A blog about movies and filmmaking.

Knowing is half the battle and the other half is CGI

In action on August 11, 2009 at 3:16 am

I was really hesitant to do a write up on GI JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA. I felt that the movie nearly equaled my expectations, of it being a big, loud, stupid movie about characters that I vaguely remember from my childhood as a cartoon and toys. But, considering that I think that this movie is better than the other fun failure this summer (X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE) and the much worse, but equally explosion-driven TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN, and I wrote about them… Well, I kind of have to do this one too.

As I mentioned, GI JOE works as a ridiculously, overblown exercise in spending hundreds of millions of dollars to basically visually recreate how an 8 year old would play with his GI Joes in the backyard (or in his room). The computer graphics work well enough, but look fake and shiny enough to give everything kind of a sheen of plastic and faux reality. The story of the movie, is pretty weak, and cliched; but the action – which there is a lot of – is a wall of sound and thunder. The acting is stiff, overblown and doesn’t do much to actually create real characters.

The cast though, is pretty fantastic and if/when they make a sequel, I’d like to see the filmmakers actually come out with a solid story and giving us more than just big action. We have Christopher Eccleston, as McCullen a weapons developer/seller. He’s also the main bad guy of the movie, who is helped by the character “The Baroness”, played by Sienna Miller and “Storm Shadow”, played by Byung-hun Lee. They’re also assisted by “The Doctor” and a legion of anonymous soldiers who are physically and mentally altered to be unstoppable (which is a cool departure from the normal, bumbling foot-soldiers, that most movies use). On the good guy’s side, we’re first introduced to Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans), who’s whole team get taken out by the bad guys, in order to grab a case with some nano-mite missiles. Then the Joes show up, featuring the red headed Scarlett (Rachel Nichols), Snake Eyes (Ray Park, once again playing a non-talking – or dubbed – character) and Heavy Duty, played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (LOST’s Mr. Eko). The GI Joe team is headed by General Hawk (Dennis Quaid), and he accepts Duke and Ripcord to the team in order to stop these bad guys (since it’s the “Rise” of Cobra, they’re not yet called that.)

There are also a couple of other cameos, from director Stephen Sommers’ previous movies; Arnold Vosloo plays Zartan, Kevin O’Connor plays Dr. Mindbender and Brendan Fraser as a seemingly unnamed Joe, who only shows up to referee a sparring session between Duke and Snake Eyes (which is, I have to say, totally BS in how it ends). And speaking of Sommers, he was the quantity to which I was most dreading about this movie. I enjoyed his previous directorial efforts in the original THE MUMMY movie (I haven’t seen, nor ever intend to see, the sequels), but that’s really been it. I didn’t care too much for DEEP RISING or VAN HELSING. I respect that he understands that he’s making popcorny schlock, and plenty enough people enjoy what he does that he’s able to do it – unlike the similarly derided directors Renny Harlin, or the more prolific Michael Bay – that I can respect the avenues he takes. That being said, this movie is only fun in that it’s aimed solely at the child, and child-like audience. It’s not meant to be art, or even to be more than the sum of it’s parts. So, the fact that I actually had a good time, and laughed at all the appropriate – and quite a few of the seemingly inappropriate – times, means that this movie was as equal to what I was expecting, as opposed to how far below the movies earlier this summer like WOLVERINE and TRANSFORMERS 2, were far below it.

I said a long time ago, and many times since, that all the GI JOE movie really needed to do to succeed was do the Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow storyline and fight right, and I’d call it a success. So, finally I just want to say, that this miniature part of the story pretty much equals my opinion for the entire movie. It was pretty bad ass to see them facing off. The fight-choreography was cool, but not really that great and it was pretty silly; but I enjoyed it.

So, take that however you will.


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