G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Rated PG-13 (Ha!)
1 hour, 58 minutes
Duke (Channing Tatum, She's the Man) is tasked with safeguarding a payload of nanomite warheads built by McCullen's (Christopher Eccleston, 28 Days Later) company M.A.R.S. The convoy is attacked by an advanced group of terrorists led by the Baroness (Sienna Miller, Stardust). Were it not for a mysterious band of heroes led by Heavy Duty (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, The Mummy Returns), the terrorists would have been successful. Duke and his buddy Ripcord (Marlon Wayans, Dungeons & Dragons) insist the warheads remain in their possession. They are escorted to General Hawk (Dennis Quaid, Vantage Point) at G.I. Joe headquarters.
Before I get started, let me clarify a few things. I was never a huge G.I. Joe fan as a kid. By the time my bus got home, I would catch the last half of Joe as I waited impatiently for Transformers, Thundercats, Voltron or whatever other cartoon alien show followed it. I had a handful of figures, but they usually got crushed under Optimus's tires. Then when I first saw the trailer for this movie, I expected this to be a steaming turd, rolled in powdered sugar and topped with dingleberries, that the studios were trying to shove down audiences' throats. If you caught last week's Trailer Trash, I insinuated that Marlon Wayans was going to be as annoying as a taint hair. Given these three pre-existing factors, you can imagine my surprise.
Serious Joe fans may be perturbed they changed a few of the characters' histories, but it worked well to tighten the expansive world into a more mentally digestible, though somewhat too convenient, story. The metal-munching nanomites may seem implausible, but no more so than a mission put on hold to allow two gung ho soldiers to complete a battery of tests to join the most elite fighting force in the world. The story marches doubletime, sparing audiences from getting bogged down in these shaky details.
I loved Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Brick) in his small role as The Doctor. I've always liked Dennis Quaid and Christopher Eccleston, and though I'm not a fan of Marlon Wayans, he gave one of the film's better performances...when he wasn't tap dancing for cheap laughs. However, watching his costar Channing Tatum was like pulling teeth. Stephen Hawking could have delivered lines with more emotion, charisma and far better timing. While I'm bitching, I got nothing against Jonathan Pryce (The Brothers Grimm), but would it have killed them to hire an American to play the U.S. President?! Mummy fans will be happy that director Stephen Sommers (Van Helsing) finds jobs for many of his old cast, such as Arnold Vosloo (Blood Diamond) as the douchey Zartan.
Audiences didn't sign on looking for riveting performances; they enlisted for the action and mayhem. G.I. Joe goes above and beyond the call of duty, and in my opinion, its PG-13 rating. I LOVE violent action films, but how is watching a woman stabbed through the chest, followed by a man skewered on a fork lift blade, and topped off with a unknown-soldier flambé kid friendly? Excessive gunfire, explosions and death are an exciting and commonplace elements in G.I. Joe, so don't be surprised.
Director Stephen Sommers (The Mummy) fills G.I. Joe with grandiose action sequences even if they all weren't up to visual snuff. The opening sequence is awesomely violent and spectacular; it really hooks you. The tour through the Pit and the accelerator suit chase, among others, look about as awesome as The Mummy's special effects. That would be cool if it were 1999, but it's 2009 and CGI is much, much improved. Watching characters traipse in front of flat, matted backgrounds was more than a little disappointing.
Watching Sienna Miller strut around in black leather was not the least disappointing. Well, there is that scene when she's rocking a low-cut, black leather jumpsuit, bedazzled like she was Britney Spears, as she heads into battle. Hugely impractical. Speaking of huge, you should check out Scarlett's (Rachel Nichols, Star Trek) big green eyes. You won't notice them since her boobs practically burst from every military issue outfit she wears.
The Money Shot
G.I. Joe is far more entertaining than expected. Thanks to some seriously lousy acting and piss-poor special effects, it never achieves awesomeness. Still, Sommers and his small army of writers manage to make the fantastical elements of G.I. Joe seem believable, if only marginally. Having it firmly declared a hit, expect to see G.I. Joe: Cobra Returns and G.I. Joe: Serpentor, the Cobra Emperor and the spin-off series The Cobra Commander.
Monday, August 10, 2009
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra