Saturday, August 8, 2009

Is G. I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra a touch of nostalgia

A touch of nostalgia? Not quite. Looking at the plot, characters, and action sequences, the movie does hit a lot of high notes. Unfortunately, it does not manage to hit them all. The overall plot was quite old school G.I. Joe. It is still the good guys versus the bad guys with the entire world on the line. The Joes and Cobra still have the best high tech toys, shown best through Duke and his original crew taking on the Cobra attack squad. One major high note, they managed to work in the old laser noise the show was known for. For that, high marks.

However, my single biggest problem with the movie was the character of Baroness (Sienna Miller). It was already shown in the previews she was not going to have her trademark accent. Every word coming out of her mouth does not sound like it should be followed by ‘Hiel, Hitler’. That was a bit disappointing. Not the most disappointing thing about her character though. Her real name is Ana Lewis, she used to be a blonde, and was once Duke’s fiancĂ©e (Channing Tatum plays Duke). It was enough to set off a random bout of blinking followed by a spontaneous what! Adding to that the revelation that her supposedly dead brother Rex (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)is Cobra Commander and she is being controlled by nanotechnology and I just had a hard time wrapping my head around it all.

The character of Destro (Christopher Eccleston) is given some historical context, though the why is a little iffy. As important as the character is to push the plot forward, the opening vignette showing his background seemed tacked on. The movie could have run just as well without it and no one would have missed a thing.

Cobra Commander is actually a man named Rex Lewis, Baroness’s brother, disfigured by a fire, who worked under Dr. Mindbender (Kevin J. O'Connor). Considering Rex is wearing a monocle, I thought he was Dr. Mindbender. After all, he was doing Mindbender’s job of creating new technology for Cobra.

Then there is Zartan (Arnold Vosloo), who actually seems to be less crazy now that he is no longer wearing the raccoon make-up and running with a biker gang. He manages to play a pretty pivotal role in the story despite barely being involved in anything at all directly.

Characterization seems to have been something of a problem. The Joes were well done. The Cobra operatives needed serious work. While the changes and additions might have been interesting or necessary, they were also rather distracting.

Now what to say about the action sequences, they were beautiful, well-done, and gripping. My favorite, oddly enough, is Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) versus Snake Eyes (Ray Park) as children. While not as CGI dependent as some of the other scenes, I still find it the most entertaining because Snake Eyes spits food in Storm Shadow’s face. Not exactly an expected tactic, but amusing just the same. The longest sequence is Duke and Ripcord running through Paris with the accelerator suits. This sequence has some amazing acrobatics in it. My favorite is the landing from going over and through the train. Both Duke and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) end up flattened on top of a car and have a short discussion about the suit and its manual. A bit of levity to pull back from the tenseness of the situation.

Overall, I would not recommend seeing G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra for the similarity to the old cartoon show. I would recommend it as a decent action movie.

Follow up from HERE

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