You had us at ninjas. Action fans will be treated to a four-minute 3D preview of "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" in advance of Paramount and MGM's "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters," opening in theaters this Friday.
The first-look footage features Joe specialist Snake Eyes (Ray Park) facing off against Cobra nemesis Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) in an extended Himalayan action sequence involving throwing stars, machine gun fire, a mountain-top blade battle and a legion of scarlet-clad ninjas. It's a cliff-hanger. Literally.
"Retaliation" is the follow-up to 2009's "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra," based on Hasbro's popular 1980s toy line, comic book and cartoon series, and adds Dwayne Johnson, Bruce Willis and Adrianne Palicki to the team's ranks, as well as returning star Channing Tatum.
The preview also shows off the movie's 3D post-conversion. Originally shot on film in traditional 2D and slated to hit theaters last summer, Paramount made the last-minute decision to push back the release date to 2013 in order to give "Retaliation" a full 3D makeover.
"It was shocking." says director Jon M. Chu. "But at the same time, we had long conversations with the studio like, 'If we're going to do this, we need the time to do it right. We can't rush it.'"
For Chu, who already had two 3D features under his belt, the ten-month delay was the opportunity to go back and create the 3D "Joe" movie he'd been subconsciously shooting all along.
"When we were shooting, we were also like, 'Dang! 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."
"Turns out," adds producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, "Jon shot a movie that is very conducive to 3D."
At first glance, Chu might not have been fans' first choice to helm the "G.I. Joe" sequel. He is best known for his work on dance-centric projects, including two "Step Up" movies, the Justin Bieber concert film "Never Say Never," and the dance adventure web series "The LXD." di Bonaventura explains that it was Chu's lifelong love of "G.I. Joe" that made him the right person for the job.
"Jon came to the table with a great advantage: these were mythology and characters he took very seriously, and that passion was evident."
Chu says that this is a "G.I. Joe" movie for every generation. "We wanted to take cartoon stuff, the comic book stuff, the toy stuff, the old school action figure stuff, and say we have a piece of all of those because the "G.I. Joe" brand is all of those things... we wanted to bring all of them together."
The preview footage, which is part of a longer ten-minute Himalaya action sequence, is partially inspired by the classic 1984 "G.I. Joe" comic book story "Silent Interlude," and is told entirely without spoken dialogue. The homage is the kind of detail Chu hopes fellow fans will appreciate -- the essence of the "G.I. Joe" he loved as a kid.
"I just don't want to disappoint my 12-year-old self."
Watch the theatrical trailer for 'G.I. Joe: Retaliation":