense that the studio wouldn’t want to invite the bad press that accompanied the rushed 3D conversions of The Last Airbender and Clash of the Titans.

And then in May of 2012—just one month before Retaliation was scheduled to hit theaters, and with toys already on shelves—the studio made the shock announcement that the film would be delyaed to accommodate a 3D conversion. With two months left until Retaliation hits theaters, Paramount hosted a look at their 3D footage to see if the wait (and the concerned publicity that came with the big delay) was worth it.

Bruce Willis in G.I. Joe Retaliation 3D G.I. Joe: Retaliation 3D Conversion Preview   Was It Worth the Wait?

Ten months is a lot of time to spend in 3D post-production—Clash of the Titans was converted in just ten weeks—but it’s not bizarrely exceptional. Both Thor and Captain America averaged eight months of post-converted 3D work, while The Avengers got by with just four since director Joss Whedon knew the film would be converted from the beginning. However, G.I. Joe director Jon M. Chu (Step Up 2 The Streets) wasn’t as lucky. Retaliation will be his third 3D film after Step Up 3D and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, but it’s also the first he’s shot without actual 3D cameras, or even a 3D game plan from the very beginning.

“It was shocking,” said Chu of the studio’s announced decision to postpone Retaliation for a 3D conversion, “but at the same time, we’d had long conversations with the studio like, ‘If we’re going to do this, we need the time to do it right.’” At least the raw footage itself wasn’t a problem, as Chu claimed he subconsciously shot Retaliation like a 3D film.

“I’ve shot two other 3D movies, so we were always thinking z-axis and how do you do that. It was a part of my brain at that moment,” said Chu. “When we were shooting,we were like, ‘Damn! I wish we were shooting this in 3D! It would have been awesome!” because we knew the set pieces were really big and really dynamic. Obviously you want to see The Rock’s pecs in 3D.”

GI Joe Retaliation Ninja Battle on Mountain G.I. Joe: Retaliation 3D Conversion Preview   Was It Worth the Wait?

The Ninja Mountain Battle

Instead of screening topless shots of Dwayne Johnson, Di Bonaventura and Chu showed journalists the 3D version of the Himalayan fight between Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes they’d seen being filmed on the set. In the sequence, Snake Eyes ambushes Storm Shadow in a hallway and handily destroys his shooting stars with bullets—a slowed-down trick that looks great in 3D. The fight spills through a window where Jinx helps Snake Eyes stick Storm Shadow into a body bag and lower him off the mountain. But then red ninjas give chase, forcing the two heroes to jump on rappelling lines to swing to freedom, while doubling back to attack the ninjas with swords.

The four minutes of footage we saw were all angles and action. They made it seem almost impossible that the film wasn’t designed for 3D. And just as strikingly: the entire 10-minute sequence that will be seen in theaters is entirely silent—no dialogue, no music, and not even any screams. (“There was actually kind of a ‘Huh!!’ in the middle that we took out, said Di Bonaventura.)

“I remember when we were were shooting it, I was like, ‘Aw, is this going to be really boring? A long hallway?’” said Chu. “But it made you think differently about it, and ultimately when it was in 3D, you’re like ‘This is crazy, it’s perfect.’” To get the physics right during the cliff chase, Chu invited a climbing expert into his office to literally play G.I. Joe, holding figurines and pretending the chairs were mountains.

As for the 3D sequences Chu loves that journalists still haven’t seen, he gushed about getting to build a huge H.I.S.S. tank (“To bring it to life—and not just CG, but physically—was pretty awesome”) and sending it out to do battle with Roadblock’s (Johnson) nimble Ripsaw tank, and while clearly trying to avoid giving anything away, described one more as “a great, crazy scene where Storm Shadow comes back and Cobra Commander arrives and it’s really really fun because it’s all places with water and glass and shards going everywhere.”

The actual work of the conversion is harder than Chu anticipated. “It’s more legwork than I expected,” he said. “To get it right takes not one, three, five, six go-arounds. It takes like 12 to 20—literally—watching these scenes over and over again and just making little adjustments here and there. Which actually feels a little freeing. Even when I shot in 3D, you couldn’t adjust some of the things that we can adjust, some of the edges that you want to clean up.”

