Thursday, 6 August 2009

GI Joe: The Rise Of Cobra - Review

I think I may of said this once or twice this year but you should never judge a book by its cover, or in more relevant terms, you should never judge a movie by its trailer. A few months ago when I first caught glimpse of G.I. Joe every single negative emotion ran through my mind, and in a summer where the blockbusters have pretty much underwhelmed (Harry Potter and Terminator) or royally disappointed (Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen), when it came to essentially the last movie of the "big and dumb" variety for this season I admittedly was not optimistic. However, perhaps it was this sense of doom and gloom that made GI Joe the genuine surprise that it was to be. For those who are not aware G.I. Joe is (like Transformers) a toy franchise that has been around for nearly three decades appearing in various incarnations throughout that time, from essentially the first "doll" for boys to 80s action toys with its own animated series and movie. The Rise Of Cobra concentrating very much on the latter.

With a solid background in making fun action-adventure movies such as the grossly under rated Mummy and its sequel, as well as the so-so affair of Van Helsing, taking on the mantle of bringing the toy line to life was, thankfully, not Michael Bay but Mr. Stephen Sommers. Taking cues from some of the more nonsensical and outrageous plots from old James Bond films and various other action flicks of yore combined with a reasonably competent cast featuring the likes of rising star Channing Tatum, old head Dennis Quaid, Indie stalwarts Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Sienna Miller amongst others. Where Transformers 2 failed, G.I. Joe succeeded in making a perfect adaptation of a toy line, where it never drifted from the basic concept of what made it appealing in the first place, which is simply the good guys vs. the bad guys, while trying to save the world in the process. The plot is arguably one of the reasons I personally enjoyed it, because Sommers manages to keep everything simple, not because the target audience is most likely young boys with an obsession for high pace action sequences, huge explosions and women in tight spandex costumes beating the spit out of each other but because it never needed to be contrived or full of pointless plot devices that would have made it needlessly complicated in an infernal attempt to make it stand out, this is not Shakespeare, nor does it need to be. It is actually that simplistic notion that makes G.I. Joe the fun experience that it turned out to be. The characters themselves mostly came across rather well, with the highlights being Tatum's character Hawk and Miller's Baroness both whom were given a bit of depth and a back story (albeit a slightly confused one) as well as the two ninjas Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes, and to lighten the affair up, the on screen chemistry between Rachel Nichols (last seen green skinned and in bed with Captain Kirk in May's wonderful Star Trek reboot) and Marlon Wayans provided a point of comic relief throughout the movie, overall giving complete novices to the franchise a far better understanding and easier access to the array of characters before us, than a toy line that was essentially "All American" up until recently.

With rumours of studio execs firing Mr. Sommers and the movie receiving the lowest test ratings in film history proving to be some angry fan boy's way of stirring trouble, it was quite endearing to see that Sommers got so much right about this film, with the action sequences coming right after each other relentlessly, mixed with some light hearted moments to make me smile and lightly laugh, though never coming across as completely slapstick or borderline offensive, while making sure the film never drags or deviates from the story. Shocked?! Lets not jump the gun however and believe my taste for films has went totally to shit. I will be the first to say there were a tonne of flaws with this movie such as; the CGI was extremely poor in places, some of the dialogue was rather ham fisted and a couple of the costumes came across on the campy side, as well as Ecceleston's loud and obnoxious bad guy performance combined with Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje's god awful British accent. Unintentionally I am sure, in a strangely hilarious side note and comparison there was one action sequence in Paris that just conjured memories of Matt Stone and Trey Parker's pro American parody Team America. Thankfully though the film-makers manage to not make this a two hour salute to "AMERICA" (fu*k yeah!). With these obvious flaws how could one possibly like such a movie? Simple my friends, it was too much fun and not serious enough to ever actually get worked up about it.

Final Thoughts
Not a classic by any means and no one should pretend otherwise, however in a summer where big and dumb has came across as loud and painful, G.I. Joe made a potentially agonising two hour film an extremely enjoyable one. Combined with interesting characters and some awesome cameos, with enough clever and subtle nods to the original toy line to keep the die hard of fans smiling, with some back to basics direction from Sommers and his team, I for one have embraced this film with open arms in the same way I let myself with the first Transformers movie. For all its flaws the film done enough to keep me entertained and (he says with a surprised look on his face) actually looking forward to the potentially darker sequel hinted upon the film's closing moments. G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra will not be the best film I will see this year, nor will it even come close to making my top 10 list by year's end but I tell you this fan boys out there, I will be buying this on DVD before I even consider buying Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen...


See this if you liked...
Well made action movies featuring the likes of Stallone and Schwarzenegger in their glory days, as well as some of the more OTT James Bond films of years gone by.

G.I Joe: The Rise Of Cobra is in all cinemas from today.

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