On DVD: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra


Here’s my theory on how Paramount and Hasbro teamed up to make “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.” With the help of the film’s creative team, Hasbro designed an entire Toys R Us aisle’s worth of G.I. Joe action figures and accessories, everything from subs to jets to tunneling vehicles to Joes in accelerator suits as well as swords and guns and toy explosives. Then they put all those toys in a room lined with tinted glass and filled it with at least a dozen 8-year- olds with diagnosed ADHD and instructed them to have at it. On the other side of the glass were Michael B. Gordon, Stuart Beattie, Stephen Sommers, David Elliot and Paul Lovett, the film’s writers, who tried to roughly translate the kids’ make-believe story lines into a semblance of a plot.

“G.I. Joe” might be the most offensively terrible and amateur big-budget action flick I have ever seen. It’s like driving through an automobile scrapyard rigged with land mines. The action, although intense and sometimes “cool,” is so gratuitous that it’s rendered completely ineffective. There are dozens of characters all of which are tied to some kind of pointless subplot that reveals their past but only makes them more shallow because it doesn’t reveal anything about them as people, just characters. The dialogue also exists solely to explain the gadgets, the plot and move from Explosive Sequence A to Explosive Sequence B and the rest are dumb filler lines like “nice shoes” or “We’re going to France? I like croissants.”

“Joe” starts off with two American soldiers, Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) who are sent on a mission to safely deliver these nanomite warheads (weapons filled with microscopic termites that can eat through cities). En route, a mysterious group of fighters led by The Baroness (Sienna Miller) attempt to steal it. They fail, of course, so that later after Duke and Ripcord get discovered by General Hawk and the G.I. Joe team, they can burrow into the base and try to steal it again, this time succeeding. The Joes figure out the big evil plan and then go to Paris as well as the Polar Icecaps to stop it.

Although not great films, I enjoyed — from an entertainment perspective — Stephen Sommers’ previous flicks “The Mummy” and “Van Helsing,” but “Joe” is atrocious. Whatever eye for cool-looking sequences he has is wasted because there’s way too much. Nothing sticks out as being “it was really cool when they did ___” because every sequence tries to be that way. Action scenes have to work like any other; they need to build up to a climax and resolve in some mildly intelligent manner. Otherwise, it’s like watching the grand finale of a fireworks display only the finale is the whole thing and it’s two hours long. The finale is not nearly as cool if it doesn’t build and create anticipation. Sure, say that “Joe” is “just supposed to be an action movie” but it doesn’t even adhere to those standards.

It’s pointless to even contemplate delving into the absurdity of the film’s plot. Half the events defy the laws of physics and characters too-narrowly escape death, but that’s the least of this movie’s problems.

One of my stars goes to the creative team that designed all these gadgets and vehicles and such. They’re clever, they make sense (usually) and they’re pretty cool on the whole. The problem is that the movie goes through them like a one-year-old with toys: Play with it for two minutes, throw it to the ground and go pick up that other new shiny thing. Hours of imagination go to waste here because we never get to savor the creativity. The CG work is pretty good on a small scale, but there are a lot of wide shots that look like bad TV effects shots like the desert and even the G.I. Joe base at times. I, as an average film-goer who only knows what green screen is, should not be able to tell when and when it’s not used the way technology is today.

“G.I. Joe” is loud, obnoxious and unsympathetic. It’s a new cool kid that walks onto the playground and says “I’m gonna be awesome” and does something like assume it’s worthy of a sequel. I’m not spoiling anything here, after all, the film is called “The Rise of Cobra” and the Cobra doesn’t rise until the end of the movie. The clunking giant is actually named like a prequel for goodness sake, and that pretentious attitude is offensive when you’re not a particularly good movie.

Action movies are like candy and in that metaphor “G.I. Joe” is like asking you to eat all your Halloween candy in one sitting. Candy is awesome, but not when you eat it all at once, don’t appreciate each kind and then get sick.

1/5 Stars

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Directed by Stephen Sommers
Written by: Stuart Beattie, David Elliot, Paul Lovett, Michael Gordon, Stephen Sommers
Starring: Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Marlon Wayans, Joseph Gordon-Levitt


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