Tuesday, August 18, 2009

491 - G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra review

There isn’t a single moment in “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” that couldn't have been written by a rather bright team of nine-year-olds. Give a set of smart kids a pile of action figures and tell them to act out a story, and I’d imagine the result would be startlingly close to this one. The heroes are invincible macho men, the villains are slimy foreigners, and the women are gorgeous yet decidedly nonsexual.

Those familiar with my reviews know my patience often wears thin with these movies, with their brain-dead stories and by-the-numbers action scenes sapping attention away from more worthwhile works (“The Hurt Locker” is playing now, for example). But you know what? On occasion, it’s fun to take nonsense as is, and proceed to judge it on the merits advertised. It’s the sort of film where the majority of audience members will know whether or not they’ll like it before going in.

“G.I. Joe” is perhaps as good as a movie about toys as one could hope for following “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” which is possibly the worst movie about toys that one could dread. Whereas the latter film took itself and its merciless bedlam seriously for forty minutes too long, “G.I. Joe” treats its imitation warfare like the silly joke that it is.

The story is reminiscent of the one in “Team America: World Police,” only minus the satire and sense of irony. The Joes are part of a military unit composed of soldiers from a variety of countries, though they let the Americans do all the serious work. Despite being a secret, the budget for this group must dwarf the GDP of most middle-sized countries; their base is underneath the pyramids of Egypt, their equipment allows them to move like Spider-Man, and they have a license to blow up whatever they see fit. The team even has a ninja, which caused me to consider that for every ninja used by the military in film, there are approximately zero used in real life.

The Joes battle a Scottish weapons manufacturer bent on world domination via an elaborate plan whose explanation is reserved for the sequel. Couldn’t the Joes, with their elite soldiers and “Star Trek” level equipment, be put to use tracking down Osama bin Laden or someone similar? I think that would be too boring for the Joes, who appear to enjoy facing opponents with equal or greater firepower.

It certainly is more fun for us that way. Director Stephen Sommers’ workmanlike approach towards the action scenes allows them to be enjoyed as the colorful war fantasies they are, visions intended to mine excitement from the juvenile areas of the mind from those who feel inclined to allow it to.

As the trailers have shown, the Eiffel Tower falls victim to one of the Joes’ battles, crashing to the earth in a calamity destined to cause dire harm to the Parisian tourism industry. “The French are very upset,” remarks the president to one of his ad visors, a line that should be able to compete for the greatest understatement in 2009 cinema. Lines like this would make “G.I. Joe” unbearable if it didn’t manage the trick of being as enjoyable as it is stupid.


Ramin said...

I got a laugh out of this review. Your dry humor works well when expressing commentary on a movie as stupid as this. To be fair, I haven't seen this movie, nor do I ever intend to see it, but my reaction to the trailer was an involuntarily face-palm. Though I haven't seen it I get the sense, from other people's reaction to this movie, that you may have been a bit too kind to the film. But like you said, why not review it on the merits advertised.

Blake Badker said...

i got a comment about this that i am holding because i think i am about to start getting paid for my comments. if i don't get paid i'll comment about it sometime this fall.

other than that, you seem really good and confident james. in a totally non-gay way (obligatory disclaim).

James said...

Thanks guys! I'm glad you liked this one. I later thought of a bunch of stuff that I'd like to add but since it was already published I just didn't bother.