With the success of 2007's Transformers live action movie, it's no surprise that another Hasbro brand, G.I. Joe
would finally get a live action movie treatment. I remember being somewhere in my pre-teens and seeing live action G.I. Joe toy
commercials that seemed to hint at the idea of a live action movie coming to light. To my disappointment, and to the disappointment
of many children at the time, no such movie materialized. Like Transformers, G.I. Joe was given the animated
movie treatment in 1987 in a straight-to-video form, but it suffered some of the similar slash-n-burn rebooting of the series
that the giant robot franchise also received.
For a director that knows nothing about restraint or subtlety, I suppose the G.I. Joe franchise is a perfect match.
Stephen Sommers shot to fame with the success of his 1999 film The Mummy, starring Brendan Fraser and Arnold Vosloo,
which spawned his 2001 follow-up, The Mummy Returns. In the film's sequel, Sommers didn't hold back and opted for "bigger"
in hopes it would be better. It was anything but better and this lust for excess also brought down the 2004 Hugh Jackman vehicle
Van Helsing. As far as I and a lot of summer blockbuster movie fans were concerned, Sommers was a one-hit-wonder.
And with a blase trailer issued for his latest venture, G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra, no one really had much faith
that Sommers could deliver a credible film. The end result? G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra is everything you might
expect from Sommers, but more entertaining than one would assume.
First off, for those reading this and thinking, "So the Transformers films have been anything but kid friendly,
how does G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra measure up?" Sadly, it's about the same. Both franchises seem targeted for people
my age who grew up on the cartoons and the toys, and both play to the inner child still residing within us late-twenty-somethings/
early-thirty "man-boys." G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra is an adrenaline rush and action film that's light on story and
believability, but heavy on action, destruction, and eye candy. And while the latter may be something that both Transformers
films thrive on immensely, G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra pales in comparison when it comes to quality. With much of the
action and scenery depending on special effects and CGI work, it's more than apparent that ILM didn't work on G.I. Joe like
it did for Transformers, and this helps keep G.I. Joe feeling cheesier than it needed to be at points. The other
moments that leant to the cheese factor, however, are some of the dialog, including a few love triangle plot elements that the
story didn't need, and some corny attempts at humor (Really? We needed a Wayans brother in this for comic relief? No, I don't think
The content sends up a dramatic red flag when it comes to violence. While the Transformers films weren't very graphic
or gory, G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra does have its moments that could traumatize the younger kids and cause even some
older folks to want to look away. Despite more than several characters walking away with bloody heads at different points in
the movie, we see a shirtless man endure several bloody sword cuts, the disfigured face of someone scarred by a blast,
a person's head covered in bloody burn marks (with their hair burnt off), a person screaming as their face starts to deteriorate,
and finally a bloody-faced corpse that gruesomely begins to rapidly decompose before the Joes' very eyes. It's stuff like this
that aim this film at the adults much more so than children, even though the film certainly has Hasbro aiming a toyline at the
young ones regardless. On top of the bloody/gory moments, we see lots of cut-away violence that includes dismemberments and, especially,
impalements. We'll see a sword go through a laptop sort of gadget in front of someone (from behind, so we don't see it sticking
through the person directly), or a throwing star sticking out of a Viper's helmet eye-hole. Stuff like that that isn't entirely
subtle, but indirectly shows gruesome violence.
There's also a hearty helping of language included. Five prominent "s" words are featured, as well as a sprinkling
of "h*ll" and "d*mn," a pair of "S.O.B," as well as other colorful obscenities. In the end, you wonder why this was necessary,
especially when the film embraces an overall campy/lighthearted approach.