GI Joe Retaliation Roadblocks Tank G.I. Joe: Retaliation 3D Conversion Preview   Was It Worth the Wait?

Roadblock’s Tank 

Chu and Di Bonaventura, both self-described perfectionists, expect to be fixating on the 3D conversion all the way up until the film opens, and mentioned that even the four minutes we saw might be tweaked and flattened.

“There are scenes that are cut fast and we’re still in that process of finding those things, even in the hallway, they’re going fast and swiping at each other—we’re pushing it right now,” said Chu. “In the final movie, I may compress that so your eyes aren’t jumping around so much and you see a little more clearly. I think that’s something we learned even on the dance stuff: you can do those things, but you’ve got to push it, get all the fun moments, and then go back over it and over it to see where we need to control it a bit more. We’re in that process right now. In our movie, there’s some fast action things that we want to do in it and we don’t want the 3D to restrict those, either. I think the hybrid is a fun thing—we get to play both sides. That just literally takes focus and time.”

At least with Retaliation‘s 10-month delay, Chu’s had all the time he could have asked for.


G.I. Joe: Retaliation will be in (3D) theaters on March 29, 2013.

Follow Amy on Twitter: @TheAmyNicholson

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  1. Good feelings restored:)

  2. You don’t really seem to offer much in the way of an answer to the question you posed. Most of the article is quotes from Chu, with only a couple sentences about your thoughts. If you saw the footage, can you expound on it a bit more? WAS it worth the wait?

    • yea… I was thinking the same thing

      • How much can a publication bash a private event they were invited to by the studio? Read between the lines…

    • It sounds like the writer liked it, judging by the lines “They made it seem almost impossible that the film wasn’t designed for 3D”, and talking about another scene saying that it “looks great in 3D”.

      In any case, I’m still annoyed that they delayed it last minute for a 3D conversion, and I will see it in 2D so as to not support the studio exec’s idea that they can convert movies to 3D on a whim just so they can make more money.

  3. The fact that the entire 10 minute sequence between Snake Eyes and the Red Ninjas is completely silent gives me childhood goosebumps. This film is sounding like a very accurate interpretation of both GI Joe the cartoon and the comic books.

  4. Ok… I will still see it but I can not stress this enough. 3D adds a whole lot less to movies then people realize. Ive seen a couple of movie in both 2D and 3D and just about every time I questioned on whatI would be missing out on seeing it in 2D. The answer is… Other then some particle effects or CGI lines… I am missing out on nothing seeing it in 2D. i really hope people realize this soon.

    • @bio

      Alright, cool, so you don’t like 3D, so don’t watch 3D. Sounds simple enough to me. If I don’t feel like paying extra to watch something in 3D, I simply don’t watch it in 3D… We still (kind of) live in a free country I think…

    • Agree with u,and 3D is not the answer to what people really want,to emerge and be part of the action !

      3D is just a steping stone into the right direction,people want Holodecks like in star trek. they want to be in the movie,i think thats the final goal here !

  5. @bio Some people actually prefer the depth of field that 3D provides. For some it makes the movie more engrossing and it’s easier to get into the movie. For other flicks, its annoying I agree. But imagine how much better a movie like Inception would have been in 3D. Its one of my favorite already, but I think a 3D version of that movie would OWN.

    • I’ll put it this way. The only time I plan on seeing a 3D movie again is when Tron 3 comes out… A eye gasmic light show is one of the few time i will accept seeing a movie in 3D.

      • Tron 2 was terrible 3D, why would u see the third, the movie itself was bad also, and I’m the person that hates critics and says sit down and watch the movie, dont pay attention to little stuff, so if a movie is bad to me, thats pretty bad…

  6. i’m sure the 3-D will be amazing but i can’t get over the fact that they delayed the movie from a summer release and plan on releasing it where there is no competition around to challenge it.

    i don’t care what Chu says. Cause i heard test audiences were howling at the screen when they got a taste of this turkey last march.

  7. I agree with both Dane & Bio on this one. Honestly i think this movie will be just okay, not you know; exceptional or anything.

