Thursday, November 5, 2009


G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra
2009, Paramount Pictures
DVD and Blu Ray
4 out of 10.

As a child consumer of the 1980's, a little bit my soul whithers and dies every time I hear that Hollywood is grinding yet another one of my beloved boyhood cartoon shows/toy lines into a fine, powdery feature length film. As with the utterly awful Transformers movies, the Hollywood threshing machine has turned it's sights on Hasbro's other hot toy property from the '80's (other than My Little Pony, that is): G.I. Joe. Of course being the fan of the cartoon, toys and comics that I was when I was a child, duty compelled me to see G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

If you go into this film with your mind made-up that G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is going to be the worst movie you will ever see in your life (and for this, I would recommend either Frozen Assets or Eden Log), you may be pleasantly surprised to realize that Joe is only moderately mediocre. It's markedly better than Transformers 2 (which also came-out last summer), easier to take than a car trip with your boss, and much more pleasant than a small dog humping your leg. Like making a meal out of cotton candy, G.I. Joe is big on presentation, but virtually evaporates upon consumption.

The plot, as far as I could understand it, goes something like this: Arms dealer James McCullen (Chris Eccelston) seeks to avenge a centuries-old grudge against his family (ancestor issues, anyone?) by building intricate weapons systems, selling them to industrialized governments and then stealing them back with the help of a murky mercenary squad which, if you didn't figure-out when seeing them on-screen for the first time, will become (SPOILER ALERT!) Cobra. Oh, and McCullen really hates France.

Luckily for the World, there's G.I. Joe, a (now) international military strike team at the ready to thwart this tech-savvy, pre-Cobra menace (it's fair to say that the Joe's hate France as much as McCullen does, judging by what they later do to Paris). We meet Joe members Scarlet (Rachel Nichols), Heavy Duty (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and Snake Eyes (Ray Park, who is blessed with absolutely no lines of dialog what-so-ever) the way our main protagonist Army grunts Duke (Channing Tatum) and his best buddy-in-arms Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) do: with guns a-blazing!

Duke and Ripcord, you see, are charged with delivering weapon's manufacturer McCullen's nano-warheads to the U.N. (?!?) when they are ambushed by the sultry Baroness (Sienna Miller) and her puffed-up battalion of gimp-masked, laser-rifle toting thugs. With their platoon all but wiped out, Duke and Ripcord are rescued by the Joes, but not before Duke is able to identify the Baroness as his old flame, Ana, whose brother, Rex (Joseph Gorden-Levitt), was killed in action alongside Duke several missions earlier, thus breaking-off Ana and Duke's engagement (you following all of this so far?) Soon Duke and Ripcord are full-fledged Joe's under the command of General Hawk (Dennis Quaid), who trains our heroes at the Joe's under-sand, multi-tiered fun-bunker, The Pit, in Egypt.

Why Egypt? It may have something to do with director Stephen Sommers' (the Mummy Trilogy - *blah*) having sand on the brain. Who knows?

You get the idea Sommers hopes you aren't paying close attention to his movie. Along with this convoluted plot, he gives us an evil ninja so brazen he wears all white, ice burgs that fall to the ocean floor, the destruction of the Eiffel Tower, a U.S. president played by a Brit (Jonathan Pryce), and more continuity goofs than an IMDB member can shake an empty Mountain Dew bottle at. And if this isn't enough, how about (c)ramming every G.I. Joe jingoism in the 'verse into this flick: "Realistic hair," "Real Kung Fu grip," "Knowing's half the battle," and the famous battle cry "Yo Joe!" All delivered at odd times, and spoken as if to make you feel slightly embarrassed for the actors saying them. "Cobra!", indeed.

Of course, by the end, you realize that the entire movie you have just digested has been played as a sort of prologue for sequels to come (oh, you know they will!) At least Sommers has spared us the sequel-as-prequel formula inundating lousy action movies as of late (I'm looking at you, Underworld franchise), so there's that.

All-in-all, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra isn't that bad ...for a big, dumb action movie that has more in common with science fiction than military fact, that is. I've seen worse. And so have you, since I'm assuming you saw Highlander 2: The Quickening. Still, I couldn't help thinking that I've seen G.I. Joe done better, with a better storyline, more action and more imagination. Hmm, when was that?

Oh yeah! It was when I was slightly more immature than I am now, playing with my G.I. Joe toys!

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