As far as story and overall film quality? As a fan of G.I. Joe as a kid, who collected the figures passionately
and followed the TV show, I did enjoy the sort of Saturday morning cartoon for adults feel of G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra,
even if Sommers went over the top with junky content at times (the language especially felt out of place). And since the cartoon
show never showed characters dying, but always had them narrowly escape, it seemed pretty drastic for there to be excessive fatalities
shown in The Rise Of Cobra. It was especially fun to see characters like Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow come to life on the
big screen (and both handled fairly well), but I was ultimately disappointed by the handling of characters like Duke, Ripcord,
and especially Cobra Commander. I did appreciate the setups for Destro and Zartan and even a nod to Dr. Mindbender (unrecognizably played
by Kevin J. O'Connor who also appeared in the first Mummy film). Dennis Quaid brought a tad of star power to the film
as the beloved Joe leader, General Hawk, and he handled the character rather well. Since this story is meant to just set
everything up for future films, I'm really hoping we'll get to see characters like Flint, Beachhead, Firefly, Barbecue, Roadblock,
Dusty, and Shipwreck in coming installments. I can't say I'm entirely pleased with how they wrapped up a few characters rather
prematurely in this origin story, so hopefully they'll either remedy that as well, or just use it to be able to focus more on
future characters instead. The only other truly unnecessary approach here was also one of the problems for this Summer's
Wolverine origin flick. In The Rise Of Cobra, we're treated to several flashback moments in order to establish
some character development, and while it works for moments with Duke for the most part, the flashbacks to Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow
as children are a bit iffy, even though the moments with Wolverine as a child were much much worse.
I have to admit, I expected a trainwreck with G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra and instead was met with more of a fender bender
with a few major issues thrown in for good measure (like the content problems). As purely entertainment and nothing more, the
first installment in the G.I. Joe franchise is a pretty good start and I'm very curious to see where it goes from here.
It's certainly not as well done as the 2007 Transformers or this year's Star Trek reboot, but as another action
movie inspired by toys and a cartoon series, G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra makes for a pretty fun time at the movies.
But take my advice - this one is not for the kiddies.
- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 8/2/09)
Parental Guide: Brief Summary of Content
Storm Shadow tells Baroness that the Baron is not allowed to touch her and she makes a comment about the Baron - who is also her
husband - having to touch her (meaning sexually, but it's handled in a very non-obvious way); We see Baroness and McCullen
passionately kiss; Scarlett shows some cleavage in different scenes; Baroness shows pronounced cleavage in several scenes
5 "s" words, 1 "g*dd*mn," possibly 1 "J*sus," 10 "h*ll," 5 "d*mn," 2 "S.O.B," 1 "a" word, 1 "*ssh*le,"
3 "b*stard," 1 "p*ss me off," around 5 derivatives of "G-d"
There may be some wine or drinks in a restaurant/banquet scene
Duke has some small scars on his face; We see a flashback that shows blood on Duke's face. We then see a different part of the
flashback with some bloody scabs on his face; After a car explosion, we see a dead body with blood all over the person's face. We
then see the body again later and a vivid shot of Breaker jabbing two rods into the dead man's head. The body then convulses
and the face begins to mutate and decompose rapidly in a gory way until it's nothing but dust; We see several needles enter a man's
face. His face then contorts and he convulses a bit (but is not dead); A man removes his mask and wig to reveal lots of scarring and burn tissue
all over his face; A snake bites a man's arm and then we see a close up of the bloody bite marks. The camera zooms into the wound and
digitally into the blood stream to show nanites fighting snake venom. When the camera zooms out of the bite, we see snake venom
ooze out of the bloody holes; A woman has blood on her head after an accident; A man has some blood on his chest; A bandage
on Duke shows a tiny bit of blood; We see a flashback when two kids fight and one of them has a bloody nose and some blood on his
head; During a sword fight, we see a man's cut clothing and some blood through the torn suit. He then rips off his shirt and we
see multiple bloody gashes on his body for the rest of the fight; We see a laser sight appear on a man's head and when a gun
is fired on him, the head disappears as the body quickly hits the ground; We see blood on a knife that Storm Shadow used to stab
someone; Many times we see what looks like a Cobra symbol burned into a person's neck; A man's head gets severely burned
and we then see their face covered in blood and burn marks. Their neck is then injected with something that covers their skin; We
see several non-gory impalings including, but not limited to: a sword through a person through an electronic device, a forklift
through a person through a pillar; throwing stars into the mask openings of Vipers; sudden dismemberments via sword but done quickly
Everything above mentioned in Blood/Gore plus explosions of vehicles, the Eiffel Tower destroyed by nanites; vehicles crashing
killing their passengers; car accidents and automobiles being tossed into the air, exploding, and/or crashing; sword fighting
(some lethal); shooting (some lethal); and other action-movie/military violence
** Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most
reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not on content. However, if the content
really affects the reviewer's opinion of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's rating.