Saturday, August 8, 2009

Dart Adams presents The Dartflix Film Review: G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra

The thing about this movie are all the red flags around it. The trailer looks like it's just another soulless moneygrab adorned with CGI, special FX, little as far as dialogue & plot are concerned and the characters will all be one sided caricatures. Considering how deep the back story of the G.I. Joe & Cobra teams is it would only make sense to start at the beginning. That would mean to start with the initial first couple of generations of the G.I. Joe/Cobra toy run, Marvel comic book storyline or the cartoon's first season. Nah, fuck all that! Let's just make something up that'll completely piss off the only people that even cared to see it at first. The fans of the original source material *Rolls eyes*

Isn't this the exact same thing that happened with "Transformers"? I believe so. I guess that means we're due for a gang of explosions, wooden acting, horrible dialogue, worse fake accents (cuz it's a international film) and lame attempts at humor and/or comic relief (Marlon Wayans, I'm looking at you!). I already know that Paramount didn't screen the film for critics (red flag #2) and the spin doctors at the studio use the bullshit excuses "It's a movie based on a toy" or "What did you expect, The Deer Hunter?" in order to rationalize producing a half assed product. They also hide behind the term "popcorn movie"'s all the same to me, corporate co-signing of mediocrity.

At the begonning of the film...before the official title sequence even began and you saw the name of the studios and production companies that brought the film to theaters this flashed on the screen. "Hasbro", the name of the company that made the toys for G.I. Joe and Transformers (red flag #3). I already knew to look for a few scattered easter eggs, blatant product placement, a few choice phrases that referenced the original source material the creative team completely ignored and random things that would only be in the film as Comic Con trailer fodder to appease fanboys & fangirls that wouldn't be utilized cleverly (we call this phenomenon the Jamie Madrox Syndrome thanks to X3)

The story starts out with a ridiculous sequence involving the ancient Destro in France, in arms dealer named McCullen that was caught dealing arms to both sides in a battle. He was punished by having a scalding hot iron mask affixed to his face. The scene was so horribly acted and the accents were so fuckin' terrible that I knew I was in for it already (red flag #4). We haven't even gotten to the title sequence yet! Next, we see the modern day McCullen, his accent is fuckin' awful and he's selling a warhead armed with nanotechnology, specifically metal eating nanomites that devour everything until a kill switch is hit that neutralizes them *rolls eyes*.

Nanotechnology has become a go to device for writers when they make films like this. In "Transformers", the Decepticons employ nanobots (the Autobots don't) and it seems they just provide a writing shorcut so the special effects team can wow and mystify the viewers. Count how long you usually go without meaningful dialogue as loud noises and explosions accompanied by pounding music happens in films like this (red flag #5). Let's meet Duke & Ripcord, shall we? They're hired to escort the nanomite warheads when all of a sudden they get ambushed by Cobra. They get their asses kicked until G.I. Joe shows up wreckin' shit. Duke also recognized his leather clad female attacker as "Ana" (red flag #6). What is this "High School Musical" bullshit? Duke doesn't know Baroness! His chick is Scarlet...What's going on here?

Baroness is supposed to be Destro's chick. She isn't. Destro doesn't rock a mask. There is no Cobra Commander. Wait, this is supposed to be the ORIGIN of Cobra and G.I. Joe as we know it now? Oh boy! McCullen is playing both sides against each other (Duh!) as the warheads are now in the possession of G.I. Joe, a super secret covert Black Ops unit that contains the best of the best. Duke and Ripcord wanna be down but General Hawk (a performance faxed in brilliantly by Randy Quaid) is like "Maybe". Duke is the straight man, an all American hero type. Ripcord is the wise crackin', cocky Black guy that's his best friend who provides the comic relief. Dean Martin sings, Jerry Lewis tells the jokes, Sammy Davis Jr. dances and sings but Dean always gets the girl...that dynamic changes with Obama in office, though.

Destro is aided by a mad scientist who creates altered humans that he entrances and puts in armored suits called Neo Vipers. They have no morals or conscience and they fell no pain or fear. This is where writers often fuck up, now that you've had a character utter that, the Neo Vipers cannot in any way show that they acknowledge fear or feel pain. If they do then you've broken a cardinal rule in screenwriting. In order for the audience to suspend belief you have to stay consistent...they didn't. What can you expect from a film with three different writers anyways *Rolls eyes*. McCullen gets the location of the Joe's secret base "The Pit" by tracking the warheads and sends Cobra to take them back. We get to see a cameo from Cover Girl and Brendan Fraser gets about two minutes of screen time as Gung Ho (Boo!)

Duke & Ripcord are accepted to the G.I. Joe team on a trial/trainee basis. There are some entertaining montages in which Ray Park in his guise as Snake Eyes shows off how fuckin' super cool and awesome he is. It's essentially a showcase so all the little kids in the audience make a point to recognize that this is the guy whose toy you wanna buy. Duke & Ripcord work under the watchful eyes of team leader Heavy Duty (why couldn't he have been Roadblock?) and General Hawk. No surprise that Duke & Ripcord use their relationship to Baroness to secure a place with the team or that Ripcord decides to holler at Scarlet. If you were Stalker instead of Ripcord you could've closed the deal with way less effort...Oh yeah, the Duke/Baroness flashback earns red flags #'s 7 & 8 because you already know what's gonna happen later on if you're somewhat smart.

