Movie Trailer: G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra
If any film this year has suffered the one-two punch of bad buzz and worse marketing, it’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Those who’ve spent even a small amount of time reading online sites and movie mags have likely caught wind of problems in the editing room, problems with the script, problems with the director, Stephen Sommers, and, most importantly, problems with the movie itself – rumors which were hardly dispelled by the film’s downright unimpressive trailers. That, coupled with the hesitancy of the die-hard Joe fans to support any adaptation – as well as the fact that today’s kids simply weren’t raised on the classic toys and cartoons – virtually paved the way for a film that appeared as if it’d make Transformers 2 look like Twelfth Night in comparison.
Count us surprised then that G.I. Joe doesn’t disappoint. In fact, taken in the proper spirit, it delivers a relatively action-packed and – dare we say – fun bit of mindless entertainment in a fashion that’s been missing from movie screens this summer. In these days of more serious-minded (and wildly successful) adaptations, it is unexpectedly refreshing for a film to be so wildly “popcorn” without falling into the realm of the unengaging and inane. Let’s make no mistake here, however. This is a B-level action movie with relatively well-drawn characters, a few minor subplots and smartly staged, near-constant action. Shakespeare, it ain’t. For better or worse, it feels very much like Sommers’ The Mummy, chock-a-block with massive set pieces and broad, dramatic beats without ever taking itself too seriously.
When weapons manufacturer McCullen – soon to be known as Destro – tries to frame NATO forces for the theft of his own metal-eating nano-bot rockets, an even more elite Special Forces group enters the picture: G.I. Joe. Soon, a military caravan led by officers Duke and Ripcord is hijacked by the Baroness and her men, thwarted only by the sudden appearance of Scarlett, Snake-Eyes and Heavy Duty, blasting away in true Joe fashion. Eventually, the pair is allowed to tag along with the group on a mission to retrieve the missles before Destro, Baroness, Storm Shadow and the soon-to-be Cobras can use them against strategic, well-populated targets in an effort to… what else?… take over the world!
As Duke and Ripcord prove themselves to be true Joe material, past events for many of the character (particularly Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, Duke and the Baroness) play a major factor in the emergence of a figure who may very well become the Cobra Commander of legend. And it is in these minor flashbacks and subtle relationships that actual characters being to take shape – with motivations and emotions that, while not constituting great drama, go far to invest the audience enough to follow along.
The action shifts from dense forests, to subterranean facilities, to the streets of France, to underwater bases, to high-altitude jet fights and a number of places in-between. The major sequences are both intense and sufficiently humorous, laden with eye-rolling, though faintly charming, one-liners and a speaker-shattering, non-stop barrage of explosions, chases, shoot-outs and sword fights. The action is well paced and the effects – much like the cinematography itself – blend the tangibly real and the colorfully cartoonish in a way that captures the spirit of G.I. Joe. There’s no attempt to explain why or how these massive bases might feasibly have been constructed; no effort made to convince the audience that jamming electrodes into a dead person’s skull shouldn’t allow you to replay their last memories; and no real explanation as to why taking over the world is all that appealing to begin with.
It all just is…
You may have heard it stated that this is the perfect movie for eight year olds… or, at the very least, the eight year old that you once were. And while the former is true, the latter is somewhat misleading. G.I. Joe doesn’t require that you awaken your inner-child and dismiss any sense of your adulthood to enjoy it. You just have to take it in the spirit in which it is intended. In fact, there is something rather admirable in Sommers’ attempt to neither pander to his audience nor unnecessarily class-up the source material. The good guys are good guys; the bad guys are bad. The schemes are ridiculous and the characters are broad. But nothing here is ever too much of anything. This is an adult’s interpretation of a childhood phenomenon, and if you’re willing to give it a shot and not expect a work of cinematic art, one suspects that you’ll find yourself entertained enough to give your best, “Yo, Joe!”