Old 08-12-2009, 02:07 PM
Stephen Sommers's G. I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

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

The long-anticipated live-action film based off of the popular toys and the 80s cartoon is finally here with "G. I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra." Having never seen the cartoon before, I can't say whether it's a good adaptation of that or not, but what I can do is judge it simply as a standalone movie, which I have to say, it doesn't hold up very well as.

The story here is simple. A weapons development corporation, headed by a man called McCullen (Christopher Eccleston), has developed nanomachines that can eat through pretty much anything. While these nanos are being transported by a military escort, they are attacked by an unknown enemy, leaving only Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) alive. We learn very early that McCullen is actually responsible for the attack. He is trying to steal the nanos back so that he can use them in missiles, which he plans to launch at certain world capitals.

The only reason Duke and Ripcord got out of the attack alive was because of a secret military group known as G. I. Joe, headed by General Hawk (Dennis Quaid). Duke and Ripcord join forces with the Joes to try and get the nanos back before McCullen can use them, but things are complicated when Duke recognizes one of the thieves as his old fiancée, Ana (Sienna Miller).

The odd thing about this film was that the first half worked pretty well. It still had its problems, but it wasn't in the disaster zone yet. One of these problems was its complete lack of character development, which doesn't give the audience any reason to care about the characters at all. It would have also been nice to know something about these characters' backgrounds instead of just throwing them all together. In fact, it would have been nice to know some of their names, which, if mentioned at all, must have been only once or twice. We do get a little information on a few of them in flashbacks, but still not nearly enough to make us care about them.

Marlon Wayans was obviously cast to bring some comic relief to the film, but every time he tried to lighten the mood, it felt so awkward, making the joke fall completely flat. Actually, this was not only true of Wayans, but for all of the cast members who attempted it. The jokes always popped up in the completely wrong spots, causing the, to lose whatever effectiveness they were going for.

The first half had been alright for awhile, but the sequence that really made this whole film turn into a disaster was the chase in Paris. Duke and Ripcord continually have trouble with their acceleration suits, which they apparently didn't train to use in the least, which is surprising with all of the combat training that the Joes put them through. Most of the chase sequence is them bumbling through the streets of Paris, trying to control the suits. This was supposedly supposed to be funny, but for a scene with imminent danger like this one, it seemed really inappropriate.

Another questioned that popped into my head during this entire sequence concerned the whereabouts of the police. Does Paris even have any police? Were they just not concerned with a bunch of weirdoes zooming down the streets, destroying everything in their sight? Well, apparently Paris does have police, but they must have been trained to follow the old cliché, which is usually reserved for horror films, where the police show up after the action is completed.

The third act only continued the film's downfall. First off, it went on for far too long and was reminiscent of other films that did the same thing with disastrous results like "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" or "X-Men 2." This third act seemed like nothing more than an excuse to have as many explosions packed into 30 minutes as the filmmakers possibly could. Meanwhile, the audience sits there bored, knowing exactly what is going to happen. The excessive special effects made the last part of the film become monotonous and tedious very quickly.

There were a couple of humorous parts in this last act, though I doubt that they were meant to be. Ripcord hops into a jet that he's never flown before and yet he can fly it perfectly, which I guess we have to just accept because he was apparently considering joining the Air Force at the beginning of the film. My personal favorite unintentional humorous moment came when Ripcord was trying to figure out how to shoot at the missiles. One of the characters (I think her name was Scarlett, based on IMDB's information) figures that, since McCullen is Scottish, that he must have programmed the voice-activated controls to respond to the Celtic language, which she just happens to speak!

To its credit, "G. I. Joe" is a little more coherent than some of the other summer blockbusters out there like "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" and "Terminator Salvation." The writers of this film at least had to decency to come up with a semi-decent plot and follow it through to the end in a semi-entertaining manner, though that's not saying much at this point. All you really need to know is that this film isn't worth your time.......and knowing is half the battle. 2/4 stars.

Last edited by Hal2001; 08-13-2009 at 10:37 AM..
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Old 08-13-2009, 10:30 AM
Really dug it and may even describe in two letters as BA. Bigger and longer review soon.

