G.I. Joe, the Rise of Cobra (2009)

Friday, June 15, 2012

A summer blockbuster hit, G.I Joe was more than likely released during the height of summer blockbuster season to compete with the likes of Transformers and X-Men. Not as brilliant compared to some, it somehow managed to keep me thoroughly enthralled while on the edge of my seat.

In a time when punishment was severe for anyone caught going against king or his fellow man, James McCullen was found dealing arms and subsequently was severely punished for his crimes. His sentence was not death, but wearing an iron mask the rest of his life, marring him. Before his sentence was carried out, he warns his captors nothing will end with his demise, instead his children, their children and all descendants will continue. Today, MARS Industries is one of the leading companies, even guaranteeing the security of the President of the United States. Run by James McCullen (Christopher Eccleston), the company is unveiling something much larger than anything before, a warhead created from nanomites.

Recruited to ensure the safe delivery of one of the first shipments of the “nanoheads,” is an elite group of special ops led by Duke (Channing Tatum), a decorated captain and his friend Rip (Marlon Wayans). The team is heavily armed with Apache helicopters offering aerial support when they are ambushed by a mysterious aircraft which appears seemingly out of nowhere but heavily armed and in a matter of minutes takes out the helicopters and those on the ground, all but Duke and Rip. Led by Ana (Sienna Miller), whom Duke shares a past with, the fighters seem invincible, but fortunately Duke manages to save the warheads, just before another mysterious force appears, claiming support. They are G.I Joes, a force specially trained to remain incognito unless really needed. Led by General Hawk (Dennis Quaid), Duke and Rip are skeptical at first, but want “in,” only to learn they don’t ask, but rather are asked. The best Joes consist of the mysterious and silent Snake Eyes (Ray Park), and the opinionated, fiery redheaded Scarlett (Rachel Nicholas). What the fearless protectors don’t realize is the danger they’re in. After an attack on home base, the battle has just begun.

Typically this wouldn’t be something I’d be apt to watch, but for some reason, its promo spots did their job: I became curious -- likely in part to its stars Tatum and Quaid. Shockingly enough, the cast is actually a strong group of performers. Channing may not be everyone’s initial choice for a special ops captain due to his baby-face appearance and soft-spoken demeanor, but he does the role justice. The supporting cast of Sienna Miller (who plays a duel persona brilliantly well; one minute she is endearingly sweet, the next more wicked than anyone) and Eccelston were equally good, even such stars as Brendan Fraser and Jonathan Pryce have minor roles. To its credit, G.I Joe is decently tense and the “baddies” all play their parts to perfection … so much so that one had me wanting to punch him! His trademark whistle somehow grated my nerves worse than anything. One of the more important things in a film are the characters. And this has a fantastic group of them. Any role, any genre can go a long way in convincing me of the plots merit so long as I like the characters and the on-screen chemistry; these characters were wonderfully written and share a splendid camaraderie. The comedy offsets the more serious moments and yet isn’t overwhelming so as to divert attention from serious situations.

I’ll admit this wasn’t what I’d initially thought it was going to be, for some reason, it interested me but not enough that it led to further research. I didn’t realize it was about “real people” (superheroes with super natural powers stuck in my mind) and certainly wasn’t expecting a military story (I know, right!?). Some of the Joes training and/or skills may be stretching “real” abilities a bit, but what really may cause that thinking are appearances. The shear amount of high-tech gear, weaponry and “cool” suits make for perfect scenarios in setting the tone of a fantastic action flick. There are instances that may bother people in regards to military training. Much of the story revolves around a mind control program, which is administered to soldiers trained to be merciless killers. I am not sure how I felt about that aspect, but perhaps it’s important to mention that this wasn’t the hero’s idea. There may be some barbs subtly aimed at wounding the military, but I confess if so, I didn’t notice as I watched this and ultimately enjoyed it as a mindless (no pun intended) action flick.

Although I am not a fan of other such franchises, I’m going to say that I found this creatively unique. The concept of giving the heroes and villains past connections was clever. I realize that has been done before, but somehow it seemed “different.” Part of it being that characters prove viewers wrong (or they did me) a couple times; once for the better, another for the worse. Mostly this depicts good triumphing over evil, and no matter what, audiences want that. If there is one thing that left me a bit “unsettled” it’s the end. Starting out upbeat (due to good-natured jesting and a sweet declaration), it ends with America’s potential fate. Right now G.I Joe has everything “right” to become a successful series – the sequel is indeed releasing later this month. Something I’m unashamedly looking forward to seeing (this one made me a fan). So long as it would remain within the same foundations, it’s tons of fun. From different things I’ve read about the X-Men and Transformers series, this seems better, moral viewing and while this still has its share of cautionary material, at the same time it was a blast to watch that “shook” up my normal, “comfortable” viewing. And I loved it.

(Parental review: In the first ten minutes, a military unit comes under attack. Various chase scenes are tense including an underwater climax. Consistent mayhem is the key making it difficult to discern what’s happening. A woman is run through with a sword, a man is stabbed also. Two men have needles inserted into their heads [one for evil purposes]. A scientific doctor is a revolting character who isn’t ashamed of using his “skills” for evil purposes. A snake bites a man, showing he feels nothing. Profanity includes sh*t, basta*d, etc. and misuses of the Lord’s name are uttered several times. Women wear form fitting clothes and plunging necklines; one is a flirt and freely kisses other men, despite being married. Sweet flashbacks show a couple playfully kissing. G.I. Joe is rated PG13.)


  1. I actually think I might have seen this film in theaters, back when I was living in town. It was pretty cool, from what I remember.

  2. Really? That is cool. :-)

    I didn't see it on the big screen but I'd have liked too - it is that kind of movie. (I rented it either on one of the rare occasions the house was empty except for me or the Super Bowl - still to this day I'm the only one who has seen it.) I probably won't see the sequel either but I'll enjoy it all the more once the DVD arrives.

  3. When this came out on DVD my dad and I made it a daddy/daughter movie. Aside from some of the weird nano stuff I really enjoyed it. Glad you did too!

    Yeah, I'm not so sure I'm going to see the sequel at all anymore. It doesn't look like it's going to live up to Rise of the Cobra.

    Great review, by the way!

  4. That is cool, Rosie. :-) I thought this one was such fun - I've seen it a couple times since that initial time and each time like it a bit more.

    I will definitely see the sequel, just maybe not in theaters. It looks like basically everyone from this movie either dies or isn't returning - and yeah, I do NOT like those odds. :-)

    Thanks for stopping by - do so again soon.

  5. I enjoyed SWATH, but I wasn't satisfied with the romance. I thought it was under-developed (though I heard there's going to be a second movie...so maybe some development there?) and the love triangle was unnecessary. Chris was as awesome as ever, and in my opinion Kristen made a pretty good Snow White. :)

    Great review!

  6. Really? I thought the barely-there-but-definite-attraction between Snow and the Huntsman was really... intriguing. I love that it was he who saved her with the kiss and I loved their subtle banter. I think part of my disappointment was with Stewart. I liked her a good deal better than I expected but I think there would have been someone more suited to the role! Nevertheless as you say, she wasn't bad. :-)

    I am so hoping that the sequel materializes! As you say, there could be a great deal more development in that.

    Chris was fabulous!

    Thanks bunches for stopping by - do so again soon, Renu. :-)


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