G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Rating**1/2

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Before the actual film or even the trailers began, a TV advertisement for the latest GI Joe action figures was screened. I well remember this sort of thing from my Saturday morning TV of yesteryear. They show footage of the actual toys (with the kids hands visibly controlling them) then splice in live action battle footage to act as a catalyst for any impressionable young boys imagination…..while also activating his built in nagging instincts “Pleeeeease Mum, I really want one!” Why do I mention this? It’s not to state the obvious (ergo, this movie is designed to sell toys) but highlight the fact that Stephen Sommers appears to have taken the same approach with his directing. I swear some scenes must have had his hands digitally removed from the vehicle roofs, and muted his sound effect vocals too “Vrrrrom vroom, screeeech……..kaboom!”

I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong about that. Much of the film has an innocent dumb charm which will leave every little boy giddy with glee. There is also a campy element which ensures this sits comfortably as a guilty pleasure, aka – so bad that it’s good. You’ve got fancy military hardware which includes rocket launchers, lasers, and accelerator super-suits. There’s a hilarious mad scientist, ninjas fighting on a sinking submarine, robot fish, an artic lair, and Christopher Eccleston! By the third act you will be entertained despite the obvious flaws.

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Most of production design and visual effects are shockingly shoddy. They give the film a cheap Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter vibe, Kylie Minogue would not have looked out of place. One scene where the quality is raised slightly takes place on the streets of Paris. The “Joes” race to stop the bad guys destroying the Eiffel tower with a missile full of “nanobots” Wearing almost indestructible tech-suits, they jump over cars, through moving trains, and run at cheetah speed past oncoming traffic! This is the stuff childhood fantasy feeds on! Many kids will test their action figures to breaking point trying to recreate this scene. As a film, G.I. Joe has got major issues, especially in the sloppy first hour. But in the end it works as innocent fun. It’s full of cliché and hack writing but the core value is “hey wouldn’t it be super-cool if this blew up!” Sit back, laugh at the bad accents, pantomime villainy, and most of all, enjoy lovely Rachel Nichols! So overall this is not the disaster most of us predicted. It certainly surpasses the evil, heartless, hollow shell called Transformers II! In conclusion, Stephen Sommers is a hack with a heart. Regardless of my better judgement, I like him……. he made The Mummy.

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~ by thewholebuffalo on August 7, 2009.

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