GI Joe: Retaliation (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Paramount’s a pretty timely studio when it comes to 4K Ultra-HD upgrades. If you have a franchise you like or a film that’s getting remade, they probably have a 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray release ready to go around the time it comes out. With the new GI Joe film Snake Eyes out in theaters, it was high time to get those former entries into the mixer for 4K goodness. Oddly no new Atmos track or bonus features here, so you’ll have to float on whether you think the new transfer alone will do it. This review will cover 2013’s Jon M. Chu directed sequel, GI Joe: Retaliation, which puts the whole Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson “franchise Viagra” theory to the test. That arrives with the preceding film, GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra, on 4K Ultra-HD Blur-ay July 20th. You can land yourself copy of this one by using the paid Amazon Associates link below.


In the continuing adventures of the G.I. Joe team, Duke (Channing Tatum), second-in-command Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), and the rest of the Joes (D.J. Cotrona, Lee Byung-hun) face a two-fold threat. Not only is their mortal enemy COBRA rearing its ugly head again, but there is also a threat from within the U.S. government: There might be an impostor in the White House. Meanwhile, Snake Eyes (Ray Park) is on a search for inner peace but learns that his nemesis, Storm Shadow, is still alive.

GI Joe: Retaliation tries to move itself in a different direction with its sequel, but seems to not realize the material itself is just silly no matter how serious you try and swing it. Jon M. Chu is an interesting director to bring to the table for this. He does manage to put on a show with some fun choreographed ninja sequences. Unfortunately its not enough for a movie that just has heroes in hiding, and some more hiding and then some more hiding.

The film wants to test the Dwayne Johnson theory about him being about to revitalize a film franchise by being in the sequel or reboot. And there are plenty of cases where that’s true. This ain’t it. Its not that he’s not giving it his all. Unlike this film big trump card, Bruce Willis. This is one of his last big blockbusters in the theater and he visibly yawns his way to the bank. His first action sequence, he’s literally laying in the back of truck shooting a machine.

I’m not very big on GI Joe: Retaliation and that’s pretty obvious. But I will point out that there’s a snowy mountain ninja action sequence in this film that’s pretty good. And I’ll always enjoy The RZA hamming it up. But, this movie never really feels urgent, makes the mistake of writing out Channing Tatum super early, while bringing virtually none of the original cast back in favor of what we have here. It never has the fun, never embraces the silliness in turn to be “more serious” and plenty mediocre.


Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are taken from the standard Blu-ray disc, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail:  GI Joe: Retaliation comes to 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray like its predecessor, a 4K upscale from a 2K digital intermediate. There are some improvements in clarity, color, texture and detail. But like that other one, it isn’t a really significant hike in quality. I can see it looking better, but its nothing wowing and those not really home theater savvy I don’t think it would matter enough to jump at an upgrade so quickly.

Depth:  The upgrade here does improve depth a bit. Characters are a little more free in the frame an the background a little more pushed back. Movements are smooth and natural with no motion distortion issues.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and improved here to natural levels. No information is lost in any dark areas. No crushing witnessed on this viewing.

Color Reproduction: Colors are pretty well saturated and there’s a bit more nuance and tint to them compared to the standard Blu-ray. HDR is applied to explosions, fire, lighting and displays.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and feature a consistent look from start to finish. Facial features and textures are plenty visible from any given view in frame. Even the fake tans!

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.


Audio Format(s): English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, English Audio Description, German 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Latin America) 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, French (Canada) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Italian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Russian 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Cantonese, Danish, German, Spanish, Spanish (Latin America), French, French (Canada), Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Dutch, Norwegian, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Simplified Chinese, Finnish, Swedish, Thai

Dynamics: GI Joe: Retaliation carries over its 7.1 track found on the standard Blu-ray disc. It does play around speaker to speaker with some solid precision. Its not experimental, but it is accurate with good layering, depth and balance in the mix. Its surprising they didn’t bump this to an Atmos, but alas, the 7.1 is terrific and simulates pretty good.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: The usual gunshots, explosions, zaps, crashes and such get a good punch from the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation:  There are some fun moments around the room, but this one likes to go big and be its most boisterous up front. There are some solid moments of ambiance and big blazing action where everything works in concert.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.


GI Joe: Retaliation comes with the standard Blu-ray version and a redeemable digital code. Aside from the commentary, all bonus materials are found on the standard Blu-ray disc.

Audio Commentary

  • By Director Jon M. Chu and Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura

GI Joe: Declassified (HD, 1:12:56)

Deleted Scenes (HD, 3:59)


GI Joe: Retaliation is a reaction to the predecessor’s critical drubbing and box office disappointment. Unfortunately the direction they turn doesn’t act as well as that first film. It comes to 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray with an upconvert that is fine but not too earth shatter to recommend a day 1 purchase. Extras are the same. If you’re wanting to upgrade (It is indeed an improvement, regardless), wait until the price comes down to a nice discounted rate.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link


Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com). He is also the Moderator/MC of the Live Podcast Stage and on the Podcast Awards Committee for PopCon (popcon.us). In the past 10 years at Why So Blu, Brandon has amassed over 1,500 reviews of 4K, Blu-ray and DVD titles.

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