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Sunday, 28 August 2016

Weekend TV Movie Review: G.I Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Film4 (2009)

G.I Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Cast: Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Dennis Quaid, Ray Park, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Christopher Eccleston, Sienna Miller, Lee Byung-Hun 
Genre: Military Science Fiction Action 
Worldwide Lifetime Gross: $150, 201, 498

Plot: Armed with the latest in military & spy technology, the team of elite soldiers known as G.I Joe travel around the globe to wherever their services are needed. In their latest assignment, General Hawk (Dennis Quaid), Duke (Channing Tatum) & the rest of the G.I Joe team take on Destro (Christopher Eccleston), a corrupt arms dealer, & fight the growing threat of the mysterious Cobra organisation

'G.I Joke'

Live- action movies based on video games and Saturday Morning cartoons are rarely any good. Every time someone from Hollywood takes something, they dismantle it completely and completely ignore everything that made it memorable and great, especially for fans who grew up with those properties in the first place. G.I Joe: The Rise of Cobra, alongside the sequel, is one classic case of where the director has no idea of how it ought to be conceived, but rather instead on relying on flashy visuals to make up for everything else that is so poor. 

I have seen far worse movies than G.I Joe, but nothing could prepare me for the sheer disappointment and annoyance this movie's impression had left on me after seeing this effort. 

My comments on this film are based solely on my experience of being exposed to the G.I Joe animated series, and so I am comparing and contrasting both of them.

Based on a Saturday morning cartoon by the same makers of Transformers, Hasbro - who were also responsible for the toy line & known in the UK as Action Force, the script was penned by writers, who have had little to no exposure to the original animated series. I wasn't actually a massive follower of the cartoon when it aired in the early 80s. In fact, I was more of a Thundercats fan, but I was well aware that G.I Joe existed on TV. The all-black leather outfits on the G.I Joe members, but for Snake Eyes in this movie, look ridiculous & awful. The heavily armoured accelerator suits worn by Ripcord and Duke as they ran around the streets of Paris were clunky and beyond horrible - I don't know who the directors were trying to appeal to, but it certainly isn't towards the fans and viewers who grew up with cartoons like G.I Joe back in the 1980s. 

Stephen Sommers's direction has ruined what should have been a faithful rendition to the cartoon; he momentarily discarded everything associated with the original series and the original source material and went all hardcore, sexy, and yet making all the characters - make that the protagonists characters- dress and look the same with costume designer, Ellen Mironjnick's miserly all-black leather attire. Sommers has taken liberties with the franchise, and not in a good way. This is not the G.I Joe I remember as a child of the 1980s. 

The film's story based on a kids franchise that was one of the few well-known cartoons of the 80s is drivel: it consists of flashbacks with no actual details given as to what is at stake. Instead of telling a story from the start, we get scenes of characters shooting and hitting each other, poor dialogue & writing throughout and the Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow ninja rivalry reduced to a mere joke and with no real build-up or tension. & the reliance on one-line corny jokes, courtesy of Marlon Wayans as Ripcord didn't fly with me.

But the final straw of this film was The Baroness being romantically involved with the main protagonist and after being the main baddie, she falls for Duke (Channing Tatum) in the end. I've seen plenty of plot twists during my day, but this one was beyond ridiculous. In the actual canon, Duke never had a thing for The Baroness in the animated series, and there were no hints that implied such a thing. 

Pretty much everyone else but Joseph Gordon Levitt- who I thought made an interesting Cobra Commander, Ray Park as Snake Eyes and Lee Byung-Hun as Storm Shadow- were all severely miscast for me personally. I was worried at first about Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the antagonist, because he doesn't strike me as someone who'd play that role, but he did well here. Sort of. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the rest of the casting: Sienna Miller was woeful (should've got Kate Beckinsale instead IMO), yet her character was written woefully. Ripcord wasn't African- American: if they had to cast Marlon Wayans as a member of G.I Joe, why couldn't it have been someone like Doc or another Black G.I Joe character? Y'know, someone of the same ethnicity as Marlon. Also, I don't know what Dennis Quaid was doing here unless he badly needed the pay cheque. As good a casting as he was, Ray Park as Snake Eyes especially was wasted in this film: I understand the role required a martial arts- based actor, and though he looked terrific as Snake Eyes (but for those horrible plastic lips through the mask), I always saw him as a Gary Daniel's type, where he would get spoken word action hero roles. But with him not saying a word, you know you have a turkey of a movie on your hands when one of the very few characters remains mute throughout - & stands out as one of the better characters as well.

The film is also heavily reliant on CGI effects and almost every scene was presented in a way to give something 'cool' for the audience to look at. But nothing to back it up. 

This is far from what one would call it real American heroes. 

And, but for the special effects, fighting, scenes with Cobra Commander, everything else was just plain boredom. Take away the effects and fight scenes, and you have yourself one really boring movie. I suppose however that had it not been for the G.I Joe name, this would have been beyond acceptable and at most, satisfactory for a typical action movie. 

The title itself, 'The Rise of Cobra' could have delved a little bit more on the origins of the Cobra members such as Destro, Cobra Commander besides The Baroness and how and why they chose to become evil. Instead of some thought being put in, everything about this film seemed to be shoehorned in, with little thought given and no regards to the fan-base and the original source material. Then again, this movie was made to appease general movie audiences, who don't have a problem with it, rather than fans of G.I Joe. Nonetheless, for a movie that has characters that are memorable to fans, that in itself, is a huge mistake. 

By playing into the hands of general audiences, G.I The Rise of Cobra backfired - big time. 

I cease to see the day when we will get an overly decent & ultimately resolute live-action movie based on a Saturday Morning Cartoon property, but for now, I wouldn't hold my breath.

This was corny as hell. 

Final Verdict:

This mindless drivel and underwhelming film is another case of all hype, no substance. 

Non-existent narrative, some stupid plot twists, lots of unimpressive performances & a wooden movie throughout and one that tries to exert humour yet it ultimately fails and is boring in most places, G.I Joe may have been the Rise of Cobra indeed, but it is also a downfall for the franchise. 

When you have a live- action movie based on a cartoon series - and yet that film completely discards the original source material and instead has miscast actors in its place, has no narrative and which feels completely wooden, then quite frankly you have a complete and utter disaster in the making. Consistency-wise, G.I Joe: Rise of Cobra fails in every single respect.

If you don't care about the film being non-faithful to the cartoon series and eager to see an action movie, then by all means, watch G.I Joe

But for me, Go, Joe? No....

*score last updated: 8 July 2017*


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