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Tag Archive: Atomic Man


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Half animated film come to life, half martial arts movie, in G.I. Joe: Retaliation look for one of the best action sequences ever to hit the big screen.  Darker and more grounded in the realities of today’s terrorism themed movies as opposed to the days of action war pictures centered on the Cold War, the sequel to G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra is only slightly less fun than the first live-action look at the action figure-turned-animated show and comic book-turned-action figure again franchise.  Whereas Rise of Cobra was steeped in toy references and faithful action figure costume re-creations, Retaliation has a plot that could have been pulled from the 1980s animated series.

G.I. JOE: RETALIATION

After a disaster caused by a conspiracy between Zartan and the evil shadow organization called Cobra wipes out literally every active G.I. Joe but three, it’s up to new top ranking officer Roadblock, played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to lead the charge to unravel the conspiracy and save the world.  He’s joined in a superbly created, fast-thinking survival maneuver by Flint (D.J. Cotrona) and Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki), who must then find their way out of a deep water well.  Despite being developed characters from G.I. Joe incarnations past, Flint comes off a bit like Hawkeye in The Avengers and Lady Jaye as the token female Joe in an era you’d think would be long past relying on jokes about women in the service.  Still, they both make the best of it and the trio, along with Duke (Channing Tatum), the squad leader of the Joes in Rise of Cobra, they share some good chemistry and laugh out loud moments in the film.  If there is any fault in Retaliation it is why the producers thought the plot required eliminating such a pantheon of other great Joe characters who were featured in Rise of Cobra, like Scarlett (Rachel Nichols), Baroness (Sierra Miller), Ripcord (Marlon Wayans), Heavy Duty (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), or General Hawk (Dennis Quaid).  It’s also a bit disappointing Bruce Willis’s General Joe Colton didn’t have a few more scenes.  Willis, transitioning from action role to the wise general role, steals every scene and a partnership with Dwayne Johnson in another film, G.I. Joe or not, would be a fun thing to see.

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This may be the ultimate blast from the past.

Over the past three years there was talk about Stretch Armstrong, the movie.  Universal Studios signed a deal with Hasbro to create a film about Armstrong based on a screenplay written by Nicholas Stoller, the writer who co-wrote The Muppets film from last year, in addition to Get Him to the Greek, which starred current Oscar nominee Jonah Hill.  In February 2010, Universal Studios announced Taylor Lautner would star as Armstrong and that the film would be made in 3-D.   Blockbuster producer Brian Grazer even said he’d signed on to make the film.  Over time, this was believed to be part of a handful of films pitched for Kenner and ex-Milton Bradley toys and games, to include Clue, Ouija, Magic, the Gathering, Candy Land and Battleship, which actually is a sci-fi movie making it to the screens this May.

Yesterday, Relativity Media bought the rights to the Stretch Armstrong live-action film, after Universal Studios backed out on the project.  And they announced even better news: Taylor Lautner will now NOT be in the movie.

You don’t know Stretch Armstrong?  Stretch Armstrong was an action figure that kids played with alongside their Six Million Dollar Man, Atomic Man, and 12-inch scale G.I. Joes in the mid to late 1970s.  Only where G.I. Joe had life-like hair, Stretch had life-like skin.  And he had weight and mass, as he was filled with… corn syrup.  And he stretched–stretched from 15 inches long to 5 feet.  Of the 40,000 or so original Stretches made, it is expected that most didn’t make it very far beyond Christmas 1976.  Although I witnessed my cousins stretch theirs until he snapped and oozed goo all over their refrigerator, it is estimated by some Stretch experts that roughly 200 remain intact, preserved in their styrofoam “preservation chamber”–in their original boxes.

You couldn’t really play with Stretch outside if you wanted him to live to see another day.  You couldn’t parachute him from the tree like G.I. Joe.  And you couldn’t put him in covert combat gear, as the Joe clothes wouldn’t fit him.  Stretch only wore his wrestling shorts.  And compared to any other figure, he was badass–he was taller and bigger than his counterpart fighting men.  Oh… and he stretched.

In fact stretching was the point.  He came with a plastic sheet to guide you and a friend in how far you could stretch him without snapping.   Could you get a lot of play out of such a fragile toy?  You bet!  As long as he stomped around like the Hulk or the Thing, he did just fine.  But invite the crappy neighbor kid over who didn’t take care of his toys and it was goodbye, Stretch!

So now, 36 years later.  A movie is in its initial stages of production.  So what the heck could it be about?  Between 2008 and 2010 it was rumored that Jackie Chan had made a play for the film, with Chan as the star.  Then Lautner replaced that idea.

The fact is there are tons of places the story could go, and you need only look to a few cousins who also were made into Stretch versions similar to Stretch Armstrong: Elastic Plasticman and Stretch Mr. Fantastic.  Plasticman is of course the DC Comics humorous, sunglasses-wearing, stretchy superhero from the Justice League, and Mr. Fantastic, the serious scientist leader of Marvel Comics’  Fantastic Four.  DC Comics’ other stretching superhero, Elongated Man, never was made into the Stretch series.  But certainly these guys could inspire some ideas for Stretch Armstrong.

   

One of the rare concepts of Stretch Armstrong was that he was at his heyday in the years of these first action figure properties, yet Stretch had no backstory.  So there really are no limits to what you could do with a Stretch storyline.  Ideally the actor to play Stretch would be built like Lou Ferrigno (who played The Incredible Hulk, which was made into a Stretch Hulk).  Is Lou the guy to play the role?  Probably not now, but maybe, if you’re looking for similar looks, someone who looks more like Sam J. Jones, who played Flash in Flash Gordon.  Or better yet, how about someone who could fit the size of a Stretch Armstrong and who has played several light-hearted and mega action roles, and is currently still a big draw in theaters?  Who?  Dwayne Johnson, of course.  Formerly “The Rock.”  Johnson has had roles that have spanned all types of genres, stuff for kids like Race to Witch Mountain, to cool roles in the remake of Walking Tall, Get Smart, and Be Cool, to megahits like Scorpion King.  And better yet, he has a new film coming called Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and the can’t-wait-for-it-to-get-here G.I. Joe: Retaliation.

With yesterday’s announcement by Relativity Media, hopefully we’ll start to hear more about their plans for this character soon, and no doubt we’ll see some re-releases of the stretchy action man himself.

Stretch Armstrong is now scheduled to appear in theaters in April 2014.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

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