Friday, August 07, 2009

Review: G.I.JOE: The Rise of Cobra


G.I.JOE: The Rise of Cobra hits theaters today. No doubt it will bring in a lot of money. Unfortunately, it's probably not as good a film as the 1987 animated JOE movie... the one starring Don Johnson and Sgt. Slaughter.
Yes, G.I.JOE is pretty bad.

Maybe that's a bit harsh. "Silly" is a much better word.
The action is over-the-top and silly. The dialogue is stock and silly. Many of the characters turn out to be silly as well. Yes, that's a good word for it. Any enjoyment of the film is going to require quite a bit of 'suspension of belief'--which is fine. This is a G.I.JOE movie that we're talking about. The difficulty arises when you understand precisely how much suspension is asked of you: the action and technology in this movie are more outlandish than anything from the JOE cartoon series... and that was a cartoon. For whatever reasons, this translation was handled much better by the filmmakers behind Transformers.

The plot is hardly immune to the silliness. If you ask too many questions about characters' motives or their various histories (with each other), your head might explode. Avoid this; just don't ask questions. Sit back and let the action and the silliness take you for a ride.

A quick note on the characters.
I'm not yet sure why exactly this movie features the particular Joes that it does. This is especially true of Heavy Duty and Ripcord. Anyone with a background in ARAH will know what I mean. (If it's simply a matter of having proper diversity in the team, then, please, give us Roadblock and Stalker.)
I actually did like Channing Tatum's Duke, which is much more than I expected going in. Snake Eyes was well done, as was Stormshadow, I felt. Unfortunately, the Scarlett/Snake Eyes relation was totally removed from the story. Scarlett was too busy being noticed for apparently the first time by a male on the team. This is a great loss, though I have to admit that the Scarlett/Ripcord tension is great fun.
Baroness looked great... beyond that we have some troubles. Dennis Quaid was perfect.
I can only hope that, if and when a (totally unnecessary and creatively unwarranted) sequel is produced, we will see some of the great characters absent in this first outing: Flint and Lady Jaye, Stalker, Xamot and Tomax, Mercer. Time will tell.

I think that, in some respects, Rise of Cobra is a bit like the first Fantastic Four movie. You can have fun with it if you want to. And I wanted to.
What I don't want is to ever see this movie again... or at least probably not for a long time.

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