My rating of GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra: B- (Fair)
Cast: Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Dennis Quaid, Christopher Eccleston, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rachel Nichols, Jonathan Pryce, Arnold Vosloo
Directed by: Stephen Sommers
Studio: Paramount Pictures
GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra belongs the same category of movies as Transformers – ‘lovingly’ referred to as ‘war porn’ by critics. An assorted collection of slow-mo shots of military equipment and special-op military forces. Heck, even GI Joe is a Hasbro toy-line – so that was something expected. And with Stephen Sommers – the Mummy guy – at helm, you can’t expect anything other than a popcorn action flick. My interested in this movie was piqued when I watched its trailer. The Eiffel Tower crumbling to bits? If this didn’t beat Transformers in sheer entertainment value, I don’t know what would.
Before I begin the review here’s a bit of trivia, since it has been pointed out to me that I’m the most likely person to know random facts. Random Fact Of The Day is that Sienna Miller’s boobs caught fire while the movie was being shot. Details are sketchy as to whether an explosion was involved or they spontaneously self-combusted due to their hotness. Thankfully, as it transpired, no valuable assets were lost.
I admit that I’m not familiar with GI Joe lore. I played with GI Joe toys when I was a kid but didn’t really gave a damn about who belonged to which organization. Just let them loose (in your imagination of course) to bash each other up. I’m pretty sure our Indian shores haven’t had the (mis)fortune of being bombarded with Joe merchandising such as comics either. So my experience in watching the movie is that of a n00b to Joe-lore.
The entire story of the movie can be summed up thusly: GI Joe is a special unit comprising of military personnel from across the world who ‘try to beat up bad guys’. The bad guys are M.A.R.S. Industries, who are contracted by NATO to develop nanobots that can eat through metal. They develop the weapon, and then for some convoluted reason the head of that company plans to steal it from himself while it is enroute to be delivered to NATO from his factory. Why not just make some for himself? Because then you wouldn’t have a big budget movie, dummy. Anyway, he succeeds in stealing the nanobot-equipped warheads from himself, decides to launch them from a secret aquatic base under the North Pole – and it’s up to our ‘average Joes’ to save the world.
The movie is almost completely CGI. Everything except for the actors is shot on a green/blue backdrop. While the quality of CGI is good, it is quite obvious whenever you look at a scene that it is fake. (Note – not referring to you-know-what in the picture above.) Without the stylistic over-the-top-ness used in the likes of Sin City, GI Joe feels as if you are watching someone else play a video game. Stephen Sommers peppers the movie with bullet-time shots a la ‘300’…except he does it on a ‘grander’ scale using attack helicopters and whatnot.
Acting is average at best. Honestly, the batshit insane story does not give anyone room to play around and even think about delivering a serious performance. Nobody seems to have informed this fact to Dennis Quaid though, who miserably drags through every scene as if he’s starring in some poignant war-drama. Many flashbacks in the movie; most of them done in the most juvenile and cheesy manner possible. Rest of the cast is completely in-flow and enjoying working on the movie. Most actors will come out with their reputation pretty unscathed.
Sommers seems to have found a new muse in Sienna Miller. He rivals Michael Bay (and Bay’s fascination with Megan Fox) by ensuring that Sienna Miller is shown in every second frame. Just like Michael Bay, he devotes a lot of time to, erm, ‘close-up shots’. Nobody in the movie theatre complained though. ;) (Which reminds me , if you want to watch a movie in Delhi, watch it at DT Cinemas if possible. Plush seats, and the whole theatre is practically empty all the time. It’s like watching a movie in your own personal theatre. Food is crap though, and overpriced at that.)
The story, as I said, batshit insane. In a flashback, a soldier is sent into a terrorist bunker to ‘shoot down those bastards’…when an airstrike has already been ordered on the building. Why do you need to shoot someone and then drop bombs on them. Probably just to say you can. So this soldier goes in, sees some weapons experiment being shown on a computer and decides to transfer a webcast on to his pen drive. GI Joe has opened my eyes. I never knew US soldiers carried Kingston pen drives while in the middle of a battlefield in Somalia. When he plugs in the pen drive, he first scans it with Norton AntiVirus. Such dedication is truly commendable. Putting his life in the line of fire, to ensure that his pen drive is virus-free, so that when he gets back to the US of A Pentagon computers don’t get infected.
Or take the scene at the Arctic Circle. So they have a huge fucking military base the bottom of the ocean, with huge towers and shit which nobody seems to have noticed…despite the fact that nuclear submarines regularly patrol the area. No possible explanation is forthcoming, except maybe M.A.R.S. Industries borrowed Harry Potter’s Invisibility Cloak for a while. An epic battle happens between the Joes and the bad guys. Many underwater torpedoes later, the Joes decide to blast the ice directly above the Bad Guy Base. Soon, massive blocks of ice fall to the ocean bottom, crushing the Bad Guy Base. Erm, so why exactly again did the ice fall down like blocks of stone? Isn’t the fact that ice floats on water the whole fucking principle behind icebergs, which was then turned into a multimillion money mint movie called The Titanic?
In one scene, Bad Guys Inc are driving towards Eiffel Tower in a vehicle and plan to fire a nanobot-equipped warhead at it to reduce the monument to dust. The Joes chase the Bad Vehicle, and the amount of destruction they cause simply in pursuit of the vehicle is probably greater than what the Bad Guys put together could ever achieve. Such dedication, you see, to stop the Bad Guys that they readily kill / maim innocent civilians and wreck property in the process.
Many parts of the story are inspired by Star Wars. A clone army similar to the initial batch of Imperial Stormtroopers is created and they are ‘made fearless’ by injecting them with nanobots. (Don’t ask, don’t ask…) The icing on the cake is a Darth Vader lookalike who eventually becomes Cobra Commander, complete with a face mask and rasping voice.
If you watch this movie with a few friends, this unmitigated disaster can be turned into a laugh riot for the sheer cheesiness and stupidity of the whole enterprise. In that sense, it isn’t a lot unlike Snakes On A Plane. So bad, that it’s good.