Wednesday, August 19, 2009

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

I grew up with G.I. Joe. I played with my brothers action figures, I watched the cartoon and when we played as the Joes I wanted to be Scarlett. I even remember the last issue of the comic, when Joe got shut down because of the military down sizing during the Clinton administration. So trust me when I tell you that I do have sufficient credentials to speak as a geek and fan of G.I. Joe.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is silly, over the top and very exaggerated. Duke & Ripcord are inducted into an elite team known as G.I. Joe led by General Hawk because they happen to be guarding a high priority shipment that Baroness attempts to steal and as luck would have it Duke knows Baroness’s identity. What ensues is the first cat-and-mouse game between Joe & Cobra.

Along with my childhood love for G.I. Joe I think a lot of my love for this film comes from my love of Stephen Sommers. Sommers directed The Mummy & Van Helsing - two of the most fun films I’ve seen in the past decade. He turned Brendan Fraser into an action star. The movies he makes are stylish in a good way, and the kind of popcorn film that makes me remember why I first fell in love with the escapism the movies provides – and the best part is unlike some of those kinds of films I don’t feel like I have to check my brain at the door.

G.I. Joe does have some obvious flaws. Though there is a plot to the film it is a bit fuzzy to say the least, and you really can’t think too hard about it or it might start to crack. But dang is it fun.

Growing up Scarlett was my favorite Joe as she was the kick-ass girl I wanted to be. The only problem with the portray of Scarlett in the film is that Rachel Nichols played her as far too soft and feminine. Scarlett may be the major female resident of Joe, but she is though as nails, a deadly accurate shot, incredibly faithful to Snake Eyes, and basically not overtly flirty or feminie. In the film she seemed to be all about the hair flips, giggles and being a southern bell. Whether this came from Sommers or Nichols it doesn’t matter, I felt like reminding them both the whole movie that Scarlett can be sexy without being girly. Sienna Miller as Baroness blew Scarlett away in this film.

On a personal note I was also freaked out by Snake Eyes costume. While I LOVE the character and think Ray Park did a great job as my speechless hero it was the mask that got to me. The visor was cool, the body was great, but the fact that the mouth was built into the mask was just a little too much for me. It literally covered his lips. Give me back the mouth covering mask he had in the comic books, the one he’d lift to do anything that required a mouth. It’s not like he needs it to give long expository monologues. In the comic he only says a few words and they are usually in private, to Scarlett – he doesn’t need to have a mask tailored to his lips.

To truly get the most out of G.I. Joe you have to go in expecting nothing more than to have fun. Sommers didn’t make the film to redefine action or the war movie, or even to compete with Michael Bay. He made the movie to pay homage to great, fun characters we grew up loving and to just let us have a good time at the movies.

Director: Stephen Sommers
Writers: Stuart Beattie, David Elliot & Paul Lovett
Heavy Duty: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
McCullen: Christopher Eccleston
Cobra Commander: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Storm Shadow: Byung-hun Lee
Scarlett: Rachel Nichols
Snake Eyes: Ray Park
President: Jonathan Pryce
General Hawk: Dennis Quaid
Breaker: Said Taghmaoui
Duke: Channing Tatum
Zartan: Arnold Vosloo
Ripcord: Marlon Wayans
Sergeant Stone: Brendan Fraser

General Hawk: Technically, we don't exist. We answer to no one. And when all else fails, we don't.

No comments: