F. Gary Gray, Jon Chu Top Picks To Direct <i>G.I. Joe</i> Sequel

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra defied expectations so long as you dialed yours down before walking into the movie. It wasn't hard, though. The ad campaign didn't paint a pleasant picture. The result was a far better thing -- a fun, fan-serving adventure filled with cool vehicles and big explosions, which is really what G.I. Joe is there for in the first place.

So count me excited for the sequel, which Paramount is looking at for a 2012 release. The studio is also looking at potential directors, and The Hollywood Reporter has word on what it says are the two top choices: Friday director F. Gary Gray and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never director Jon Chu.

Yes, I absolutely did do a double-take when I saw that headline. It's a weird pairing of talents. THR says the Joe sequel is a "high priority" for Paramount, and that a June 2012 release is being sought. If that seems like a quick turnaround for such an effects-heavy movie, that's because it is. Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura has met with "a number of directors" recently, and the word is that Chu and Gray are the top contenders.

Gray is obviously the more geek-friendly pick, having directed The Italian Job, The Negotiator, Law Abiding Citizen and, of course, Friday. That said, he's an older fellow, born in 1969, well before the heyday of the G.I. Joe franchise. Chu, on the other hand, directed the two Step-Up sequels before the Bieber movie. He is not the obvious geek-friendly choice, though his low 30-something age makes him more likely to have been a fan growing up.

And frankly, that's what this franchise needs -- someone who understands the original cartoon series, maybe the comic books, too. Rise of Cobra got it almost right, and it was a rocking good time. If it's done right, the sequel could definitely hit it big, especially with the groundwork laid by its predecessor.

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