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"G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra"

Directed by Stephen Sommers.
Written by Stuart Beattie, David Elliot and Paul Lovett.
Starring Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Marlon Wayans and Dennis Quaid.
Release Year:  2009
Review Date:  8/7/09


Much like "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" or even "Fast & Furious" earlier in the year, the new "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" isn't's just not very good.  Credit is due in certain areas, but what brings it all together--and, all together DOWN--is some of the worst written dialogue you will ever hear in a major motion picture.

This origins film sets up the "G.I. Joe" movie franchise (based on the Hasbro toy line from the 60s, then again in the 80s, then in the form of a TV cartoon) with all the familiar faces, especially to fans of the toys in the 80s--Joe, an international organization of best-of-the-best good guys, goes against COBRA, an international organization of best-of-the-best bad guys bent on world domination.  In this first film, the good guys are mainly represented by Duke (Channing Tatum), Ripcord (Marlon Wayans), Scarlett (Rachel Nichols) and Snake Eyes (Ray Park, aka Darth Maul, aka Toad from "X-Men").  The bad guys?  The Baroness (Sienna Miller), Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee), Zartan (Arnold Vosloo) and Destro (Christopher Eccleston).  This movie's plot covers Joe's attempts to take out nanotech-fueled warheads set to be launched on some of the world's major cities.

A few of us caught a midnight show last night; all of us agreed that the movie dialogue was fucking atrocious.  Sitting next to Dave Bell (still famous for his "sellout" rants during "Batman & Robin" many moons ago), both of us could hardly contain ourselves any time Dennis Quaid--playing Joe top-dog Hawk--opened his mouth.  "We've still got Joes in there!" will live on in infamy for the both of us, but between Scarlett's lament over losing her first fight ("My dad taught me to WIN!") and any time evil arms dealer Destro comes along with a thick Scottish accent--this is a factor late in the film--you'll have good opportunity to laugh at the terrible character interactions.

But, as bad as the movie's trailer was, and frankly, as bad as I really wanted this movie to be, "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" is not terrible.  Its action is fast-paced and they squeeze a ton of dead people into its two-hour running time.  As a fan of the toys, I was upset with how some issues--Sgt. Slaughter, COBRA's troops, silly mechanized suits, the inclusion of Heavy Duty instead of Roadblock--were handled, but it was still cool to see Snake Eyes doing stuff, or Scarlett with her crossbow, or Zartan go through the camouflage procedure that will be used in later films.  Also, like "Miami Vice", there was an opportunity to remind us of the old cool theme songs, but no one ponied up to include that in this "G.I. Joe" movie.

Like that last "Transformers" movie, you'll find yourself asking hundreds of logistical questions concerning the sheer ridiculosity of some of the story points; why are Duke and Ripcord used as front-line operatives when you have a base full of literally thousands of Joes with more experience?  Why does it seem like The Baroness is carrying the most powerful handgun of all time, but no one else is?  If COBRA is so well-funded, why does it seem like they only have about a hundred troops?  Why does the head of a 5,000-person military organization have no security and an office that sits close to your hidden base's interior perimeter?  With the ability to send in a strike force of hundreds, would you really send in just four to save the world?  If you had a supersonic jet with stealth capabilities, why wouldn't you use THAT to fire missiles at Beijing?

I shouldn't overthink this stuff.  This first film wasn't very good, but as Chuck said last coulda been a LOT worse.  Hopefully, someone other than Stephen Sommers (who gave us, ahem, both of the first two "Mummy" films AND "The Scorpion King") will get the chance to direct the inevitable sequel coming in a year or two.

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 08/07/09