G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra (2009) Review

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Thinking is half the battle.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra: 7 out of 10: I think I may have liked this movie less had I not recently sat through the two-and-a-half hour opus that is Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. GI Joe is like Transformers with a coherent plot and a half an hour of stupid removed. (Notice I said half an hour not all.) First, let us get the ugly out of the way. GI Joe is no longer “A Real American Hero” instead it is a group of foreigners led by Dennis Quaid and answerable to well nobody as far as I can tell. While I understand the change from a cowardly international marketing point of view, it really is a sad state of affairs. However, since all the real heroes turn out to be Americans after all and the bad guys are mostly foreigners from despot countries like Scotland and Japan, it is a less jarring of a change than one would suppose.

If you can get past the fact the GI Joe Corps is a secret international army (no doubt enforcing the upcoming New World Order), has weapons more advanced than the US troops, and yet is still inexplicably called GI JOE. (I had assumed at some point Dennis Quaid would declare it is a lame acronym such as Global Initiative something something Expedition alas to his credit he does not.) You still have to deal with some unfortunate casting choices.

While I am not overly familiar with the GI Joe mythos, I saw a major flaw on the Joe side. Channing Tatum does not look or act like Duke. Now Duke is the main character and everyman of the Joes. If you are familiar with the Duke Nukem video game, think that guy but with less one-liners and titty bar visits. Channing does not have the charisma or presence to pull off the character, and the script does not give him much help.

The other character, the script torpedoes is The Baroness. She is the bad girl of the GI Joe universe and is played brilliantly by Sienna Miller (It really helps to hire great actors for these roles sometimes). The storyline unfortunately softens the Baroness to the point that by the end Duke is carrying her out of the exploding bad guys headquarters in his arms. (The bad guys lose. I hope that is not a spoiler in a movie called G.I. Joe) The other main characters are well represented. Marlon Wayans plays the black comic relief in the form of Rip Cord (Duke’s buddy). Normally I am aghast at the ethnic comic relief but Wayans pulls it off with aplomb. Rachel Nichols might seem a strange choice to play a smart woman, but she certainly looks the part and the whole Scarlett is an intellectual character angle has clearly been toned down.

Rounding out the cast is a bunch of foreigners, Dennis Quaid, Jonathan Pryce as the President of the United States and an uncredited Brendan Fraser.

The movie has a video game feel and I mean that in the most complementary way. The weapons are out of a Sci-fi shooter. The Joes wear suits cribbed directly from the video game Crackdown (Complete with the same powers); the very well shot action sequence in Paris will be familiar to any old school players of Twisted Metal 2.

The finale is right out of any Roger Moore James Bond film. This is the old school fun action, well shot, with a plot a seven-year-old could follow. There is some back-story and attempts at depth, but it is perfectly safe to turn your brain off for a few hours and enjoy the show.

The plot is as follows. Bad guys steal evil weapon (nanobot missiles). Good Guys get weapons back. Bad guys invade good guys headquarters killing cute blond and stealing missiles, Bad guys use missiles on unimportant foreign city (Paris) to show they mean business. Good Guys have their badges take away and are ordered to report to base. Good guys go to bad guys base instead. Good guys destroy bad guys underwater Arctic base by blowing up the ice cap causing the underwater base to be crushed by the falling ice and… hold on… falling ice???? Yes, apparently in the GI Joe universe the concept that ice floats is just another unproven liberal egghead theory like evolution or the female orgasm. I guess that happens when you have characters chasing ballistic missiles with an airplane.) The stupid is strong in this one… but so is the fun.

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