Fans will be upset but if you can remove yourself from the source material, it’s a fun popcorn flick due for release as the summer movie season begins to come to a close.
G.I. Joe The Rise of Cobra is the second of the summer tent pole/popcorn fare based around an eighties line of toys, cartoons, and comic books. The first being late June’s bloated and boring Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen; fortunately this is the better of the two.
The film opens in 1641 during the English Civil War. We are introduced to a Scottish arms dealer by the name of James McCullen (David Murray) who the French have found guilty of arms dealing to both sides during the war. He isn’t punished to death but is treated to a gruesome fate that leaves him forever scared in an iron mask like contraption. McCullen swears that his family’s name will forever destroy any of those that get in their way and deal arms forever.
Flash forward to “the not to distant future” or about 10 years from present day and an Arms presentation to members of a NATO committee regarding new Nano technology warheads that are taking place. The Nano machines in the war heads can eat through metal and decimate whole city blocks much quicker than a nuclear bomb and with far less collateral damage. The presentation is being given by James McCullen XXIV(Christopher Eccleston) owner/operator of Military Armament Research Syndicate or M.A.R.S. Watching from the shadows with a look of concern is General Clayton “Hawk” Abernathy the leader of an elite ten-nation force known as G.I. Joe.
Production of the first four Nano war heads are to be transported by the U.S. military specifically by Conrad “Duke” Hauser (Channing Tatum) and his close friend Wallace “Ripcord” Weems (Marlon Wayans). During the transportation, the war heads are nearly intercepted by shadowy forces that have them out gunned, out numbered and out resourced in every way. Had it not been for the G.I. Joe “Alpha” squad stepping in to assist with recovery of the war heads and a personal connection between Duke and one of the shadowy characters “Anna” AKA The Baroness (Sienna Miller) the warheads would have fallen into the wrong hands.
This all sets into motion a series of events that sees two career military friends Duke and Ripcord finding their way on to the G.I. Joe team. From there it is a constant mad dash to get to the bad guys before they are able to do wrong with the Joe’s “Alpha” team consisting of Shana M. “Scarlett” O’Hara (Rachel Nichols), Lamont A. “Heavy Duty” Morris (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Abdel “Breaker” Shaz (Said taghmaoui), and Snake-Eyes (Ray Park)
The thing I enjoyed most about the film is that it never takes itself too seriously. It isn’t done with goofy comic relief similar to director Stephen Sommers’ earlier work on the Mummy films or even Transformers but feels more natural considering the characters and the situations they are placed in. The action is filmed well, as it’s never difficult to tell what’s going on. Some of the best action comes from the clashes between Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow (Lee Byung-hun).
The one thing that I think will have the fan community up in arms is the amount of creative license taken with character back-stories and the way that they intertwine. Some are kind of close to their original stories. Others don’t adhere to the source material at all. Being that I am a solid 20 years removed from my memories of the hit ’80’s cartoon I didn’t take too much offense with what they did with them. With this new take on the material, it was nice to see some homage paid to some characters and nice to see others in a new light.
The film is well paced coming in at an almost exact two hours with credits. The accelerator suits that had quite a bit of negative reaction from most people interested in the film due to their prominent placement in much of the marketing for the film do not come across as cheesy in the film as they do in the trailer. Neither does Cobra Commander, when seen in context of the film it doesn’t come across as awkward and strange as the toy packaging does.
All in all I feel this is a pretty good fun action-packed popcorn film that knows what it is and has a good time with it.
I give it 2.5 Double Bubbles out of 5
by John Coovert