Thursday, January 5, 2012


I make fun of G I Joe the Rise of Cobra a lot…because it deserves it.

However, I did see it twice the week it was released, several times since, and it remains   mindlessly enjoyable, a hoot and a half, and full of crazy action.
Yes, you look cool, but it was still goofy.
While not quite as good as the original Transformers, it’s also not nearly as dumb and drawn out as Transformers 2, and a close third place for the summer of 2009 (Star Trek is still way in the lead; I think I liked Monsters vs. Aliens a little bit more than Joe, it gets bonus points for jokes about classic Fifties’ sci-fi.)

Every time I try to talk about this movie, though, I can’t help complaining about what they did "wrong", proving that I'm a total geek, I suppose.

The overwhelming impression is that its a two hour big stupid pile of fun that flies by just as fast on each viewing. (There are probably spoilers below, but seriously, if you're looking to G I Joe for intricate secret plot elements, I can't really help you.)

My family all liked it as well.  (My wife thought the fight scenes were too long, but that just means...there were fight scenes.  It’s like me saying the talking scenes are too long in a drama, a given really.)

I honestly get the feeling that they make some of the changes to the source material in this genre solely to annoy me.  Really, no one else is going to notice/care about this stuff.  I'm convinced there's someone at Paramount going,

"Duke's role in G I Joe for over 25 years has been as the First Sergeant and field won't affect the movie at all, but if we make him a Captain instead, between that and Storm Shadow using a gun, Jeff will grumble throughout the film and his sister and/or wife will have to tell him to shut up a lot...
Let’s do it!"

(Hey, at least I didn't stand up and yell at the screen like in Batman Returns.  See, I've mellowed with age.)

Duke was not really "Dukeish" anyway, but even Larry Hama found having both Hawk and Duke there kind of redundant, and Hawk was really well done.
(Except that it made me even sadder that no one got around to making a Dennis Quaid as classic Sixties Swinger Hal Jordan Green Lantern film, especially after the touchy feely one we got last year.)
The Hal Jordan machine, Zero Defects?
Proof of the redundancy was in Hawk's excellent use of the line "Knowing is Half the Battle", shortly followed by Duke's much weaker repeating of it moments later.

My biggest nerdly complaint comes from Hollywood's need to have all the main characters interconnected from forever ago. (Just in general, but also about this movie.)  Really, the Joker doesn't need to kill Batman's parents to be his arch enemy, and the Kingpin doesn't have to have been working for the Fixer to make Daredevil hate him. You can establish character relationships through a thing some people call STORYTELLING.

In this case, they scrapped most of the Destro/Baroness back story (and front story, and side story), all of the Snake Eyes/Cobra Commander back story, much of the Snake eyes/Storm Shadow back story (completely removing Stalker from any part of the story), and any of Zartan’s story.  All of this cool stuff was replaced with a convoluted Baroness/Commander/Duke back story that turns the Baroness from one of the few competent self-sufficient female action villains into, basically, a damsel in distress.
I missed this ulitmate Power Couple.
Added to the Baroness’ transformation was turning Cover Girl from a Wolverine Missile Tank Driver to a glorified secretary/"surprise" victim. This made the film lose a great deal of the "Strong female characters who fought equally alongside their male counterparts" that Larry Hama's original G I Joe comics and file cards were praised for.
(Says the father of a daughter)

Oh, dang! I missed Larry Hama's cameo every time I’ve seen it. Guess it’s time to watch it again.

In case you haven’t noticed, this review will be done in the spirit of the movie itself.  A large mix of ups and downs filled with rapid fire impressions, thoughts and emotions without much of a thread to hold it all together.

The "Yo Joe!"  was late and lame. (This assessment is confirmed by my wife and sister, who have no emotional ties to the property.) It should have been made louder prouder, and preferably by someone wearing a jetpack carrying the American Flag (Yes, I'm demanding.)

In a film called The Rise of Cobra even if Cobra doesn't "rise" till the very end, there needs to be a scene with at least one person standing with fists in the air after said rising, yelling, "COOOOOOO-BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!"

Snake eyes didn't have his Uzi.  Then again, in a world where you can fire hundreds of rounds from a pistol without reloading...who needs an Uzi?

