Looking back at GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Basically, for you over 30 types, this is a Saturday morning cartoon come to life. Which means, check your brain at the door.

Yeah, I understand that some of you will interpret this as shorthand for “so what if I want to feel stupid, I hate to be challenged, and I am inexplicably attracted to shiny objects.” But hear me out. From Transformers to Batman to Bond, the latest Hollywood trend has been to turn formerly campy properties into joyless angst-fests. The trend has only been recently reversed with the success of Iron Man and Star Trek.

“GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra” actually goes beyond that and elevates the stupid cartoon plots to motion picture status. All weekend, I’ve been posting, on my Twitter, some of the goofiest moments in GI Joe. Flint, Lady Jaye, Baroness, and Cobra Commander are stuck on a desert island that has a giant lawnmower. The Joes are turned into kids. Zartan gets to play heavy metal. Dr. Mindbender walks around without a shirt and sports a monocle.

Holy crap, but was Joe ridiculous. I remember reading a review about the GI Joe comic book, which turned Cobra into an actual ruthless terrorist organization, mass murderers and all. The reviewer mentioned that by making Cobra competent, it actually took away some of the original charm. And I agree. My greatest fear was that the movie would take the joy out of GI Joe, but Sommers took a really hare-brained plot and ran with it.

Plus, the Joe standard of really dumb military inventions gets replicated here. Is there a chair with wings that obviously just a life-sized version of a toy they packaged with an action figure? Yup. And the movie delivered on the one scene guaranteed to make every old school GI Joe fan happy, no matter what: the ninja battle between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow.

Other things I liked: I loved Arnold Vosloo as Zartan. The guy’s supposed to give the rest of the Cobras the creeps, and he pulled it off just fine. Sienna Miller filled out Baroness’ uniform nicely (though I wish she’d kept the accent). And Marlon Wayans proved, once again, that when he’s not doing full comedy, he’s a decent actor (e.g. “Requiem of a Dream”).

Unfortunately, the action does get confusing at the end. Sommers mentioned that the ending was a tribute to “Thunderball.” True: in the sense that you couldn’t make out what was happening at the end of that movie, either. And everyone ends up being related to everyone else, which — and light spoilers here — makes you wonder why Cobra Commander was OK with sending the Baroness to be with every guy in the globe, if you know what I mean.

Next Joe movie suggestions: take the focus off Channing Tatum, as he has no charisma whatsoever. Put the focus on, say, a new Joe like Shipwreck, or Alpine, or Roadblock, or even Flint (and yes I’m talking about Brendan Fraser here).

And how about getting Josh Holloway for the role of Shipwreck? Just because the Joes seem to be partially made of “Lost” actors.

And now that Fraser is Flint, how about Rachel Weisz as Lady Jaye? “Mummy” cast domination!


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