About 28 minutes into the film we first see the accelerator suits, the dreaded suits generated groans from fanboys & fangirls alike but cheers from casual movie fans that don't give a fuck either way. After the first round of training is over, Cobra makes a surprise attack on the super secret G.I. Joe base. Stormshadow has spent the overwhelming majority of his screen time looking like a Asian pop star. I half expect him to sit at a piano and belt out a ballad to some girl in a long flowing dress in either Korean or Japanese (red flag #9) at any moment. Nope, he instead hangs around with Baroness acting jealous. Doesn't Cobra have any other girls around? This evil organization is a real sausage party, isn't it? Before I forget, Zartan get red flag #10 for overall suckage.

During the Cobra attack on the base where they body a bunch of people (yay!) and reacquire the case with the warheads (conflict!) a sequence happens that kills everything for me. During the assault, one of the Neo Vipers walks out through fire towards Heavy Duty who sticks a grenade under the Neo Vipers neck...the Neo Viper then panicked and made noises BEFORE he blew up. Now if Neo Vipers don't feel pain or fear (as evidenced by him walking through fire) then why did one just exhibit fear of impending death? Less than 40 minutes into this film it's already earned it's 11th red flag (and I'm being generous otherwise I'd be at 20 by now). Stormshadow clashes with Snake Eyes and Baroness fights Scarlett. Cobra escapes with the warheads and General Hawk lands in the infirmary (best acting by Quaid..cuz his eyes are closed).

G.I. Joe is licking their wounds while trying to figure out what the hell McCullen & Cobra are up to. Then we get a flashback expalining exactly what happened that could have lead Ana (Baroness) to work with Cobra. After this flashback there's a chance that 20 minutes later you can predict how the movie might end kinda like we used to 15 minutes in to episodes of "New York Undercover". They soon discover that the target is in France so they deploy the brand new Accelerator Suits and give them to the trainees Duke & Ripcord totake point in the mission. Snake Eyes & Scarlett are back up. Here's my issue. It's a super secret Black Ops covert action team doing a "secret mission" in public during daylight hours (?). That's sorta like a ninja rocking an Ed Hardy outfit while trying to be stealthy.

Why would you send the two guys the person you're trying to stop already knows? Why is the team leader in a fuckin' van instead of...I dunno leading the mission? If Cobra is trying to go undetected and do their mission the stealthy way then why is G.I. Joe (the secret team that no one even knows exists) out in the open running through traffic in Accelerator Suits, causing accidents racking up a gang of collateral damage? Why not track Cobra then stop them when they figure out what the target is? Because there would be no explosions and no way to exhibit the cool ass CGI and special FX, that's why! Common sense be damned! At the end of this head stratching explosion and casualty filled 13 minute sequence, Paris is kinda saved, Duke gets kidnapped and G.I. Joe is directly responsible for injuring thousands and THEY get arrested. Snake Eyes didn't need an Accelerator Suit to do the improbable, he also managed to avoid arrest and slipped away as his peeps got tossed in the bing. Red flags #12-#17 are issued in the aftermath.

If you can watch a movie where a secret professional covert ops team that's reputed to contain the best of the best soldiers in their respective fields that gets arrested by the local authorities in broad daylight for causing a gang of unnecessary carnage and you don't have a problem with it then God bless you. Either way, Hawk springs the Joes and tells them that they have to be disbanded. Then he tells them that they can pull off one last mission and try to get Duke back and disarm the nanomite warheads before Cobra denonates them. Breaker discovers that the secret Cobra base is located under the polar ice caps *rolls eyes* after Duke sets off the homing beacon so they can find him. The Joes get their collective shit together to end this film with a bang.

What comes next are a couple of reveals that won't shock you if your IQ is 100 or over and if you're any good at drawing conclusions through context clues or previous foreshadows. It's almost like this film was culled together from storylines concocted in a 8th or 9th grade creative writing class. The attack on Cobra's cold weather base was a great way to possibly add quick cameos by Snow Job, Iceberg or even Alpine. No dice. This film could've really used Tomax & Xamot, The Dreadnoks, Firefly & Scrap Iron, Major Bludd or a host of other characters. Since they completely under utilized the roles they already cast it's neither here nor there. The daring rescue jumps off in grand fashion.

