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GI Joe the Rise of Cobra Spoiler Filled Review

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posted by alias Decepticreep on Monday 10th of August 2009 02:31:35 AM

I finally saw the new GI Joe Movie today and much to my surprise I enjoyed it far more than I expected to. Definitely NOT Oscar material and definitely NOT the Joe movie I would've made, but as far as "updated" versions of established franchises go, it was surprisingly good. I enjoyed it far more than other recent attempts to update GI Joe, such as Sigma Six and GI Joe Reloaded - although it still can't touch GI Joe Resolute which was DA BOMB. The Good: 1) For me at least, it did FEEL like GIJoe, which was the thing I was the most worried about. In fact , despite all the changes to the characters and their backgrounds, I feel like it is a more satisfying screen adaptation of the toy brand than the Transformers movies. Maybe because Michael Bay wasn't involved? Maybe because unlike the Transformers movies, where we have to sit through tons of scenes with humans to get to see a few of the Transformers on screen for only a few minutes at a time, we get to see Joes and Cobras throughout the entire movie? In fact there is a refreshing lack of characters who are NOT Joes or Cobras. Way to go! 2) I like the idea of it being an international team (despite the fact that the name "GIJoe" is pretty meaningless outside of America). The fact that isn't an exclusively American team should only annoy the most nationalistic of fans. Everywhere else in the world where the toys were sold the Joes were portrayed as being either a team made of many nationalities ( Hello, Action Force!), or one that at the very least operated on an international scale, which only makes sense considering that Cobra is trying to take over the entire world and not just one country. Heavy Duty having a British accent and a Morrocan Breaker was cool to me. In fact I really liked this version of Breaker, and the fact that he still chews gum habitually - nice touch! 3) The opening scene with Destro's ancestor was great. I love the fact that they not only went into Destro's background far more than is typical, but remained very true to the spirit of the character throughout. I liked how they explained his chrome -plated look at the end of the movie too (although I was disappointed that we never got to see him sporting the uniform his movie action figure wears), it explains things I've always wondered about, such as why he practically never takes off the mask and how his mask is capable of showing facial expressions. 4) Good action sequences, the action was easier to follow and not as choppy as in a lot of modern action films. 5) I was happy with how many of the characters were portrayed Snake Eyes, Scarlett, Zartan, Storm Shadow etc. Even Cobra Commander! His mask, which has been the source of much complaining, including from yours truly, looks decent in the movie and has a nice silver sheen to it that recalls his tradional look in a way. 6)The plot was actually better than I expected and had a few nice unexpected twists to it - especially the ending. I was expecting a totally plotless film, but the story had a bit more meat on its bones than I had dared hope for, although I feel like they try to cram far too much of it together near the end. 7) Cobra is a formidable threat and not the joke they were in the cartoon. 8) The characters aren't shouting "YO JOE!!" or "COBRAAAAAA!!" every 2 minutes like they did in the cartoons, which has always annoyed me to no end, even as a child. 9) Both the Joes and Cobras look pretty cool in the movie, after seeing still photos of the "movie look" this was big concern for me. The movie Vipers are the new Storm/Clone Troopers in terms of coolness! 10) Accelerator suits are only in one scene and aren't that bad in the actual context of the story. For some reason , the trailers have focused FAR TOO MUCH on this one tiny aspect of the movie, which was really turning me off to the whole thing. Yes that is a great action sequence, but not necessarily because of the accelerator suits per se. 11) Lots of great homages sprinkled throught the story - from references to "lifelike hair" and Kung Fu Grip, to the U.S.S. Flagg and S.H.A.R.C.s , L.A.W., the "knowing is half the battle" line etc. Even the Idea of Cobra messing with the Eiffel tower is a homage to the cartoon (where the MASS Device teleports it far away) and the mole miner drills are similar to a vehicle from an episode of the cartoon. Hawk being in wheelchair in one scene is reminicent of his fate in the Sigma 6 cartoon and the later Devil's Due comics. Cobra's undersea base is simliar to one destroyed by the Joes in an early issue of the Marvel comic series, etc. 12) Although the movie is often a bit corny and cheesy, at least it's not preachy and jingoistic - which was a concern for me going into it. 13) Marlon Wayans was good! His character wasn't a total joke as I was afraid he might have been and he comes off as being very likeable and authentic. Yes I wish they had just made him a different Joe aside from Ripcord, but I'm over it. However I question how much his character really cares for Scareltt aside from the fact that she's a nice piece of ass he'd like to get his hands on. The bad: 1) The CGI in this movie looks too obviously fake in many scenes, a problem which seems to dog Stephen Sommers films in general for some reason. There is also far too much of it. 2) I don't like the whole idea of the Baroness being mind controlled, and therefore not really in love with Destro. Or the fact that she's an American for that matter. It does work pretty well in the context of this film, but if we get the sequel that this movie sets up so well, I hope she will return to being evil, which she did so well throughout most of the movie. Call me an old romantic, but one fo the things I've always loved about GIJoe is the devotion that exists between the Baroness and Destro in virtually every incarnation of the franchise but this one, to violate that strikes me as fundamentally wrong and to make Duke Destro's romantic rival just adds insult to injury! Making her Cobra Commander's brother doesn't actually bother me very much. Fans should recall that in the comics, the Baroness's motivation for becoming evil was the loss of her beloved brother, which in the comics was blamed on Snake Eyes, rather than Duke. In this movie, the Baroness BELIEVES this to be her motivation as well for most of the story, and has no idea that her brother is actually alive and is Cobra Commander. As in the comics, once the Baroness learns the truth surrounding her brother's death she ends up switching sides (although this took far longer in the comics and didn't involve betraying Destro). 