Jon M. Chu Promises Gritty G.I. Joe 2 and No 3-D Conversion
As soon as Paramount selected Jon M. Chu (Step Up 2 the Streets, Step Up 3D, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never) to direct their upcoming G.I. Joe sequel, the filmmaker faced the uphill battle of changing the perception that he was just a dance movie guy. But in a new interview, the helmer goes long on his love for the property, explains his vision for the sequel, corrects Rachel Nichols' Tweet that certain characters might not return, and vehemently swears that he'd rather make a 2-D film than convert to 3-D in post.
On his lifelong love for all things Joe:
"I was always a fan of Joe. I grew up with Joe. I had all the toys and I had epic adventures -- they'd be burned, they'd be in mud, they'd be hidden in the couch. I loved them. I'm convinced I learned the beginning of my storytelling from playing with toys, no doubt. And it's hard for me to put down any filmmaker's work because I know how hard it is to make a movie, and I never want to do that; just to be able to get it done is an incredible feat in itself. But there's something about G.I. Joe that has history, that has a soul, and there's very few brands have a soul. Like the Boy Scouts has something to do with America, even Mickey Mouse, even Apple has a soul to it. And Joe has a soul. And I've never felt like I've had a movie of Joe of where I can taste my childhood right there."
On drawing on his childhood to pitch Paramount on a gritty, "totally different" sequel:
"There's a reality to Joe, there's like a grittiness to Joe; when I would burn them and their arm would fall off, the story would revolve around the guy whose arm fell off. It was about how each figurine had their own special accessory that was a part of their identity... It was always that detail, that grittiness that I feel like if Joe had it in there, it would be a totally different movie and have a totally different feel. So I approached them about what that would be like, and they loved the idea. And they had a script that was close, and we're going now in and making it the way it should be. And the script they have is really good, actually, so we now want to build in a few more things that will make it even better."
On Rachel Nichols' (Scarlett) March Tweet about which characters would and would not be returning in the sequel:
"I guess one of the actors tweeted that, 'Oh, a bunch of these people aren't going to be in it,' but I just got on the project so I don't know where she is getting her information. I know that I want to give a new attitude to this movie, and I don't know what that entails, but we're in it now so we'll find out, I guess."
Chu would like to film G.I. Joe 2 in 3-D, which would likely look amazing given his knack for making images pop and flair for filming choreographed movements. But if that's not possible, given the choice between post-conversion and 2-D, he'd rather forgo 3-D altogether.
"I really want to do it in 3-D, but the decision hasn't been made yet. A lot of factors go into that, which I think it's good to have a big discussion about. I think it's going to be perfect for it, but there are other factors that are built into it -- how it slows you down, things like that. But I could try some other things if it wasn't in 3-D; it would change my whole view of how I would make this movie, so we're trying to figure it out. But if we do it in 3-D, there's no way in hell I am dimensionalizing it. I mean, dimensionalizing can work if you have the time and you have the money. But studios don't want to put in the time or the money, so what's the point? There always going to shortcut you, so why put yourself there?"
All of the above only inspires more confidence in Chu's G.I. Joe, but then I'm already a supporter of his work. Say what you will about Step Up 3D's writing and dramatic performances, but it remains one of the best examples of the past few years of 3-D technology used well. (You haven't seen the best of contemporary hip-hop dance cinema until you've seen his web series The LXD, which coincidentally hits DVD this week.)
So what say you hardcore Joe fans -- can you give this unproven action director points for enthusiasm and his 3-D purist convictions?
· Jon Chu On G.I. Joe: 'Do Not Let My Inexperience Be The Thing That Holds This Movie Back [Box Office Magazine]