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“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”-(Chris)
Reviewer:
Chris Pandolfi
Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment
Genre:
Action
Release Date:
11/3/09
Special Features:

Audio commentary

Review:

Back in June, a rumor was spread amongst Hollywood insiders stating that the director of “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,” Stephen Sommers, was fired from the project and locked out of the editing room after a test screening received the lowest score of any Paramount Pictures test screening. I have no way of knowing whether or not this is true. On the basis of the final product, however, I tend to think that it might be. ***

This movie is painfully bad, a nonstop, aggressive, ear splitting, eye straining explosion of action and special effects. It has a plot in the strictest sense, but in terms of delivery and execution, it never bothers to tell a story. It’s a hopped up assault on the senses, the audience constantly bombarded with loud, hyperactive sequences of mindless violence and destruction. I enjoy summer popcorn flicks as much as the next guy, but I find them much more tolerable if they pause and take a deep breath every so often. ***

I don’t pretend to know anything about the original Hasbro action figures; my personal toy preference tended towards building sets and blank sheet of paper for drawing. From what I know, however, the original G.I. Joe figures were based on the American military and divided into actual branches like Army, Navy, and Air Force. ***

They eventually shifted into a more action oriented back story involving the evil Cobra Command, and I guess that’s what the movie is based on. So what we have is not so much a military story but a science fiction shoot-‘em-up featuring a lot of cool special effects. If eye candy is your thing, fine, but don’t expect to get anything out of the story. Incidentally, I use the word “story” loosely since it’s pretty hard to figure out what this movie is about. ***

At best, I can say that it involves specially engineered warheads filled with microscopic robots that can eat entire cities on a molecular level. Fighting over control of the warheads are the evil MARS corporation and a top secret military faction known as G.I. Joe. ***

From the MARS corporation, we have the duplicitous weapons expert James McCullen (Christopher Eccleston), the smoking hot Baroness (Sienna Miller), the stealthy Storm Shadow (Lee Byung-hun), and master of disguise Zartan (Arnold Vosloo), who can never stop whistling “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.” There’s also a mad doctor who looks like a cross between Freddy Kruger and Darth Vader, but I don’t think I should reveal who plays him since that would give away a crucial plot point. ***

From G.I. Joe, we have two recruited soldiers, Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans), the team leader, General Hawk (Dennis Quaid), the mute Snake Eyes (Ray Park), the hulking Heavy Duty (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and the super-intelligent Scarlett (Rachel Nichols), who, much like a Vulcan, believes that emotions are useless because they can’t be explained logically. Funny, given the fact that Nichols was also cast in this year’s version of “Star Trek.” ***

We’re introduced to all of these characters, and we’re told a fair amount about their personal lives: Duke and Baroness were once engaged; Ripcord is falling in love with Scarlett; McCullen had an ancestor who was tried for treason in France back in 1641, which is when the film begins; the mad doctor knows more about Duke and Baroness than he cares to admit. But what does any of this mean? ***

Not a heck of a lot, given the fact that most of what we’re told plays second fiddle to the action. My God, the action – endless scenes of running and falling and jumping and shooting and punching and kicking and flying, and all of it saturated with CGI. Of all the things I gathered from this movie, the most prominent is that Sommers really has a thing with stuntmen projected through sheets of glass. That, and the fact that he must have had a burning desire to watch the Eiffel Tower get destroyed. ***

If there is a saving grace for “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,” it’s that it manages to get better as it goes along. I still couldn’t figure out what was going on, but at least I began getting involved. Of course, that’s the point at which the movie ends, so I was ultimately left feeling completely unsatisfied. Who are these characters? What are they doing? Why should anyone even care? ***

Special Features:

The only special feature on this single-disc DVD is a feature length audio commentary by director Stephen Sommers and producer Bob Duscay. The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 widescreen format and features Dolby 5.1 Digital sound. ***

Final Words:

Why should movies get a pass simply for being released during the summer? Why can’t a good movie be good and a bad movie be bad, regardless of the season? I enjoy escapist entertainment as much as the next person, but when your movie can’t take a couple of minutes to slow down and give the audience’s eyes and ears a rest, you no longer have a movie. You have a noisy video game projected on a screen. “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” is exactly like that, and what’s worse, the filmmakers never give the audience the controller and let it have a turn.

 

 
 
 
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