G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
As a longtime "G.I. Joe" fan, there's plenty to love AND hate about the first live-action incarnation of my beloved line of toys.
First, the hate, and no, I'm not going to start off with the accelerator suits. They were ridiculous, but they've been discussed to death, they only figured into one sequence, and there are bigger fish to fry.
The biggest of those aquatic beings is named Channing Tatum, a charisma black hole, the place where screen presence goes to die. Yeah, he's good looking, he's young, he's buff, but the man is no leader, and he surely isn't what I had in mind for the "real life" version of the quintessential field general of my childhood.
Stephen Sommers was not the right man for this job, and while he provided a few fleeting thrills, there were frankly as many hits as misses, there was very little that was strikingly original, and
The good: Snake Eyes (Ray Park), who wasn't quite portrayed for what he should be, which is simply the baddest man who ever lived. Snake Eyes is Bruce Lee crossed with Chuck Norris wearing skin-tight black and a visor. Park played his heart out, but ultimately it was Sommers who tries to torpedo him.
Where is the classic face-off moment with his lifelong nemesis Storm Shadow, where the two ever-so-briefly stop and size each other up before unleashing their classic screen battle? Where is the anticipation of their encounter? Instead, it's face-to-face, flashes of steel, feet and throwing stars, and an end. That it's done a couple of times is fine, but it's not the end-all ninja fight it deserves to be.
There is none, because there was no time to anticipate anything, there was so much mindless bomb-chucking, flashbacks, and weaving a hasty web of blind, cliched, nonsensical character arcs.
I also enjoyed Rachel Nichols' Scarlet, though she was improperly paired with Ripcord (Marlon Wayans, who actually wasn't bad himself). Everyone knows Scarlet was Duke's girl, and should have been here.
But let's back up a little. If you're still with me, and aren't as familiar with G.I. Joe as I am, let me briefly explain: the Joes are a multinational military organization who battles evil across the globe. Cobra, or proto-Cobra for the sake of our film, is their nemeses, a terrorist organization determined to rule the world.
To his credit, Sommers mananges t0 make their plan sound almost feasible in plan in a real-world scenario. Having said that, it's far too convoluted and silly to rehash here. Suffice it to say Cobra, led for most of the film by a man named McCullen (Christopher Eccleston), who is destined to be known as the iron-faced villain Destro, is an arms dealer playing both sides. His goal is simple world domination.
Then there's the other main arc, involving Duke (Tatum), the eventual Joe leader, and his past with one of the villains named The Baroness (Sienna Miller), which eventually lands him a spot on the Joe team.
Here's a question for Hollywood types: what's wrong with setting up a film for a three-picture plot line? Tease us in the first film. Give us a taste, but leave us wanting more. The second film, the bad guys get the better of the good guys, the third film, we get all-out mayhem.That's what I wanted for "G.I. Joe." Not this rushed, cram-it-all-in mentality, an entire film of payoff with no setup. It all just leaves an empty feeling inside.
Another admission: the film's final battle, while a little too densely packed in an effort to fit all of the Joes in, is relatively strong, cutting between the final battle between Duke, the Baroness, Destro, and the eventual Cobra Commander, the Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow clash, and a pretty wicked underwater sequence that evokes a little "Star Wars"-style dogfighting.
Another drawback: the effects are hit-and-miss. There are several sequences where the CG was horrid, and others when it was more than passable.
There have also been fanboy grumblings about Cobra Commander, and I have to say they pulled off his look better than I thought they would, as little as we get to see of it (but again, his setup was ludicrous and overly complex).
This is a movie you have to see, enjoy for what you like, hate for what you don't. I immediately want to watch it again, but the idea of putting more money in Stephen Sommers' pockets for what he did to it makes me a little ill.
Rating: 2 1/2 Yaps out of 5