Madness at the Movies: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

“Long story short, G.I. Joe won’t win any awards for its script, acting, or special effects.  Unlike Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, it knows it’s a stupid movie and never pretends to be anything but.  Paramount was right not to have preview screenings for the movie because, despite the negative buzz that created, the number of people who can’t get past the sheer absurdity of the film would have surely led to a ton of negative review.  The film is good though – it’s a hell of a lot of big explosive fun, and, save for a decent amount of profanity, the type of film any young boy would absolutely fall head over heels in love with.  Definitely worth catching on the big screen, just make sure you go in a good mood, and turn your brain off at the door.”

Read my full review by clicking the graphic below!

gi-joe-the-rise-of-cobra-6-1024A couple of years back, my buddy Nathan and I had a dream.  To help us get back into writing, as a writing exercise, we would work on a script for a G.I. Joe movie, because we loved G.I. Joe so much as kids.  Well, we started an outline and dream casting, and, before you knew it, we had a sprawling three-movie epic, where the final battle, an assault on the Terror Dome, was won by the sacrifice of Tunnel Rat, who stayed behind to detonate some kind of bomb.  Ha…yeah.

Anyway, despite feeling like it was written by someone who surely wanted to appeal to the child in all of us, G.I. Joe The Rise of Cobra was also written by someone who, apparently, decided that the original mythology just would not work for the big screen.  Some back stories are kept intact, but a good majority are changed and, even more, sometimes whole characters are the same characters in name only and wholly different in the movie than we’re used to.  But that’s just a bit of the purist in me speaking – if you’re the type of person who can’t get past changes to the characters you may have grown up with (and, honestly, if you like The Dark Knight, how can you not?), you’re going to find a lot to hate in this film.  If you can get past that, though, you’re in for a good time.

MILD SPOILERS ON FROM HERE ON OUT.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Channing Tatum as Duke in the film is not the Duke we know and love, but more of a rough and tumble soldier.

So, months ago, we posted a script review of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra that we were asked to take down by Paramount.  Ultimately, 90% of that script made it to the final cut of Rise of Cobra, with mostly small changes made to certain scenes to fit more in line with existing mythology.  What’s interesting is that, despite being incredibly stupid on paper, the film works on screen.  Sure, it’s still stupid – it’s ALL kinds of stupid – but that works for the film rather than against it.  It’s a big, loud, stupid movie that doesn’t pretend to be anything but, and ultimately ends up being 2 hours of roller coaster fun.

I won’t go too deep into story details – for as stupid of a film as this is, it would take forever to describe the plot.  Basically, an arms dealer (Destro) has perfected a nanomite warhead that eats metal, and someone is trying to steal it.  Duke and Ripcord are charged with transporting it for NATO, they get attacked, G.I. Joe comes in and saves the day, and Duke and Rip basically join the team to get to the bottom of the attack.

In the films 118 minute run time, you’re probably looking at about 18 minutes worth of footage that doesn’t involve shooting, laser guns, explosions, or car chases – the film is THAT busy.  There’s always something going on – even conversations and plotting are never done with the same folks in the room or on the phone.  That would be too easy – rather, it’s all done via lifelike holograms so that it looks like everyone is in the same room, until they start flickering and disappearing.  There is nothing that’s done “little” in this film – every scene is flooded with CGI and action.

Oddly enough, the whole time, I was reminded of two films while watching G.I. Joe: The Rise of CobraStar Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and Masters of the Universe.  When you see Neo Vipers storm across a grassy field shooting lasers at American soldiers, you either turn off your brain quickly, or risk hating the next hour and forty minutes of your life.  I know it’s odd to compare an earth-bound film to The Phantom Menace, but not really.  There’s so much aerial combat, and combat underwater with hundreds of ships, that you’ll think you’re watching a movie set in the outer reaches of space where these kinds of things are possible.  Which I think was the point – create a Star Wars film, but set on Earth.  I wouldn’t doubt that we could see a space battle in the sequel, were one to happen.  And, as for the comparison to Masters of the Universe, I venture to say the films have the same feel to me.  They’re big-screen cartoons and, again unlike Transformers, kind of embrace that notion and all the absurdity that comes with it.

G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra
Sienna Miller as the Baronness is one of the shining moments of the movie.

The cast does pretty well, given the CHEESY dialogue they’re given.  Much praise will go to Sienna Miller as Baronness, and rightfully so.  She eats up every scene she’s in.  Ray Park as Snake Eyes did a great job, but, honestly, despite the fact that, yes, Snake Eyes does kick @$$ in the film, everyone is so super powered either by weapon or accelerator suit (which weren’t as bad as I thought, thankfully), that his bad @$$-edness is a little lost.  When everyone is bad @$$, Snake just feels like another member of the team – the reason he became so popular was because he could do things no one else could.  The weak points in the casting I would say are Dennis Quaid (man, was he drunk the entire time?) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as “The Doctor” – it was just TOO hammed up for my tastes.  There are two pretty cool cameos, including one you probably already know about, and one you may not but was uber-cool, if you’re a fan of Stephen Sommers movies.

Ultimately, the film does end being a little limiting.  If you like big dumb fun (and I do mean DUMB) and enjoyed the cartoon, you’ll find much to like about the film.  However, I have a hard time believing Joe Moviegoer can get past the cartoony-ness after being fed films like Transformers and Bourne Identity-style action flicks for so long to truly appreciate a fun, loud film like G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra.  Expect big returns this weekend, and probably a steep decline in its second weekend.

I could go on talking all dat about the movie, but long story short, G.I. Joe won’t win any awards for its script, acting, or special effects.  Unlike Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, it knows it’s a stupid movie and never pretends to be anything but.  Paramount was right not to have preview screenings for the movie because, despite the negative buzz that created, the number of people who can’t get past the sheer absurdity of the film would have surely led to a ton of negative review.  The film is good though – it’s a hell of a lot of big explosive fun, and, save for a decent amount of profanity, the type of film any young boy would absolutely fall head over heels in love with.  Definitely worth catching on the big screen, just make sure you go in a good mood, and turn your brain off at the door.

Awesomeness Score - 7Paul’s Awesomeness Score – 7 out of 10!

1 comment on “Madness at the Movies: G.I. Joe: The Rise of CobraAdd yours →

  1. In “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,” released in 2009, the world was in danger because of a substance called nanomite that could be put on the head of nuclear warheads, allowing them to melt metal and cause more destruction. The plan to launch a set of nuclear warheads was thwarted, but apparently, not for good. In 2012’s “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” the nanomite-laced warheads are back. Only this time, the nefarious shadow group called Cobra plans to use a new program to induce global domination with the nukes. They don’t care how many lives they have to take, and they blow up the entire city of London to prove that they mean business. ,;

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