G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

10 August 2009

When I discovered that Spyglass Pictures was bringing G.I. Joe to the big screen a while ago I was nonplussed until I discovered that Christopher Eccleston, who happens to be one of my favorite actors, was playing the arms dealer Destro, or James McCullen the fourteenth, head of MARS.

Chris, Chris, Chris.. what were you thinking?

I want to like this movie, I really do. It’s just that there are so many things about it that piss me off in one way or another. When I go to see a science fiction movie, I implicitly agree to suspend my disbelief so that I can watch a story and be entertained. I do not, however, agree in any way to hang it by the neck until dead. While the movie is supposed to be set sometime in the near future (a line which the cartoon and comic danced across occasionally) I found it difficult to accept the possibility of powered armor approximately the size of football gear.. especially powered armor that lets the wearer move fast enough to keep up with a speeding vehicle.

If you’re not familiar with the G.I. Joe mythos, I’d like to direct you to the Joepedia, which is a wiki of all things G.I. Joe. However, if you do decide to see this movie, not a whole lot of the information will be relevant so it’ll be background information at best.

G.I. Joe appears to have been filmed in ADD-vision. There is an absurd amount of action going on and you’ll need medication of some kind to keep up with all of it, assuming that you don’t want to see it multiple times. The action is over the top – from a Humvee with pop-out surface-to-surface missiles to nanotech weapons to an underwater city (okay, so that was just cool) – this movie has it all… even unsubtle nods to catchphrases from the original cartoon (which started to get to me after a while).

I think it’s interesting how nanotech and augmented reality are beginning to infiltrate pop culture.

The fairest thing I can say is that it sucked less than the original G.I. Joe movie… or maybe just as much, only in different ways.

In a nutshell, unless you want to see what someone can do with an incredibly high special effects budget, don’t bother seeing this movie. You’ll demand two hours of your life back, which not even I can grant you.

Below the cut lie spoilers.. proceed at your own risk.

Security clearance.. holy shit, you’re doing it wrong!

And now, some ideas that I won’t even bother fleshing out because they stand pretty well on their own:

The Baroness is Duke‘s ex-wife (or ex-fiancee’ – it’s hard to tell)?!? More’s the point, the Baroness is a mind-controlled dupe? Sorry, I have a hard time buying that.

If nothing else, this movie gives Scarlett and Breaker more screen time than the cartoon ever did. In fact, they were more useful characters in this movie than they ever were.

Dennis Quaid must have lost a bet. Either that, or he’s trying to redeem himself for The Day After Tomorrow, in which case he fails. Miserably.

General Hawk gets taken out early in the movie, which may have been a nod to Duke being gravely injured in the original movie.

I found the scene in which a particle accelerator is required to activate the nanotech in the warheads entirely gratuitous. I hate flashy science fiction (and FX) that are there solely for the sake of being flashy. All things considered, I’d rather that money go toward making a script not suck.

We get to see Zartan in action, and he looks a little like Stelarc, actually.

Doctor Mindbender is the Baroness’ kid brother??? (I don’t care if that’s Rex and not Doctor Mindbender in that nanotech lab… as far as I’m concerned, he’s Mindbender. That other guy’s a weed.)

You just don’t see flashbacks in movies very often these days.

Dear Scarlett: It’s not Celtic, dammit! The language is Northern Scots – Destro is Scottish. (Courtesy of Lyssa, who knows these things.)

Doctor Mindbender/Rex becomes Cobra Commander? What the fucking fuck?!?

(Yes, I know that Rex was only referred to as the Doctor in the movie and the weedy-looking guy in the bunker was supposed to be Dr. Mindbender. I’ve reconned myself to believe that Rex was actually Mindbender, partially because Mindbender was a ruthless son-of-a-bitch with a penchant for hypertech and mind control, which Rex shared in spades. Plus, his life-support mask had a monocle mounted over one eye. And while we’re at it, how is it that something like a lab in the G.I. Joe universe could turn a science geek in the military into a ravening madman? I’ll admit, however, that the injuries that Rex suffered could easily have fucked with his brain and turned him, but it seems a little too… radical for such a short period of time.)