G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
What It Is
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is a late-summer thrill ride that brings one of the quintessential American toy lines to vibrant life. The story, which is more based on the Joe from the 1982 “Real American History” era than any other era in the Joe legends, tells the story of a top secret, elite fighting force whose existence is only acknowledged at the highest levels of government—The Joes—with one simple task: save the world from the uber-evil Cobras.
It seems that weapons expert James McMullen (Christopher Eccleston) has sold warheads to NATO that contain a highly potent nano-technology capable of destroying any matter it contacts. (We see it has a particular appetite for fighter bombers and a certain metallic Parisian landmark.)
The Army goes to pick up the ordinance, with Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayons) on board. Ambushed by The Baroness (Sienna Miller) who is working for McMullen, they are saved by Scarlett (Rachel Nichols) and Snake Eyes (Ray Park). They are taken back to The Pit where they meet General Hawk (Dennis Quaid) and are introduced to the world of The Joes. Naturally, Duke and Ripcord, the only survivors of the ambush, want in.
Their training is cut short as McMullen tries once again to steal the warheads, and plenty of action ensues. Oh, and in his spare time, McMullen has used his nano technology to build an army of soldiers who, thanks to the technology, are virtually indestructible. Makes them a bit hard to fight.
The Joes travel around the globe on their quest to stop the increasingly mad McMullen. Up against the nano-men, Duke and Ripcord don Accelerator Suits for a spectacular chase through Paris. They dash to Egypt and then to an ultimate confrontation in a submerged fortress in the arctic where hidden identities are revealed, old flames are put to rest and torments from the past are healed. The Joes, triumphant, have beaten off a deadly foe. Or have they? At the end, the sequel door is somewhat more than ajar.
Why It’s Fun
This is a rollicking flick that’s packed with action, explosions, humor (especially Wayons who is terrific), thwarted romance, mystery and really, really cool technical stuff. (Director Stephen Sommers has said that most of the tech he’s imagined for the film would be reality in as little as 20 years.)
Of course, it’s over the top, but the action sequences are balanced by scenes that reveal the characters’ back-stories. The film makes few intellectual demands of the audience, but the imagination and Sommer’s gives it an amazing visual power that lets you feel that the coolest comic book ever has burst into life in front of you.
The acting is spot on for this kind of movie, and it’s very cool that even the most outrageous scenes are played without irony. That lets kids really dive into the story and go along for the ride.
Who’s Going To Love It
Anyone looking for a big, loud, fast-paced action film is going to really enjoy this. In fact, it’s pretty daring for Paramount to open a blockbuster this late in the summer, but it may set a new precedent.
Predictably, boys are going to like it best, but there’s enough girl power between Scarlett (good) and The Baroness (bad) and intrigue to make it entertaining and accessible to girls as well.
In fact, without seeming heavy handed or pandering, there really is a lot for everyone in the family to enjoy, though moms who don’t care for action/adventure flicks may want to let the kids and dad have the fun, while they, for instance, take in Julie & Julia.
What To Be Aware Of
The violence is largely of a cartoony nature, so it’s not likely to cause any bad dreams. Any child above 8 will surely understand its abstract nature. (The movie is rated PG-13.) There are some love scenes, but they mostly have to do with Duke mourning the fact that his past relationship with The Baroness failed, and his growing attraction to Scarlett. It’s all very chaste in the best action hero mode. Boys will never have anything to make them say “Oooh, gross!”
The comedy is definitely boy-centric with lots of jokes from Wayons and the guys getting the stuffing knocked out of them by Scarlett as they train to be Joes.
The music, by Alan Silvestri, is surprisingly good for this type of movie.
6 out of 10
Film: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Director: Stephen Sommers
Cast: Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayons, Rachel Nichols, Christopher Eccleston, Sienna Miller, Dennis Quaid
US Premiere: August 7, 2009
UK Premiere: July 27, 2009