August 09, 2009
Review - " G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra " - (in Theaters) By Roland Hansen
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G.I.Joe: Rise of the Cobra
Directed by: Stephen Sommers
Starring: Channing Tatum, Brendan Fraser, Joseph
Gordon-Levitt, Sienna Miller, Dennis Quaid, Rachel Nichols,
Arnold Vosloo, Christopher Eccleston, Marlon Wayans, Jonathan
Pryce, Ray Park, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Byung-hun Lee,
After a deadly nano-tech weapon is stolen from their squad
during a transport mission, Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord
(Marlon Wayans) are introduced to the G.I. Joe, an elite military
group of special operatives. Joining the unit in a super-
secret underground base known as The Pit, under the command
of General Hawk (Dennis Quaid), the two soldiers team up with
Snake Eyes (Ray Park), Scarlett (Rachel Nichols), Breaker (Said
Taghmaoui), and more to stop a maniacal arms dealer hell-bent
on world domination.
G.I. Joe opens with the phrase "In the Not Too Distant Future,"
but should have read "In a Galaxy Far, Far Away..." More than
once I was put in mind of the Star Wars francise - for some
reason mostly "The Empire Strikes Back". The ending battle in
particular IS the Death Star battle from the original "A New Hope"
but done under water. (watch it and see if you don't agree)
With the dizzying amount of futuristic technology, boundless
financing and all-encompassing intel, there isn't really anything
in the film that's grounded in reality. Least of all the mechanical
accelerator suits that give the wearer superhuman powers, the
gargantuan undersea laboratory or the nanomite warheads that
eat through everything like GORT from the remake of The Day
the Earth Stood Still. Few people will recall playing with those
creations from the Hasbro toy company. In terms of faithfulness
to the original line of figurines that became a household name in the 80s, about all that is retained are the names.
What was good? Every damned scene with Snake Eyes in it for one thing. Ray Park rocked as the mute character (who left
me wondering how he could breath with that facemask on). The sword fight scenes were fantastic, and I loved that he wasn’t
strict about only using martial arts weapons - he did not hesitate to pull out a gun if he deemed it the most effective weapon
of the moment.
My first reaction to the “accelerator suits” in the trailer was an eye-roll, but they turned out to be one of the coolest things in
the movie. They were used in a Paris car chase sequence that was awesome and included Scarlett doing some wild
motorcycle riding through Paris traffic in addition to Duke and Ripcord tearing through streets chasing the bad guys.
Another thing that was unexpected was the inclusion of “serious” scenes in the film - in particular a flashback to Duke in the
Middle East in a war zone and him at a a military funeral afterwards almost seemed like they came out of a dramatic film.
Actually the overall tone of the film was that they approached it fairly straight-faced. There wasn’t much of the feeling that
director Stephen Sommers was actively trying to make this a movie based on a toy, animated series and comic book - the
film took itself fairly seriously, and that worked.
Finally, I liked the fact that there was humor in the film, but it was (with one or two exceptions) very deftly done - not
like the “yuk yuk” in your face Transformers humor. It was here and there, but didn’t seem inserted just because “hey, we
need a big laugh here.” Oh, and there were nods to the original toy ads, mentioning “life like hair” and “kung fu grip.”
What wasn’t so great? The plot - or lack thereof. Stop me if you've heard this before - Like at least 100 times! A
meglomaniac with super advanced weaponry plots to take over the world and our elite fighting unit has to stop them. This is
the exact same plot used in everything from James Bond to The Pink Panther, Superman to The Incredibles - Even this
years Watchmen. In spite of the lack of original storyline this film is packed with great FX and kickass action sequences.
Director Stephen Sommers also couldn't seem to
eliminate the need for Arnold Vosloo (who played
the mummy in his earlier films) or pyramids. At
least the director embraced nonstop action,
destruction and general mayhem (in what seems
to be a competition against Roland Emmerich),
which gives the film an undeniable level of
excitement in this explosive, outlandish, action
extravaganza. Oh, and there was a little
unexpected cameo by another Mummy actor who
is usually pretty goofy in films, but wasn’t here,
and I enjoyed seeing him this way.
"G.I. Joe: The Rise Of The Cobra" is Pretty Damn
Entertaining. If I was 10 years old, GI Joe would be
one of the best movies I had ever seen. As a
grown up it's one of the better summer movies,
a delightfully light, fun and action-packed kick in