Fans of the cartoon should park anything that they love about the series from the 80s, and basically everything that they know about the characters, at the door if they decide to see this movie. And fill up on lots and lots of popcorn. Some cheese nachos might not be a bad idea, either. For everyone in general, just park your brain at home because you won’t need it here.
As a longtime fan of the cartoon series from the 80’s, and witnessing the pitfalls of when cartoon properties try to make the transition into live action i.e. Masters of the Universe , I was somewhat surprised to see that it doesn’t quite fall apart at the CGI enhanced seams as much as I thought it might. At least until the end.
Director Stephen Sommers (The Mummy, Van Helsing) newest film is wallpapered from start to finish with pure action making his attempts at telling a story feel as if they’re intruding on the zen-like quality that the blooming explosions set the pace for. This is a movie that spends little time on actual characterization which the frequent flashbacks attempt to make up for. But I give the cast plenty of credit for making what they have work. Eccleston’s (Dr. Who) turn as weapons dealing supervillain was convincingly slippery, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s rasping Doctor was fantastic, and Sienna Miller’s Baroness burned the screen along with whoever else was in her way. Marlon Wayans’ Ripcord and Rachel Nichols’ Scarlett were also fun to watch. Arnold Vosloo and Kevin J. O’Connor, Sommers standbys, were also surprising to see onscreen even though their characters felt wasted.
The movie starts off in the 17th century with a pointless detour before moving into the near future where the MARS Corporation, a huge company that supplies 70% of the world’s arms, has finished creating a batch of nanomite warheads. Nanomites are microscropic machines that can dissolve metal, reducing tanks to dust or entire cities into rubble unless a special kill switch is activated to stop them from eating. The warheads are shipped off and predictably enough, well armed bad guys make a play for them. Before long, G.I. Joe, an international force made up of the best that the military forces around the world have to offer, are on the case to stop their nefarious plans.
This is not anything like that 80s cartoon series. People won’t miraculously eject from exploding cars or planes with parachutes attached to their backs, but at the same time, you won’t see violence on the level of Robocop. It does have the titanic bases, hyper advanced weapons, and familiar names such as General Hawk peppered throughout the production to tempt longtime fans, but that’s where the similarities pretty much end. Some of the effects also made it feel as if I should have brought my Xbox 360 controller with me, especially when the super suits came out to play.
At one point in the film, Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) are both fitted out with multimillion dollar “accelerator” suits…body armor that enhances their abilities while making them out to be walking weapons platforms. If these are so great, why aren’t more Joes wearing these? Why give them to the rookies? Therein lies the probable answer: they’re training wheels. These two aren’t cool enough to fight evil in street clothes and spandex just yet. There are holes like this riddled throughout the story, some small, others large enough to float an aircraft carrier through.
And yet, I had more fun with it than in watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen or Terminator: Salvation. It’s big, it’s dumb, but it was entertaining because it makes no excuses for what it is or attempts to be more than what it had set out to be. Although fans of the 80s cartoon series or the comics will find plenty in this film to grit their teeth about…I’m still trying to swallow what I’d witnessed in the last half hour of the film…those that haven’t grown up with Roadblock’s advice in avoiding downed power lines will probably be too busy watching how much real estate is blown up to care.
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Director: Stephen Sommers
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
End Credits: Nothing waiting after the credit roll so you can go home early.