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· 118 minutes
Directed by Stephen Sommers
Written by Stuart Beattie, David Elliot
· Christopher Eccleston
· Joseph Gordon-Levitt
· Sienna Miller
· Dennis Quaid
· Ray Park
· Marlon Wayans
· Rachel Nichols
· Channing Tatum
· Byung-Hun Lee
· Arnold Vosloo
As if you couldn't tell from my alias here, I grew up on G. I. Joe, more specific the Real American Hero era, which started in the 1980's, Cobra Commander, Snake Eyes, the 'Silent Issue', etc. That stuff meant a lot to me growing up, and I can still look back on it in a haze of nostalgia and relive my childhood from time to time whenver I crack open a G. I. Joe comic or watch an old episode of the 80's cartoon. The 80's one, never the '90s continuation. That was just crap.
Anyways, when I heard that Paramount was bringing the classic toy line to life a year or so ago I looked at it like all things that are adaptations of comic books, toys, etc from my childhood, with fierce enthuiasm and even more fierce speculation and scorn at times. But I knew that even if it was the worst movie ever, and the trailers made it look to be 'Super suits...are you $%*$* kidding me?!) I knew that I'd be in the theater opening weekend, out of morbid curiousity if nothing else.
G. I . Joe: The Rise of Cobra, is a bit of a prequal of sorts to the series, as none of the characters and archetypes that we know and love as a child are not set in place yet. Duke (Channing Tatum- A Guide To Recgonizing Your Saints) isn't yet part of the team yet, Cobra's not even Cobra yet. What they are currently is James Mcmullen's (a.k.a. Destro, played by Dr. Who's Christopher Eccleston) army, powered by nano tech from the mysterious Doctor (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brick) who have a scheme to take over the world.
Duke and his best frend Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) get recruited into the Joe team because Duke has knowledge of the Baroness (Sienna Miller- Alfie), and after all knowing is half the battle. I'm not kidding, they actually use that line and a few others from the cartoon/toy line throughout the movie, to varying degrees of success. After a brief training montage we're soon off into non stop action as Storm Shadow (Byung-Hun Lee) and the Baroness attack the Joe headquarters in drill topped vehicles reminicent of the old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. And from this point on it's pretty much non stop action, with some flashbacks thrown in and more action cliches than you can shake a stick at. What's more classic than riding by your friend's funeral on a motorcylce in the rain?
It surprisingly all works for the most part. Script writers Stuart Beattie (Pirates of the Carribean: Curse of the Black Pearl), and David Elliot (Four Brothers), bring the toys to life in a real fun way. It's loud, noisy, and full of cliches, but at it's heart it's no worse than the original show ever was. The comic books had more depth to them, but the show was pretty bad, entertaining yes, but pretty horrible nonetheless.
Director Stephen Sommers (The Mummy) has his niche, and that is big, dumb, fun summer thrill rides that double as movies. He's like a more fun Michael Bay, if that's possible. The whole movie is a blast, it's a ride, and it actually mostly makes sense, unlike the latest Transformers movie.
Now, the acting is some of the worst I've ever seen in a movie, Dennis Quaid doesn't really have a lot to do in his role as General Hawk but spout off inspirational speeches and a few other lines of dialogue, but he at least makes for a believable leader. Channing Tatum, who once showed promise in A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints is absolutely horrible in this movie. I don't know what accent he has normally, but it sounded here as if he was channeling Mark Wahlberg the entire time, was just waiting for him to tell someone to say hi to their mother for him..
Ray Park also has his niche, and that's mostly silent characters that kick all kinds of ass, and he does a great job with that here. His fights with Storm Shadow are some of the highlights of the movie.
I admit I was most curious of Joseph Gordon Levitt's being cast in this movie as the not yet Cobra Commander. Despite his acting roles since then all I could think was, the freakin Third Rock kid is supposed to be Cobra Commander? Seriously? But he actually did a pretty good job in this movie, playing a more sinister Cobra leader then we've seen in the past incarnations. His origin story sucks, but the character has never had a good origin story to go with him. In the past he's been alternatley an ex used car salesman, or a mutated snake man from Cobra-La. His origin story in this movie is pretty lame, and his name is too. Who's named Rex, really?
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra brings the toys to life in a way that feels like you're watching a visualised, stylised version of a story you might make up while playing with your friends and your toys growing up. That's the mental image I had with this movie, and if you look at it from that aspect and just take it for what it is you should have a great time with this movie. The dialogue is pretty bad at times, I actually laughed out loud at least twice to a horrible line of dialogue, but for the most part the movie's a big, dumb, fun ride.
The whole Snake Eyes/Scarlett relationship is put on the back burner here, for them trying to hook her up with Marlon Wayan's character, which I didn't like so much as a fan. And speaking as a long time fan, why the hell did Snake Eyes' costumehave freaking lips? He doesn't talk, the lips don't move, that was a useless and dumb addition to the movie. It was cool though, to see his all white alternate snow outfit (the second movie I've seen this year with a character with an alternate snow outfit).
The climactic underwater action sequence was awesome as well, despite it feeling like it was channeled from the last Star Wars movie, but put underwater. I was waiting for someone to yell, 'It's a trap!', but that didn't happen.
When the movie's over, G. I . Joe is set up fully, Cobra has risen, and I'm all set for another ride in this world that Sommers has brought to life. It's a lot better movie than it deserves to be, not to say that it's a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it is the most fun I've had at the movies this summer. If you've got kids, you're probably going to be forced to see this. But the good news is, it's not that bad, it's actually pretty entertaining.. Till next time, be sure to keep it Reel..