2/23/2011

Me thinks Jon Chu has the GI Joe sequel gig locked up

When it was announced that Stephen Sommers would not be returning to the GI Joe franchise he helped kick off back in 2009, a few oddball choices were mentioned as the top contenders to replace him. I personally didn't think Sommers did all that bad of a job, but there was definitely some room for improvement. Jaume Collet-Sera(Unknown), F. Gary Gray(The Italian Job), and Jon Chu(Justin Bieber: Never Say Never) were mentioned as the favorites. Out of those three, Chu seemed to be the least likely, having only so far directed two of the Step Up flicks before the Bieber concert flick.  Movieweb had a chance to talk to the director recently and asked him a number of questions about what his approach to a GI Joe sequel would be, and by his answers I've come to the conclusion he's got this job sewn up....
With your background in dance and choreography, what kind of fight scenes can we expect to see between Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes in G.I. Joe 2?
Jon M. Chu: (Laughs) I am up for a lot of projects right now. But if I got Joe, I would feel extremely blessed and very happy. That would be really awesome. But, you know? It is a far-fetched dream right now. For me? I grew up with Joe. I loved Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Joe. I think we've been waiting for the Joe movie that we've always wanted, but have never gotten. I think there is an opportunity to do that. For me, with dance and choreography, it's about a love of movement. I am not a dancer myself. I like to dance. But I am not a dancer. I think movement tells the story. Whether it is John Wayne standing on the porch, or leaning on something, and then he puts his hands in his pockets. Movement can communicate so much. I feel like using movement in a story, especially in terms of action, you can do a lot with that. If I were ever lucky enough to get that, it would be pretty awesome.

There was more news out today about the sequel, and your name has popped up quite a bit. I saw that, and I was thinking that your style would fit perfectly for some of the heavier fight scenes. As it is a movie geared towards younger teenagers and kids, you can't make it extremely violent. But your use of choreography would certainly keep it interesting to watch.

Jon M. Chu: It could be that way. But the one thing I felt was missing from the last Joe movie was the power of the punch. You want Joe to be tough. They are fun, but they are tough. I feel that you don't want to make Joe too kidsie. That is one of the issues they are having. But yeah, I would have so much fun. There are so many cool characters to play with.

What is exactly going on with G.I. Joe 2 right now? You've been in talks to directing, right?

Jon M. Chu: It is up to them right now. I have talked to them before. I am just sort of in it right now, waiting to see what happens.

Being a fan of the property, what do you hope to see out of G.I. Joe 2?

Jon M. Chu: I am trying to figure that out right now. I have a bunch of stuff written down. I have done a bunch of drawings and things. We'll have to see where that goes. Joe, to me, is iconic. It is as American as Coke and the Boy Scouts. To have that kind of history in a brand is so rare these days. And that is so powerful. So you can't treat Joe like its just another action movie. You can't treat Joe as just another petty commercial movie. Joe has history. Joe has always been a part of what America is, and now the world. What it means to be a leader and a hero. For me, it is about the fun stuff like Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes, and all the gadgets. All of that stuff. But it has heart. Its heart is what America, and what heroes and leaders around the world, strive to be. I think that is what the brand needs. It needs the respect to be treated in that way.

It sounds to me like Chu has already had some pretty thorough conversations with Paramount about how to tackle the film, going on about their problems figuring out how to balance the obvious need for violence while keeping the movie open to kids. That's always been an issue for GI Joe, even back in the days of the 1980s cartoon, which is why you got COBRA soldiers getting shot in the gun all the time but nobody actually getting hurt.

While I've been openly hoping for F. Gary Gray to get the job, I have to admit I like the way Chu thinks. He's an old school Joe fan and recognizes that while the first film was generally liked by fans, there's room to give them even more of what they want and still maintain the already established tone. He even makes a pretty compelling case for his choreography experience being an asset. 

I'd like to hear what Gray and Collet-Serra's take on a GI Joe sequel would be. Maybe we should reach out to them?