Today saw the release of the DVD for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, the much-maligned summer blockbuster based on the enduring Hasbro toy line. I resisted seeing this when it was in theaters over the summer because the previews made it look like baby vomit, and I had no desire to spend ten bucks and a couple of hours in a movie theater to have my intelligence insulted, no matter how desperate I was for air-conditioning. Thank goodness for Redbox, because I only had to pay $1 to have my intelligence insulted in the comfort of my own home.
Actually, I didn’t think G.I. Joe was really all that bad. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a lousy film, it just wasn’t the crime against humanity I was expecting it would be. It helped a bit that I didn’t go in to the movie expecting to see the G.I. Joe from my childhood. Director Stephen Sommers and crew aren’t interested in that G.I. Joe, they would prefer to create a G.I. Joe for the new generation. And that’s fine, and in that sense, they’ve mostly succeeded. I can see kids going street rat crazy for the movie, what with the nonstop violence, copious amounts of explosions, not-very-funny one-liners and hot ninja-on-ninja action.
There were a few things about the movie that I enjoyed. (Spoiler alert, activate!) For the most part, the cast was excellent, particularly Sienna Miller as the Baroness and Christopher Eccleston as James McCullen/Destro. Miller seems to be having a blast with her role, and Eccleston oozes douchebaggery. Also bringing the awesomeness is Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Rex/The Doctor/Cobra Commander, an inspired bit of quasi-stuntcasting that works better than it sounds like it should.
There are also some killer geek-out moments, mostly due to the presence of Storm Shadow and Snake-eyes. Is it wrong that I liked watching Lil’ Storm Shadow and Lil’ Snake-eyes wail on each other during the origin flashbacks more than I liked watching the grown-ups fight? Probably, but there you go.
Of course, The Rise of Cobra has plenty of faults. The special effects can be impressive at times, but after a two hour barrage of one effect after another, I’m surprised my eyeballs weren’t completely numb. Every frame of the movie looked soulless and fake.
I know that summer blockbusters generally require a healthy suspension of disbelief on the part of the viewer in order to work, but Ye Gods those Accelerator suits Duke and Ripcord use during the Paris chase scene are ridiculous. Wouldn’t their bodies have been ground to powder after about five seconds of running around the streets in those things? Suspension of disbelief is one thing, but the total suspension of the laws of physics is another.
Speaking of Duke and Ripcord, they’re my biggest problem with The Rise of Cobra. Channing Tatum and Marlon Wayans are awful, and since they’re the main Joes, that’s a huge problem. The script tries to cast them as the typical buddy action flick leads, but the lack of chemistry between Wayans and Tatum torpedoes that idea. Wayans tries to be funny but comes off looking like a tool more often than not thanks to very unfunny dialogue, and Tatum is simply not a very good actor.
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra pulled in a modest $150 million domestically, good enough to earn a green light for a sequel. If Sommers can iron out a few kinks in the first film’s formula, he may have something worth watching for the sequel.