The Summer 2009 movie season has been pretty awful. The quality of films are so lackluster that I begin to wonder what is going on with Hollywood? Has every writer/director/producer simply decided to not try anymore and rely on the FX teams to come through with the bread and butter? What is even more disturbing is that I live in a world where Transformers 2 made almost as much money as The Dark Knight even though it is one of the top candidates for worst film in the past 5 years. The season is rapidly approaching its end and it is GI JOE: The Rise of Cobra that remotely hits the mark of what a Summer “pop-corn” movie actually is (especially one that is based off of such a ridiculous mythos). However, GI JOE is not a great film by any means at all. Rather, it is a terribly acted yet completely action-packed ball of fun.
The plot to this film is extraordinarily simple and is basically the background noise of the film. Destro (Christopher Eccleston) is the owner of a multi-faceted corporation who wants to rule the world because he believes it is his family’s birthright. When his company uses NATO to help finance experimental nanotechnology, nano-mites that can do everything from eat metal to mind control, he begins his assault on the world. Destro first strikes a special forces convoy led by Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) that is carrying 4 nano-rockets. The assault, led by the Baroness (Sienna Miller), results in the convoy’s destruction, except for Duke and Ripcord, who are saved by the bad-ass Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and the rest of the GI JOE unit. From this point, the film is filled with skirmishes between the JOE’s and the COBRA’s over control of the nano-rockets. There’s a semi coherent love story between Duke and the Baroness, but most of the film focuses on explosions and bad ass action. Oh, and just as the title foreshadows, the movie also showcases the birth of the COBRA Commander played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It is kind of counter-intuitive to even explain the plot as most of it is lost in the bad ass action sequences.
- Snake Eyes is the best part of this film, in fact he steals the show away from the often-times awesome effects. What more can I say? whenever he is on screen, you sit up in your chair. Even his childhood flashbacks ooze with the side effects of him being the man.
- The action in this movie is awesome. Director Stephen Sommers never lets anything out of the audience’s sight. No shaky cam or terrible camera angles from a bystander’s point of view in this film. Instead every punch, energy blast, and back flip is caught in full clarity. This is such a breathe of fresh air since nearly every action film has gone to Michael Bay’s school for terrible action photography.
- The toys in this film are awesome. With the new Bond films staying in the realm of reality, it is kind of cool to see a movie pull no punches in the area of unbelievable technology. After the chase scene in Paris, I wanted an accelerator suit so I could play a game of football with the NFL Super-Pro robots that are in all FOX broadcast games. All the tech in the film was sweet, from the energy guns to the super-fast aircraft. Hasbro is going to make a killing with JOE toys this year, that is for sure.
- The acting in this film is atrocious. Channing Tatum is one of the worst actors on the planet. Ray Park does not say one word or have any facial expression yet he dictates more emotion than Channing does in the entire film. Dennis Quaid plays General Hawk as a hybrid of himself and John Wayne, while Marlon Wayans isn’t really playing any part. Joseph Gordon-Levitt does whatever he can to be the Darth Vader of this series and it works up until a particular moment. You’ll know what I am referencing when you see the film.
- Channing Tatum. He is just so AWFUL. I could make a list of 200 ways this film sucks and he would be reasons 1-180. I hope they upgrade to anyone for the sequel . Miley Cyrus would be a better Duke than Tatum.
- The love story between Duke and the Baroness is just such a time waster. I understand that because Tatum is in this film he needs to find some hot chick to love or else the teen female-male audience wouldn’t be entertained, but this is just plain bad. So much time is thrown away on the history between these two. Marlon Wayans has a love fling going at the same time with Scarlett (Rachel Nichols), which is actually quirky enough to keep things more interesting than Tatum’s lifeless screen time with Miller.
The price for admission to see this film is definitely a matinee. Though this film is not stellar in quality and certainly does not win any awards, it certainly is the best action popcorn movie that summer audiences have had since Terminator Salvation. GI JOE: The Rise of Cobra is a film where you buy yourself a soda and just have a wild time. The movie does not wear out its welcome as it will have you laughing with buddies with each explosion and hollering every time Snake Eyes unsheathes his sword. GI JOE boils down to two words- fun time.