G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra
There is a song that poses the question of what is war good for. For the most part the resounding ‘NO’ that is provided as the answer is true; war is destructive with no intrinsic redeeming quality yet numerous surgical and technological advances that are generally beneficial have risen from such conflicts. One industry that has traditionally done very well in war time has been the movies. Just about every armed conflict between nations has made it as a story for depiction on the silver screen. If the country happens to be actively at war movies are frequently used to bolster the spirits of the love ones left behind as well as the men and women serving. Films can foster a jingoistic feeling with the public with an impact unmatched by any other medium. At this moment America is engaged in two wars on the sandy soil of foreign countries as well as well as the more globally diffuse war against terrorism. It comes as no surprise that films that showcasing the fighting spirit of freedom loving soldiers combined with high tech gadgetry should find their way to the local Cineplex. Fans have always loved to watch the latest battle field technology from the safety of their theater seats; the very first Oscar for Best picture went to ‘Wings" in 1927 which amazed audiences with scenes of bi-planes engaging in aerial combat. Now over eighty years later the technology both in the combat zone and the movie studio has advanced to unbelievable levels. This allows for battles scenes unlike any that ere beyond imagining just a few years ago to become common place in today’s action flicks. One of the latest flicks in this vein is ‘G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra’. First off there is a need for a slight disclaimer at this point. It is not a great film, it barely holds a story together and the acting is only slighted better than the popular ‘G.I. Joe cartoon. What has to be remembered about the purpose of this movie, aside from the obvious box office take, is a diversion from the drastic events in the news.
The expectations are different for a film based on a cartoon that in turn was based on a toy, let’s face it, this is not translating a literary master piece to film; it was intended as a Saturday afternoon popcorn flick which is the only realistic way to watch it. It sat down one afternoon with my best friend while his wife was at work with the 7.1 audio cranked way up surrounded by snacks. Bottom line is we both had a good time although the genre admittedly has seen better representation. The minimalistic story came from a pair of authors with experience in this sort of a movie; David Elliot and Stuart Beattie. Elliot has written and directed as couple of crime thrillers while Beattie has made quite a career with big budget action movies including ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’ and ‘30 Days of Night’. The story is simplistic serving only to provide a bit of rationale for the break neck paced action sequences. Some may hold the lack of story against the flick but this is not the kind of movie that lends itself to in dept analysis after viewing. It provides what the male dominated target demographic demands; high testosterone driven fights; impossibly futuristic high tech gadgets and weapons and beautiful women in skin tight outfits that exaggerates every curve while highlighting non military regulation cleavage. If these weapons and women were part of the armed services guys would be clamoring to enlist.
Charged with the directorial duties was Stephen Sommers, who previously helmed some of the most popular and successful fantasy action flicks including Brendan Fraser’s Mummy flicks including the Scorpion prequel. It takes a certain special degree of talent to bring in a movie of this sort and Sommers certainly is one of the best currently in the field. The pacing is incredibly fast; it starts off at full blast and never really gives the audience an opportunity to catch their breath. This is where an actually plot may just get in the way although on the downside all the explosions (reportedly over 250 of them) do seem to meld into one another rather quickly. Basically there is one standard issue megalomaniac, James McCullen (Christopher Eccleston) owns the world’s leading developer of weapons adding to their coffers but also sell defenses against them. He comes from a long line of Scottish arms dealers and his ancestor had a red hot metal mask forced on his face when it was discovered he was playing both sides against the middle. Now James is trying the same thing by having NATO foot the billion dollar research and development cost only to try to steal the prototypes back as soon as they were ready. The shapely but deadly villainess is the Baroness de Cobray (Sienna Miller). She has the habit of jumping from planes and beating up anyone in sight in a skin tight leather outfit with ultra high stilettos. Her sidekick is the white clad ninja, Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee). There are the main adversaries for the Good Guys the Joes. There everyone has a macho nickname like Heavy Duty (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) or Duke (Channing Tatum). On this side the buxom battle babe; Scarlett O’Hara (Rachel Nichols) with the ninja in black the always silent, masked Snake Eyes (Ray Parks). The have to keep the bad guys from dissolving cities with a new nanobot war head which takes them all over the world in the process. Just in case there is a bad guy made with another batch of nanites to look exactly like the President of the United States.
Watching on Blu-ray with full DTS-HD audio was an experience similar to a really good roller coaster. The action and special effects are completely un-believable but still a whole lot of fun to experience. This is a film that can help you forget to world for a couple of hours and revert back to being ten years old.