Saturday, August 15, 2009

REVIEW: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra...

I really hate big budget action films.

This year, as with most summer movie seasons, we get more than our fair share of big budget intellectual black holes such as the horrible Transformers 2, and Wolverine. However, not all is lost in the action genre, especially when, also this year, we have had such fantastic outings like The Hurt Locker. Albeit, The Hurt Locker is a vastly different film from the other two turds, but along with Star Trek and Crank: High Voltage, this has been one of the better years for action films.

Now we have the big screen adaptation of G.I. Joe, and it falls right in with the norm of no style, no substance, action films that have seemed to bully their way into the top of the box office nearly everytime one is released. Based on the famous toy line, Joe follows an elite military unit comprised of special operatives known as G.I. Joe, operating out of The Pit, takes on an evil organization led by a notorious arms dealer. That's really all there is to the film. That's it.

Take that simplistic plotline, based on a TOY, and you have the makings of an awful film, right? Well, then add just a dash of hack directing from Stephen Sommers, who previously did the Mummy franchise and Van Helsing. The film doesn't look bad, no, quite on the contrary. It looks like possibly the worst film of the year. Basically, the film is a live action cartoon, in the veing of Speed Racer, just without any sort of skill or continuity. A person shoots a gun, SOMETHING gets hit. No need for any sort of continuity or anything, just point, and shoot, in both the action, and film making. The film does shine during a few scenes, but fights between young and old Snake Eyes/Stormshadow can only go so far. Sommers takes the same ridiculous Michael-Bay-Without-The-Ego style that he emplored in the Mummy franchise, and just amps up the campy and ridiculously awful CGI. Never has ice looked so cardboard.

The cast here is mostly top notch, for what the film calls of them. The film is, as I stated, basically a live action cartoon, and in the roles of Cobra and the Baroness, this is perfectly pitched. Joseph Gordon Levitt (last seen in 500 Days of Summer) plays Cobra with a certain energy and spark that is also seen in Sienna Miller's Baroness, that made both of them really enjoyable to watch, and make both of them really interesting characters going into the already announced sequel. Dennis Quaid is also a joy to watch, as he's chewing the scenery up like a good day at Jack in The Box. However, where the film needs it's best performance, in the role of Duke, it simply gets Channing Tatum, who I'm starting to give up on. Based SOLELY on two performances (A Guide To Reckognizing Your Saints and Stop Loss), I have had faith in the model turned thespian. However, with Step Up, this, and the rest of his schlock filled catalog, I'm starting to think he may just not be able to act.

Sure, the performances are bad, but they aren't helped by the screenplay. It's an awful piece of writing, and does no help to the film. I get it, it's basically a masters class in camp cinema, but can we get ONE good bit of dialouge? Just one, that's all I'm asking. Instead, we get an action scene, which cuts to a flashback, which is ANOTHER action scene. The action here is constant and often, but when the action is written poorly and shot by a narcoleptic kid with downs syndrome, all is undone.

That said, there are a few things to mention that make this film not completely awful. The interactions between Snake Eyes and Stormshadow were amazing, particularly their backstory. The violence between the two children playing yound Snake Eyes and Stormshadow was harsh, and intriguing to watch on screen. The violence, while shot awful, is hard for a PG-13, which made the film a bit more enjoyable. The film as a whole is basically a live action Team America, but when you have Levitt, Quaid and Miller hamming it up, it's a bit easier to digest. Oh, did I mention the Paris scene which was shown in the trailers, was really really well done, and it's refreshing to see action shot in single takes, instead of MTV style editing.

G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra is NOT a good film. It's just not the worst film ever made. Fun and enjoyable, if you don't mind checking your mind at the door, in a summer full of dumb action films that are also not fun, this film made me take a round off from my newly picked up Russian Roulette addiction. Transformers 2 will do that to a man.


Go see something good!

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