Snake Eyes and Stormshadow have their epic clash so the fans can "Ooh" and "Aah". I watch martial arts & action films from Asia regularly so I'm like "Whatever". Another thing happens in regards to Duke and Baroness that you can coming from a mile away so you're either like "This is getting interesting" or "This is getting dumber/more ridiculous by the minute". Guess which side I'm on? The last 30 minutes of this movie are filled with action, special effects, explosions, and utter stupidity. Let's recap, shall we? The raid on the Cobra base reveals a Night Raven within the first 30 seconds...gee, I wonder who'll fly it? Maybe Ripcord? *rolls eyes*

The G.I. Joe's end up with Baroness fighting alongside them (didn't see that one coming *sarcasm*) and the mad scientist that works with McCullen and his company (M.A.R.S) who created the Neo Vipers in addition to the nanomite warheads both escape and are pursued by Duke & The Baroness. The G.I. Joe team then has to escape the Cobra base before it self destructs (doesn't the enemy base always self destruct?). When everyone gets clear Heavy Duty screams the lone "Yo Joe!" of the film. Fuck off, Adibisi! Cobra also fires off the warheads and it's up to Ripcord to shoot 'em down in the Night Raven *Yawn!*.

Two more ridiculous reveals/origin moments happen in the final 10-15 minutes of this film. One is stolen directly from the "Fantastic Four" film franchise. They didn't want to give Dr. Doom a goddamn metal mask like he's supposed to have so the writers decided to go all "Ultimate" on us and make him metal. The mad scientist (whom we figured out exactly who he was about an hour ago) inject healing nanobots into McCullen that turn his face metallic. The mad scientist informs him that he is now under his control and will be called Destro from now on. Boo! I think you know what happened next...

The mad scientist informed Destro that he would now be referred to as Cobra Commander. This guy is no sniveling coward. The original Cobra Commander was a scientist who undermined his own successes and micromanaged Cobra until they lost even while they had better weapons, better resources, better technologies and a head start of years of world conquest (if none of you have ever taken a History class about World War 2 or specifically Germany under Hitler then you'd never piece all that together...even when Cobra Commander used to quote Stalin & Lenin in the cartoon). Cobra also lost because there was always a power grab in effect from all of the mercenaries they employed (Crimson Guard/Dreadnoks/Destro). Without that angle/fact to exploit...G.I. Joe would've been completely screwed.

This shitstorm of a movie ended with Cobra Commander and Destro imprisoned, Baroness in the bing and the G.I. Joe team sitting around waiting for that magic number that the studios need to see to ensure they go ahead with the sequel ($35 million dollar weekend). It'll hit that number easily if you ask me. The worse the movie, the better it does at the box office this Summer, I guess. This wasn't quite the epic fail that "Transformers 2: Revenge Of The Fallen" was but it did still suck giraffe balls dipped in maple syrup. After the 20th red flag with close to 30 minutes left to go in this film I just gave up and started laughing Joker style after every bad line or inane action.

In conclusion, Hollywood and the film veiwing public have proven time and again that they'll accept medocrity over quality. Special FX, CGI, stunt casting and costuming over content. Flash over substance. Shortcuts over competent or consistent writing. Abandon any further hope of a good adaptation being done of any of these properties in the future because it's all about the money. I hope that "District 9" blows this bullshit flick out of the water next week and that it doesn't set any records. It's bad enough a sequel is almost guaranteed in 2011. I would write about all the ways it could've been salvaged but that's another post for another day.



Travis said...

hmmm, I'm taking it that you didn't like it....hahaha

I saw it last night although I was never planning on seeing it. I was never into the comic book, and although I did watch the cartoon as a good, I never got really wrapped up into it. Maybe that's why I didn't mind the movie all that much. Yes, it was rather lame on the plot line, and yes the acting was atrocious in places. But in the end, it was just a fun watch for me. Lots of fluff, but it wasted two hours and I walked out feeling like I had been entertained.

TACH said...

The movie was an absolute train wreck from the jump! Just Gawd Awful to point where I just start laughing... like the first appearance of The Baroness. It looked like a Go Daddy Commercial the way she exited the plane and walked down the steps, for a brief second I thought IT was the Danica Patrick Go Daddy Commercial! LOL! Just awful!

Saw this post on another website; Roger Ebert had an interesting, very point take about the success of these types of files...

gsure001 said...

dart have you checked out ellis' gi joe resolute? much much better film

John Wilson said...

like how you slipped in that new york undercover dig. so true.

i also hope district 9 does well, but since it isn't major, and there's no product placement, might be an indie classic of sorts

Hannibal Tabu, The Operative said...

As noted on Twitter, I'll have more responses to your responses here later on, if you don't mind me capturing our Twitter back-and-forth.

Dart Adams said...


Whatever. The flick sucked. Next week hopefully people will get to see how films should be when "District 9" drops.


Mighty Mightor said...

Dart- You are right as usual. I'd give it a D+ cause it did have a few cool ideas in there but overall it sucked. It amazes me that every time a current big-name director tries to adapt something it usually ends up being a big loaf (see: Singer with Superman Returns or Ratner on anything). If they tabbed Buzz Dixon or Larry Hama to helm Joe it could've been decent. Hell, if they got Dini or Timm to do the next Superman movie...oh wait, that would make too much sense. WB doesn't want good movies...just moneymakers.

m said...

District 9 many great messages that will go over peoples heads.......

also see that I've been filtered out on your twitter page's formely @marcusrespekt.....reborn now as @whutdabloodclot

I know, I know..........had to go back underground...twitter jail aint fun and I'm missing the info