Review: ‘G.I. Joe’ wins half the battle

August 9th, 2009 at 11:15 pm by under Entertainment

“Yo Joe!” and “Cobra!”… two phrases I loved when I was a kid, but now seem a little corny and didn’t want to hear in this movie… that’s one wish granted.   My biggest concerns going into this movie about being disappointed were characters and storyline.   While the  storyline fit in with the mid-1980′s cartoons I grew up on, there were some liberties taken with the characters that forced my rating down half a point… I won’t spoil it for you here, but old school G.I. Joe fans will know why changes for several characters bothered me soo much.
"G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" poster courtesy Paramount 

For the majority of audiences, “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” accomplishes everything you want in a summer action/adventure blockbuster: action, action, action.  There’s also a lot of high-tech gadgets and weapons, fight scenes, some commraderie, some romance, and lots of special effects.

This year 2009 update of the massively popular 1980′s cartoon franchise is understandable: the weapons are more high tech, the equipment and bases are even more futuristic, the bad guys are meaner and less “cartoony”… but as you might have initially felt from watching the trailer, the “Delta 6 accelerator suits” that have the Joes running and jumping at super-human rates were odd.  I mean – is this “Iron Man” or is this “G.I. Joe”?  Are you saying the elite Joes needs special mechanic suits to keep up with the snakes?  C’mon Stephen Sommers (Director), I thought these guys were the best of the best, they don’t need special suits !!!

Here’s another minor issue: the movie can’t seem to decide if its setting up for a sequel or trying to jam everything in this movie in case there isn’t a sequel.   There are numerous character flashbacks, trying to  explain some of the character relationships* that regular audiences won’t know (Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow) and die hard fans will have trouble accepting (see below if you don’t mind minor spoilers).  But not all of the main characters get flashbacks… or even their names said on screen to help the audience understand who everyone is… unlike Dennis Quaid’s “General Hawk” or Marlon Wayan’s “Ripcord” that are referred to by name numerous times.

"G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" photo courtesy ParamountThe story really moves a lot like a classic “G.I. Joe” cartoon, there are very few quiet slow tender moments or lulls in the action.  Also good:  the “G.I. Joe” classic themes: bad guys have a device (like a weather dominator or mass device) and the Joes have to battle to stop it in different parts of the world… and what I believe were the best parts of the movie and the truest to the original – the fights between Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee).

Mr. Sommers – I liked that you put 3 of your old pals from your “Mummy” movies in this movie: Brendan Fraser (my interview), Arnold Vosloo, and Kevin J. O’Connor… and I liked the references to double bubble gum and “knowing is half the battle”…. but what I needed was a little more heart from the characters and a little less shock from your character changes (minor spoiler see below).

THE BOTTOM LINE: What would normally rate at an 8.0 loses a half point because of my issues with character changes that really blew my mind, so I have to give it 7.5 out of 10 instead… although if you don’t have the sentimental interest in  “G.I. Joe”, its probably closer to 7.0 as just a fun non-stop action movie!


* Here’s the deal plain and simple: Hollywood adds some jarring “relationship” changes to keep things interesting for the ladies in the audience… but they didn’t need to, “G.I. Joe” always had a couples thing going: Duke and Scarlett, Flint and LadyJay, The Baroness and Destro… okay that last one may creep you out… but wrap your mind around these changes:

#1 – Scarlett and Ripcord start to fall in love in “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”… not Duke, Ripcord… c’mon she likes the leader of the Joes versus a supporting specialist… why?

but here’s the doozy…. #2 – In “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”, Duke has a thing for The Baroness and vice versa… yeah, the bad girl and (again) the leader of the Joes romantically involved?   How can you expect us to accept that these two diametrically opposing characters would be romantically involved?  One is bad to the core, the other: the ultimate patriotic boy scout.

"G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" photo courtesy Paramount “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”

(2009) (rated: PG-13 for strong sequences of action violence and mayhem throughout)
(1 hr, 58 min)

Channing Tatum - Duke 
Marlon Wayans - Ripcord
Christopher Eccleston - McCullen /Destro
Sienna Miller - Ana/Baroness
Dennis Quaid -  General Hawk
Rachel Nichols - Shana ‘Scarlett’ O’Hara
Ray Park – Snake Eyes
Saïd Taghmaoui (“Traitor”) – Breaker
Byung-hun Lee – Storm Shadow
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje - Heavy Duty
Joseph Gordon-Levitt - The Doctor/Rex
Arnold Vosloo – Zartan
Karolina Kurkova - Courtney A. Kreiger/Cover Girl
Kevin J. O’Connor - Dr. Mindbender
Jonathan Pryce – U.S. President

Director: Stephen Sommers – “Van Helsing” (2004), “The Mummy Returns” (2001), “The Mummy” (1999)

Genre: Action/Adventure/Military

The Plot: An elite military unit comprised of special operatives known as G.I. Joe, operating out of The Pit, takes on an evil organization led by a notorious arms dealer. 

So what did you think?  Please post a comment!

“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” poster courtesy Paramount



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3 Responses to “Review: ‘G.I. Joe’ wins half the battle”

  1. Brian Kyhn says:

    “Yo Joe!” was in the movie, when the joes were fleeing the underwater base the big black joe said “Yo Joe” Also possible “spoiler alert” I wish they didn’t show who Cobra is but left it a mystery for possible future sequels, Also I think the Dr. should have been Mindbender thats who I thought it was at first. anyways I hope if they have a sequel it would be better than this one and Duke and the Baroness won’t be an item.

  2. Vin says:

    My guess is that they wore the suits so that they could do all that superhuman junk to justify all the CGI. I’d much rather they have taken the Bourne series route and have the actors do all the stunts. Based on the boffo box office, early bets are on for a sequel. Whether that’s a pro or con is up to y’all.

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