G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Midnight movies aren’t usually my thing. I made an exception this time because I knew G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was going to be a visually stunning, action-packed movie. The one thing to keep in mind when seeing this is that it is not art, it is purely entertainment. In other words don’t expect it to earn a Best Picture nomination. The movie doesn’t bring anything new to the table as far as original ideas are concerned either, but it sure looks pretty flaunting what it does have.

Twenty minutes into the movie is all it takes to get a good idea about what the rest of the movie is like. Everything revolves around four nanotechnology based warheads developed by international arms maker MARS which is run by Destro. The Joes want the city-destroying nanobombs in their hands while Cobra aims to terrorize the world with them. The rest of the movie is essentially a big game of tug-of-war with the warheads in the middle.

The plot is formulaic and uninspired but the execution of its parts is both explosive and exciting. The high point of this explosive action is a chase scene in downtown Paris involving a tanked up Hummer, Duke and Ripcord in powered armor suits, and Scarlett on a motorcycle. The damage done to the City of Lights in this scene is massive and irreparable and highlights a conspicuous absence of consequences in the movie. So many people are killed, both combatants and civilians, that I’m surprised the movie managed a PG-13 rating.

One of the most impressive things about this film are the scenes with CGI. Stephen Sommers – who directed Van Helsing and The Mummy – is clearly a director with some experience working with CGI and that experience shines through in this movie. There are lots of aircraft and insane special effects throughout the movie and they all blend so seamlessly together it’s hard to tell what is stunt and what is CGI.

I also liked how the movie incorporated a back story for some of their main characters. The flashbacks to the early years of Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow were the ones I was anticipating the most and they were done well and only slightly mishandled. The back story between Duke and Baroness is central to the plot and will almost certainly be revisited in any other G.I. Joe movies to come.

My biggest gripes about the movie are petty but I need to vent them anyway. To start, I thought painting the bottom half of Snake Eye’s face black and leaving it uncovered was a bad costume decision. Someone should have said, “Hey, that looks stupid.” I was also upset with the idea of having ice fall down through the water to wreak havoc on those below. As a guy who likes cold drinks I can assure you that ice never sinks to the bottom of a glass of water or any body of water for that matter. Breaking the laws of physics for a cheap thrill is never a good idea.

Having gotten those quibbles off of my chest I still approve of this movie. Ultimately it’s a better vehicle for selling action figures than it is for boosting anyone’s acting career but I didn’t watch it for the acting. And compared to other movies inspired by TV shows/comic books/action figures like He-Man and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra more than holds its own. Expect a sequel sometime in the not too distant future with more of the same sword fights, shoot outs and explosions.