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Old 09-03-2009, 04:05 AM
Arms manufacturer James McCullen (Christopher Eccleston) and his organisation, COBRA, are about to make his mark on the world with the use of a revolutionary new warhead, but first they must eliminate the elite government unit that protects against such threats- G.I. JOE. With the help of new recruits Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans), it falls to the Joes to save the world from COBRA.

Wherever I can, I try not to think about Michael Bay, but in the midst of the summer blockbuster season, in a year when he's had a godawful film out, I'm merely covering the back of every other film by saying it's not as bad as his. Here of course, I have cause to mention this cinematic equivalent of Lord Voldemort, with G.I. Joe being the second film of the summer to come from the slightly dubious production company Hasbro, who are of course better known for the toys. So with expectations that the film would be another ludicrously expensive and painful toy advert, I must declare myself surprised by what Stephen Sommers has offered up. I'm a fan of his Mummy films, and he's invested the same fun adventurous spirit in this effort, right down to casting Brendan Fraser and Arnold Vosloo against one another, although the formula is sadly underused. What this makes for is a rather enjoyable family action film. It's not perfect, but that should really go without saying.

Look at that premise again for a moment. Does anyone remember Team America World Police? I thought you might, and the similarities go beyond that when you're watching the film itself. The Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity (what the acronym stands for) pretty much polices the world in the way Team America did, and oh look, the Eiffel Tower falls down as they go about in their Earth-protecting duties. Somewhere Parker and Stone are laughing. That's only if you've seen their film though- the more ostensible problem is the lack of simplicity. I stand by the fact that it's self-aware as a kid's world, with weapons and vehicles designed to clear shelves at Toys R Us, but the labours put into back story are remarkable for a film like this. Sommers should really have kept things simple, as the number of flashbacks is what boosts the film up to its two hour running-time, when a couple of lines referencing the characters' pasts would've done much better. The most ludicrous of these is when the teams' two opposing Stig-like samurai come face to face and the line "Hello, brother" smash cuts away to a shot of two children play-fighting. So if you don't know what a brother is, your needs are catered to rather well.

That's not to say that Sommers patronises his audience, and if he did, I doubt he would've attracted the likes of Dennis Quaid or Christopher Eccleston. Quaid is sadly underused, but Eccleston sinks his teeth into his villain role without totally hamming it up, even if that Scottish accent is a little off. And to compare this to Transformers on its own level, Rachel Nichols and Sienna Miller are far more beautiful and more capable actresses than Megan Fox, and they're never reduced to titillating the audience. Of course this isn't the best thing any of the cast have been in, but they all acquit themselves well. Even Marlon Wayans, or Jar-Jar Binks in human form as I am more partial to calling him, manages to be less annoying than in anything else I've seen him in, and Channing Tatum's blandness is fairly inoffensive. On the other hand, Jonathan Pryce is underused too, and seems to have been cast as the President entirely with the sequel in mind. This is talismanic of the whole film, actually- a whole sub-plot is dedicated to the ending sequel hook, and I hope the already-announced sequel doesn't discard the entertainment factor of its predecessor when it shows up in cinemas.

Whether the sequel manages to be better or not, The Rise of Cobra is a cheesy but fun action film that doesn't exist solely to sell toys, but might have been better served by cuts to ensure a PG rating. It's not as bad as Transformers, kids will be enthralled and parents won't fall asleep or want to self-destruct halfway through, and I was entertained too. It proves the need for some films to be preceded by an advert that tells you to switch your brain off as well as your phone so you don't ruin the film.

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Old 10-12-2009, 12:08 AM
A really fun live-action cartoon that worked on every level "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" failed so epicly at! The acting was solid, the special effects and CGI were good, the action was almost non-stop and I could follow everything going on during it, the characteriztions we do get aren't boring or stupid and do not over-shadow the action. Also, it's not racist or sexist!! There's this amazing shot, about halfway through where Duke and Ripcord, in the acclerator suits are chasing a van with the baddies in Paris, which Snake Eyes is on top of, and Scarlett is in the very back chasing on her motorcycle. The camera is a dolly shot moving back following the action, and everything is so crisp and easy to see, and the scene is filled with soo much going on, between the chasers and chasees and explosions and durbis it's amazing. That scene alone made it worth it for me, and the rest of the movie is a lot of fun! B+
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