3) Channing Tatum's acting as Duke is pretty lame. He gives a pretty lifeless, carboard performance. But then again, I've always found Duke to be a one dimensional and annoying character, despite ( or perhaps because of ) Hasbro's pathological obsession with trying to brand him as the epitome of what a Joe should be - so perhaps a lifeless performance for a lifeless character is appropriate. I totally don't buy the idea that he's nursing a broken heart and is love with the Baroness. He doesn't bother me quite as much in this movie as I expected he would, and at least he takes a backseat to Hawk as the leader, as he SHOULD. I was quite surprised that he is a Captain in this movie as he has traditionally been portrayed as a tough sergeant who refuses to be promoted to being an officer - again a fundamental aspect of the character that they felt the need to mess with for some reason. Although I suppose it is a minor detail, and his preference to stay in the thick of the fighting is referenced early on. The only positive thing about his portrayal is that I do buy into his comeradie with Ripcord. 4) For some reason, I started to lose interest a bit in the final act of the story after the Joes attack Cobra's arctic base. There were many good scenes in the movie during this part, but I felt that maybe it was a little TOO fast paced at this point, with just far too much going on all at once to keep track . We had Heavy Duty leading the S.H.A.R.C.s in a battle, Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow having their final confrontation, Duke and the Baroness chasing after Cobra Commander and Destro, Ripcord trying to shoot down missiles, Scarlett and Breaker doing something, Hawk giving orders back at HQ, the President of the USA going into a bunker, etc practically ALL AT ONCE. It was just too much and so I found it hard to focus on anything which made it hard to sustain my interest, which was a pity as I'd been really enjoying things up until then. 5) They killed Storm Shadow!! As bone-headed a move as killing off the Joker in the first Batman movie in my opinion. Who will possibly give Snake Eyes a run for his money in fights in future films? Also I really LIKED this version of the character. I was a little annoyed that they made him the actual killer of the Hard Master, rather than someone who had been framed for it like in the comics, but Storm Shadow's innocence in this matter is pretty unique to his comics incarnation - every other version has him playing a role in the murder. Despite this, he is still shown to have honor, such as when he argues with Zartan about Zartan's murder of a woman, and a flashback scene implies he DOES regret killing the Hard Master. His jealousy of Snake Eyes is right on target, but one also wonders if they were ever actually close friends - the film seems to show that they have always been rivals. One of the fuindamental themes of the GI Joe comics of Larry Hama was the idea of redemption- at one point or another almost all of the villians are redeemed and renounce their life of crime , even Cobra Commander almost gave it all up when his son was severely injured in car accident. Storm Shadow , who not only changed sides but actually served as an offical Joe for many years, is the best example of this. For them to kill him off before he can take that journey from villian to hero really annoys me. Hopefully there is a clone of him kicking around Dr. Mindbender's lab so he can return in a sequel. 6) Not enough focus on Snake Eyes for a movie that claims to draw more inspiration from the comics than the cartoon. Much of the character dynamics that exists between Snake Eyes and other characters in the comics have been transfered from Snake Eyes to Duke, such as who the Baroness blames for her brother's death, and the role Snake Eyes played in Cobra Commander's origin being totally absent and substituted for Duke playing a (totally different) major role in the character's origin. I'm guessing that this was done because Duke can actually talk and they wanted a pretty boy actor to be the focus of the story rather than a guy in mask. Understandable, I suppose, but it was a disapointment for me. Stuff that just confuses me: 1) If Snake Eyes can't talk because he took a vow of silence after the Hard Master was killed, does this mean (saints preserve us!) that he'll be talking in sequels? Or is his helicopter accident - disfigured me- and now I'm a mute -origin still somewhat intact? He still doesn't talk after Storm Shadow dies, and the reason why he always wears a mask isn't ever explained. 2) Who does Scarlett fancy? We see her leaning on Snake Eyes in one scene in a way which implies intimacy, and the fact that she seems to like him is remarked upon later - but by the end of the film she seems to be returning Ripcord's feelings. Or is she jsut happy that Ripcord is safe and cares about him as teammate? Is the kiss because he just saved millions of people or are they an item now? She doesn't say that she's dating Snake Eyes when he's trying to come on to her early on, but instead implies that she just doesn't believe in love. A Ripcord. Scarlett romance is an interesting and strange choice since she is traditionally and most popularly paired up with Snake Eyes, or in the cartoons, Duke (yuck!). 3) Was the Doctor/Cobra Commander in charge the whole time, or does he sieze control from Destro after injecting him with nanomites, which obviously gives him some kind of control over Destro's mind since he seems to be trying to fight him when he makes him bow to him (which I loved!). It isn't hard to imagine that all the Vipers would be instantly loyal to him since he can control their minds. 4) Is the Asian girl wearing the invisibilty suit and kicking everyone's butt in one brief scene Jinx? Please say "yes"! Alos, pleae tell me that Zartan gets his hands on one of those suits in the sequel! So how do I rate this? The comic books continue to be the THE quintessential version of GI Joe as far as I'm concerned. But this version is certainly better than a lot of the crap trying to pass as GIJoe that we've been given over the years. If you can get over your nostalgia, you'll have to admit that it's better than practically every Joe cartoon aside from Resolute. Of course this is coming from someone who is NOT and never will be, a hardcore fan of the cartoons. I think it does a decent job of doing what any successful version of GI Joe MUST do if it's going to come close to pleasing the majority of fans, which is to try and find a happy middle ground between the realism of the comics and the fantasy of the cartoons. It's a fun ride, a decent summer movie to take up a lazy afternoon. Far better than I expected, but then again I wasn't expecting much. I hope it does well enough to warrant a sequel as the ending leaves you begging for one. With the characters having been established in this film a sequel could really crank things up to a awesome level.

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