They used Heavy Duty instead of Roadblock, when all Heavy Duty is, is a copy/replacement for the better known Roadblock.  Then they had him act much more like a heavily armed version of Stalker, which worked.  That left it open for the Rock coming in as Roadblock in the sequel.  I’d be much happier with a real Stalker, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for poor Lonzo Wilkinson to show up.

Scarlet's high tech crossbow was nifty and makes more sense than using a regular one in the bizarre little world in my head.

The USS Flag, woo!

A Night Raven...woo! (With Wild Weasel's helmet appearing on Ripcord as he ejects, extra woo!)

Breaker blowing Bubbles, extra double woo!!

Before the procedure, Zartan's sole claim to being a "master of disguise" is that he can kill people and steal their clothes without ripping or staining them.  Very masterful.

Having G I Joe be an international team instead of "Real American Heroes" didn't bother me as much as I thought.  Probably because accents do not foreigners make.  The team acted like you'd expect any U.S. based team to act.  Plus with an American General headed team based in Egypt and a very obviously British president, I assumed that in this "Not too distant future", the U.S. has taken over the entire world.

Duke and Ripcord were known by their Joe names of "Duke” and “Ripcord" before joining G I Joe.  Based on conversations in the film, so were General Hawk and Snake Eyes.  Since no other non-Joe soldiers shown had nick names; it looks like that is how the elite team picks its members. 
"Send all the candidates with normal names home please, they have no place here."

Brendan Fraser's cameo as Sergeant Stone served an in movie purpose to confirm that the new guys were Joes by giving his approval. I think it was also to confirm to the audience that this was a fun and goofy movie by the actor giving his approval.

So close...throw me a bone here people.
But really, he wanted his character to be descended from Rick O'Connell in the Mummy films, Rock 'N Roll from the original 12 G I Joe's name is Craig O'Connell...

Wouldn't it make more sense to have him just be Rock n Roll?

And would it have killed them to throw in a couple bars of the cartoon theme?

Or one stinkin; Trubble Bubble? 

See, they do this stuff just to annoy me....

I'll shut up now.

They did a nifty little prologue that made up a very nice origin for Destro's mask...and then didn't use that mask.  The only reason I can figure is maybe they thought the silly looking CGI Destro face would make the new ridiculous Cobra Commander mask look better by comparison.

Apparently someone found the awesome personal armor from the Starship Troopers novel that was left out of that movie, and stuck them in G I Joe as the accelerator suits...  Since they indicated they had more than the two suits they gave the "new guys" you'd think they'd use them more often.  Maybe they ran out of batteries. 

Insanely nifty chase scene though. Bonus points for having things in Paris explode…

Occasionally for no reason…

Including, in at least on instance, a tree…

Kevin J. Anderson's cameo as Doctor Mindbender makes me wish he was in the whole movie as the insane scientist inventing bad guy tech.  I much prefer Cobra Commander as a failed used car salesman who creates a terrorist organization through a pyramid scheme. (Wow, I love what stuff like that looks like when it’s typed out.)  As good as Anderson was though, they should have let the character keep the monocle, or the handlebar mustache...probably both. (I’m being demanding again, aren’t I?)

The funniest lines came from the audience:

My cousin asking my sister (who then lived in Alaska), “So, how close is that to your house?” when the polar bear was frightened by the craft breaking through the ice.

My brother in law saying "I didn't think it was possible to copy all of the Star Wars movies in one film" mere seconds before Storm Shadow connected his two Katana together into a double bladed weapon.

Then, “I guess it is".

After the big "cliffhanger reveal" of the villain's true plot in the end scene.
(A situation that had been telegraphed in MULTIPLE obvious scenes throughout the film.)

"OH MY GOD!!!!"
Spoken by a woman a couple rows ahead of us, who was apparently watching a different film.

Again despite all my ranting, I'll be there opening night for the sequel if possible. As big a fan of Steven Sommers that I am, I’m not joining the camp of those pitching a giant geek hissy fit because G.I Joe 2 will be handled by the director of the Justin Beiber concert film.

I look forward with great anticipation to the COLD SLITHER concert on the White House Lawn! (Does anyone know if Arnold Vosloo can sing?)

You'll be Joining us Soon!

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