“G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra” Review

Starring: Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans, Rachel Nichols, Dennis Quaid, Christopher Eccleston, Sienna Miller, Ray Park, Byung-hun Lee, Joseph Gordon Levitt

Director: Stephen Sommers

Writers: Stuart Beattie, Michael Gordon, Stephen Sommers

Our childhoods are the new big things for movies.  Transformers and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen were box office hits, comic book movies are still an insanely profitable business, and projects like He-Man And The Masters of the Universe have been in development hell for years.  The latest comes from Stephen Sommers, who knows a few things about summer blockbusters; he did do the recent The Mummy franchise, after all.  Yes, it’s time to take a look at G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, and what can I say? Well, I guess I could say that knowing is half the battle, and it’s probably best that you know right off hand that this movie is mindless and boring, with a number of plot inconsistencies and reasoning that will leave the audience baffled.  Spoilers after the jump.

See what I did there, sneaking in a little nod to the cartoon?  Get used to it; the movie spends the first half hour reminding you that there was a cartoon, with slogans and nods.  Then it spends the rest of the time changing up the cartoon needlessly.

Now, before we go any further, let me make this clear: I’m fine with changes from source material.  I understand that some things that work in other mediums will not work cinematically.  This has worked very well with franchises like X-Men (well, for 2 movies at least) and Batman; but these changes need to make sense.  They shouldn’t detract from the reasons we love these characters, from the emotional bonds we’ve shared with them for years.  And most importantly, they should make sense.  If you do have to change something, you absolutely should have to.  It should be because there is no other way around it but to change it.

That said, what the hell made them think G.I. Joe is a love story?  Why was Duke once engaged to The Baroness, who is needlessly revealed to be not really evil but instead mind controlled by The Doctor (who later becomes Cobra Commander)?  Why do the two still pine over each other after years of separation, after Duke couldn’t save her brother? (Her brother’s Cobra Commander, there, I just saved you $9)  Why are Scarlett and Ripcord a couple by movie’s end?  More importantly, why aren’t Scarlett and Snake Eyes a couple, as the characters are classically depicted?

The casting for the main characters is all over the place.  Channing Tatum’s Duke comes off way too “brodude”, Marlon Wayans is playing the same character he’s played in every movie, and Rachel Nichols is passable as Scarlett.  I was passable because while she may not have done much besides flirt with Marlon Wayans and speak a little Celtic, she’s really hot, so she gets a pass.  Snake Eyes has a horrible costume, but character wise he’s pretty good, since it’s Ray Park as a silent martial artist and he’s pretty well got that nailed at this point.  As far as the heroes go, that’s really it.  Yes, you’ve got Heavy Duty, Breaker and General Hawk, but they’re mostly in the background after their one moment.  You’ve also got a 2 minute cameo by Brenden Frasier, as a character that is intended to be a descendant of his character from The Mummy, not that you’ll care, since he’s barely on screen and somewhat annoying.

The villains are a little more spot-on.  Sienna Miller’s Baroness had a nonsensical mind control back story,  Joeseph Gordon-Levitt is disappointing behind horrible designs and poor timing as The Scientist/Cobra Commander.  Storm Shadow is pretty cool, but seems to exist only to remind the villains that Snake Eyes is utterly badass.  And there’s Zartan, who is only in about half the movie.  Christopher Eccleston is great as Destro, but he’s woefully underused.  Oh, sorry, I called him Destro.  He’s not really Destro until the last 5 seconds of the movie, until then he’s McCullen.

Which brings us to the movie’s biggest letdown: the story.  The movie isn’t an origin film for G.I. Joe, it’s an origin film for Cobra.  The needlessly elaborate plot is that McCullen is an arms dealer, who sells to both sides of any warring faction, as his family has for years.  He’s developed NERF footballs missiles with nanomites which can eat through any metal, because…well, I guess metal is not something he appreciates.  His ultimate goal is to hold the world hostage and straighten things out using chaos.  He’s got in his employ an army of nanomite infused soldiers (assuming you call 20 an army), as well as Storm Shadow, The Baroness, and The Doctor.  The Doctor’s goal is to finish his research and take over McCullen’s army to form the terrorist organization Cobra.  The Joes don’t realize much by themselves and only stumble upon McCullen’s base because Duke gets kidnapped.

Well, at least the actions is pretty good, right?  No!  There’s no point to it!  The first major sequence has the Joes trying to stop Cobr–sorry, McCullen’s agents from trying to destroy the Eiffel Tower.  Since you’ve already seen the trailer, I think you can guess how this one ends.  So as Baroness and Storm Shadow are fleeing in broad daylight in an SUV, the Joes follow in a van.  Out of Duke and Ripcord in Accelerator Suits that allow them to run faster than a car, Snake Eyes and Scarlett, who is the first person that you would send after a speeding car?  If you selected Snake Eyes, by God, you exist on G.I. Joe logic.  Duke, Ripcord and Scarlett finally join in on the chase, but Scarlett is taken out pretty fast, while Duke and Ripcord tear through moving cars and buildings, effectively killing or maiming a large portion of Paris’ citizens.  Then they’re shocked when they’re asked to never again return to France.  Yo Joe indeed.  The movie ends with the Joe using snow camoflauge to infiltrate an artic base, which is pretty effective camouflage except for the giant white and grey snowmobiles they use on the approach (Stealth!), a Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow fight that is alright but way too short, Ripcord getting arrested again, Destro being given a nanomite infused mask with horrible CG lips, The Doctor declaring himself Cobra Commander, and Duke and the newly saved Baroness leading the army that arrests the two.  Yeah, you read that right.  Cobra rises just in time for it’s leaders to be arrested.

The films seems to hang on a love story, a buddy story, but primarily tries to be a needlessly complex origin story for Cobra.  And why even try that?  Terrorist organizations do not need origins!  Why is Cobra trying to blow things up?  Who gives a shit!  It’s Cobra!  They just want to blow things up, and G.I. Joe is there to stop them!  Remember the point I made that the changes should make sense?  Is there just not a good plot out there that involves Cobra Commander leading an army and G.I. Joe must foil that plot?

There’s plenty more I could go on about.  Snake Eyes’ horrible, molded costume (something similar to Storm Shadow’s would have been much more fitting and looked way better), the dodgy CGI, the overuse of false technology (a camouflage suit exists to be used solely for one fight) which I’m sure was meant to be a nod towards GI Joe’s extensive use of toys as plot devices but instead serves to tip the audience off as to what happens next; the movie is just a trainwreck.  I’m sure a sequel is already needlessly greenlit, so here’s hoping that it does better in the next installment.

Now you know that G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra gets a D, only saved from it’s F by Snake Eyes being an awesome ninja and Scarlett running on a treadmill, so hopefully you’ll fight your half of the battle and not spend money on this horrible movie.

About Christopher Baggett

Christopher Baggett has owned and operated The HomeWorld independently since 2009 after spinning it off from his previous concept, 'The Anime Homeworld'. In addition to journalistic endeavors, he is an aspiring novelist. Arizona born military brat Christopher currently resides in the Georgia area.

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