Aug 10, 2009

[Movies] G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)

G.I. Joe: The Rise of CorbaFor some reason, 80's nostalgia is totally in these days and that can start along the lines of fashion and music and extends all the ways to movie franchises and Saturday morning cartoons. Let's face it - there's something about that time that has a lot of us wishing for those simpler times and thus inevitably big business and studios are trying to capitalize on that.

I have to admit that I was really scared when I heard that they were making a live-action movie based on the classic G.I. Joe toys and the cartoon and comic book lines it eventually spawned. It's not that I was a big G.I. Joe fan or anything, but I did recognize that it was one of those key shows that defined the 80's for a lot of us and to have Hollywood potentially ruin or bastardize it as they have with nearly every other classic franchise they've tried to bring to the silver screen and failed was pretty scary.

Thankfully, it didn't turn out quite as bad, and let's take a look at how this happened.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is literally a cartoon made real by the directing prowess of Stephen Sommers (of The Mummy fame). The basic premise is still there - G.I. Joe is still a highly trained military force, although now it's also high secretive and exists to meet any threat that no other military can handle. Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) encounter G.I. Joe when their convoy carring 4 special nanotechnology warheads is ambushed by Baroness (Sienna Miller) and her forces. The two soldiers are the sole survivors and end up getting brought along by the Joes since it turns out Duke recognized Baroness to be his former fiancee. On the other end, James McCullen (Christopher Eccleston) of M.A.R.S. is playing a double game since he sent the Baroness to recover the warheads he developed for NATO as part of some larger plan that has yet to be revealed.

TOKYO - JULY 27:  (L-R) Actors Marlon Wayans, ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Like any translation of a fan classic, there were some pieces that didn't quite make sense to me but weren't exactly game-changing just yet. The fact that Snake Eyes (Ray Park) now had lips on his suit and Scarlet (Rachel Nicols) now seems to own the world's noisiest crossbow are just some examples. Then again, there were other bits that were clearly nods to the fans like the scope that Breaker (Saïd Taghmaoui) had on all the time and the styling of some of the vehicles.

While one can never expect a faithful adaptation of any work when it comes to Hollywood, this was a nice attempt given the generous amounts of elements from the original series and the balance of not going to crazy with some of the additions like how they choose to limit the use of those darned accelerator suits that made the trailers so scary to fans of the series. The cast was decent enough although some of the casting choices struck me as a bit odd. One has to admit that Arnold Vosloo (of The Mummy fame as well) looked like he could have played a more visually similar Destro while I will never understand how any of the Wayans brothers continue to find employment in Hollywood, period.

Beyond that, the movie was a lot of action sequences (not necessarily fights), crazy gadgets, ridiculously timely escapes and cheesy dialog. Yes, it really was like a live-action cartoon given it clearly didn't requite adult-level intelligence to appreciate the movie. It just seems to appeal to your more base or even childish impulses and it gives you action porn of sorts that just settles in your brain rather nicely. It's not a bad movie but not a good one either. You don't have to be a fan to like it but it helps if you saw the original series.

This is also one of the first adaptations that has me reacting rather strongly as a "fan" in terms of one of the characters - the Baroness. I mean seriously, what is the Baroness without her cheesy, stereotype European accent? Where was the maniacal laughter? That's the kind of thing that I wanted to see and instead we got this weird girl with an American accent. I think G.I. Joe Resolute got this concept a lot better and managed to appeal to us fans more.

One last thing that this movie has taught us is this - a M.A.S.K. movie is apparently possible. LOL

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra gets 4 noisy exploding crossbow bolts out of a possible 5.

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