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G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)

August 9, 2009

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written by: Stuart Beattie

produced by: Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Bob Ducsay and Brian Goldner

directed by: Stephen Sommers

rating: PG-13 (for strong sequences of action violence and mayhem throughout)

runtime: 118 min.

U.S. release date: August 7, 2009

DVD/Blu-ray release date: November 3, 2009

 

I had a lot more fun watching this summer action flick than I thought I would! The trailers didn’t give me much hope with those turbo suits. Still, I wanted to see if they could get something right in this film adaptation of the toy line, classic cartoon and comic book. A day later I cannot stop thinking of the adrenalized action scenes, the hi-tech weapons & vehicles, and the over-the-top plot that harkened back to so many of the outrageous storylines Joe fans know so well.

The film starts by giving a brief history of the Scottish McCullen clan who had an insatiable desire to control as much weaponry as possible. This appetite carries on into the not-too-distant-future, where we see a McCullen descendant (Christopher Eccleston) speaking to NATO as an arms dealer about a new metal-eating nanomite weapon. In attendance is a Gen. Hawk (Dennis Quaid) who looks on with curious trepidation. It’s obvious he knows what could happen if a weapon like this could do if it got in the wrong hands. Just as obvious, is the plot which is to be expected in a story that blasts its way from one attack to the next.

 

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Hawk and his G.I. Joe’s assist elite soldiers Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) in safeguarding this nanotech weapon from the hands of a certain slithering terrorist organization. Soon were introduced to thinly characterized Joes such as Scarlet (Rachel Nichols), Heavy Duty (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Breaker (Said Taghmaoui) and Snake Eyes (a role Ray Park was born to play) who pursue the likes of Baroness (played with sultry sass by Sienna Miller) and Storm Shadow (Lee Byun-hun). The cross-continental cat-and-mouse chase becomes one exciting F/X display after another. Ordinarily such shenanigans would be jarring, but this is G.I. Joe!

Anyone who recalls the cartoon, should remember how nonsensical the action was, how cornball the humor was and how, at best, the stories were always soap operatic. Director Stephen Sommers and screenwriter Stuart Beattie know the source material and deliver a fully-realized adaptation that maintains nostalgia while adding the inevitable updates. If hard-core Joe fans pick this movie apart than they really haven’t realized just what tone the cartoon or comic had.

 

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The action sequences are hyperactive and furiously paced, which keeps us from any down time where the screenwriters bore us with machismo camaraderie as well as trying to inject some touching character-building moments. Do us a favor – just don’t. Not in this kind of movie. The best acting we’ll get out of this movie is provided by Miller and Quaid, who take their roles seriously, something this kind of movie needs. If the material is taken with less tongue-in-cheek with a deeply invested cast, then the audience is left to find the funny. Instead of the screenwriters hitting us over the head with it.  The rest of the cast is rounded out with such actors as Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jonathan Pryce, Arnold Vosloo and Brendan Fraser (in a hilarious cameo).

Unlike another 80’s toyline summer film, here is a movie that parents can take their kids to. It’s got just about the same amount of violence as the first two “Mummy” movies. If you are well-versed in Joe nostalgia then you’ll certainly experience some moments that will make you smile, knowing what they were going for. Sure I was hoping for a more “24” type feel when I heard they were making a G.I. Joe film but this fits perfectly with what we know and after all, we know what knowing is.

 

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RATING: ***

 

 

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