Thursday, August 6, 2009
Overheard exiting the theater:
"That was the best movie I've ever seen!" -- pre-teen boy
"Ya know, that movie was rather good." -- 20-something female
"That was pretty cool. And actually wasn't cheesy." -- my wife, who had no interest in seeing it
I had zero presumption that G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra would be a good movie, but I owed it to my 8-year old self to suck it up and buy a ticket. That kid watched the Real American Hero animated iteration of G.I. Joe every day after school, had nearly every one of the original line-up of Hasbro action figures and vehicles, and would choose an issue of the Marvel Comics series over anything else on the Cappy's spinner rack at the time.
That kid is smiling tonight, and so am I. As skeptical as I was, as low as my expectations were, and as stupid as I think putting a mouth on Snake Eyes's mask is, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was great!
Now, let me translate that for those of you not driven by nostalgia or childish glee when choosing your entertainment. G.I. Joe is not a good film, but it is a thrilling romp. It's an amusement park ride.
Joe purists will be disappointed that Sienna Miller's Baroness doesn't have that sexy Eurotrash accent that helped put us all on the fast track to puberty, or that Arnold Vosloo's Zartan doesn't wear Kiss make-up and a towel on his head...but other than that, I'm hard pressed to think of any way director Stephen Sommer's and company failed to make exactly the kind of movie I would have gone ape shit over as a kid.
In fact, considering those two possible gripes, consider these upsides:
>>The Baroness's revised backstory may not be 100% what you remember as a kid, but the changes they've made are what drive the story in order to fit all the other mythology that they do get right into a fast-paced 2 hour package. Plus, fellas, she still causes plenty of mayhem and shows more than enough cleavage to make up for that corny accent you think you miss.
>>Zartan is a relative bit player next to the other bad guys, but Vosloo--who, by the way, deserves your eternal thanks for helping make Hard Target awesome so many years ago--captures the sinister cutthroat mercenary edge that made the master of disguise my favorite Cobra creep back in the day.
You should also keep in mind that, despite that annoying case of mask mouth, Ray Park IS Snake Eyes. So is Leo Howard, the little kid who plays "Young Snake Eyes" and has an even better fight chemistry with Young Storm Shadow than Park does with the adult white ninja.
And, if I can take a moment to drop a SPOILER...they filmmakers don't waste their resources by killing off all the great villains in the first film, leaving us with nothing bu Croc Master and Major Bludd for the sequel. Instead, they leave the possibility for any one of them to return. (END SPOILER)
I didn't love every single frame of this movie. It has it's plotholes, a few hammy actors, some shoddy CGI, and even the stuff that works is covered in extra cheese. But you can't get hung up on plotholes and cheese when you know the source material--with all it's Weather Dominators, Cold Slither, and evil acrobatic twins who feel each other's pain. The bad CGI is totally overshadowed by more than enough effects that really are special. And if you're worried about hammy acting in a summer action movie, just brace yourself for the Dennis Quaid factor (not to mention an early Brendan Fraser cameo).
This is the kind of movie where a character is named "Dr. Mindbender" with no explanation or apologies. This is a movie where Marlon Wayans plays an action hero, and you believe he can save the day. This a movie where every scene is filled with ridiculous feats of technology, gadgetry, combat, and physical endurance...yet doesn't require any feat in plausibility or patience to accept in the cartoon hyper-reality that the story is set.
G.I. Joe is more fun than Funny People, has more tricks than Harry Potter, and is loaded with more vehicular mayhem than Transformers. It's a movie made for little boys who love their toys. I'd imagine you might get a similar movie-going experience if you were to view The Hurt Locker after a 6-pack of Red Bull and a few hits of crack. This movie doesn't just deserve those jumbo collector's cups--it demands them, and it earns all 32 ounces of slushie within!
If you want to have a good time at the movies, go see G.I. Joe.
THIS I command!
Wait, what was that? You didn't like Hard Target? Really? Not even the part with Wilford Brimley dodging explosions on horseback? You probably won't like this one either. Sorry.