  8. well if nothing else at least it sounds like they put some effort into the conversion

  9. I’m really not sure what to say about this movie anymore. I was ready to see it last year for cheesy thrills, but then yanking it and saying it was purely for 3-D post production didn’t sit well with me. And while I’m a fan of when the movie theater gets deathly quiet for a moment to add affect, 10 minutes is a pretty long time to sit in silence. Especially for an entire action sequence when the score can play such a crucial role. I’ll have to see how I feel when March rolls around.

  10. I have A feeling the ninja fight is going to leave myself and everyone else dizzy. But I want to see this movie real bad.

  11. Can’t wait to see the silent ninja scene, I think that will fit perfectly

  12. I liked the first one, this is what i mean by people needing to sit down and watch the movie, dont go crazy over actors, story, etc. until the second or even third time through while watching it. The second one should be good, 3D or not, if its good in 3D – hopefully, took so long – than good for them, but not, WATCH THE 2D THEN! That simple, if the 3D sucks, not the movie, just watch it in 2D. Step up and Harry Potter have good 3D, I dunno bout this….

  13. It’s going to be a bad movie either way. So I don’t care.

  14. loved the first one cant wait for this!! bruce willis and the rock thats so ftw

  15. One of the first comic series I read and collected was Marvel’s G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. By far the issue I remember most is #21 (Silent Interlude) in which Storm Shadow kidnaps Scarlet to some castle in the mountains, and Snake-Eyes rescues her. There’s no dialog at all.

    I saw The Rise of Cobra in theaters and have watched it a couple of times on Netflix/TV. My opinion has dropped every time I’ve watched it. Nothing about the conversion/delay/reshoots have sounded promising at all, but this 10 minute silent scene has me so nostalgic for Silent Interlude that this is now a must see. I’m still not expecting a whole lot.

    • Am I one of the few people who liked Rise of Cobra? I thought it took your typical action (gun fight, martial art fight, car chase, airplane dogfight) and added even more over the topness to it.

      I also thought that they interpreted some of characters pretty well… I liked how they did the Baronness and Zartan.

      • I enjoyed Rise of Cobra reasonably well. I’ve even re-watched it a couple of times, which is unusual for me. Still, there were some things about it that I did not like, so I’m hoping that this new one uses that room to improve.

  16. Real 3D is a cool thing. But fake 3D is much worse (read: cheaper) than 2D. I have hope that this film will turn out well, both in its story and in the visual aspect. However, I will make every effort to see it in 2D if that’s an option, because I don’t want to play a part in reinforcing movie studios’ impressions that viewers will pay more for an inferior gimmick like post-conversion. If you feel compelled to do it in 3D, shoot it in 3D to begin with.

  17. I’m sorry, but I have no faith here. I grew up on the cartoon, and I consider the first film along the lines of heresy. Even today I’d rather watch the animated movie than the steaming pile of poo that was “Rise of Cobra.”

    And the fact that the director for this one’s accolades include “Step It Up” and a Justin Bieber concert doesn’t help in any way shape or form. However, sometimes directors have to start in the mud before being offered their “defining” opportunity.

    If this one works and erases the absolute travesty of “Rise of Cobra,” I’ll be giddy, and I’ll happily eat my words. But this is going to be a RedBox rental for me. No way I’m forking over $40 for two tickets and concessions on this film.

  18. It’s funny how all the talk has switched to the 3-D conversion process and there is still the matter of if the movie is actually any good.

  19. Having not known about the release date delay due to 3D conversion, and not a follower of G.I. Joe, I went to watch the movie in 3D with an unbiased opinion. Whilst watching I couldn’t help but try to work out if it actually was a 2D to 3D conversion. The mountain scene was very good however other scenes felt unnatural and artificial (as if you could tell it was supposed to be 2D). To be honest I think overall I would’ve preferred the 2D version. The movie itself was ok – much better than the first which I saw for the first time last week. New movie has it’s shortcomings however it was entertaining and more enjoyable than the first. 6/10.

  20. This movie was NOT good. I will never watch another chu ‘film’. Total WASTE OF FILM. Stick to Justin Bieber Documentaries Chu you can fake that sh*t but this is not your strong suit.