Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

G.I. Joe

Review by Patrick Hodges

There’s always ONE. 

Every summer season, there’s always that one non-stop, action-packed adrenaline rush, that grabs a hold of you from the outset and doesn’t let go until the credits roll two hours later.  The one that doesn’t worry about being overly ponderous, and doesn’t get bogged down in some deeper meaning.  The one where the action and effects are the star, and you love it so much that you don’t care how average the acting is.

The summer of 2009 has actually had two such films.  The first was Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, but the biggest problem with that film was that although the effects were absolutely top-notch, the story was overly long and got hamstrung, in numerous places, by its attempts to appeal to the preteen audience via juvenile and infantile humor.  (Seriously, a farting robot?  Jeez…)

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra succeeds where Transformers failed:  it aimed at a slightly more mature audience, and it just kept going.  There was plenty of humor, mostly supplied by Marlon Wayans.  There were plenty of hissably evil bad guys, including Bond-villain-billionare-type McCullen (Christopher Eccleston), the disfigured scientist “The Doctor” (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and the sultry femme fatale “The Baroness” (Sienna Miller).

Fighting them are the good guys, the G.I. Joe force, the Hasbro characters brought to life.  Led by Gen. Hawk (Dennis Quaid), and including Scarlett (Rachel Nichols), Breaker (Said Taghmaoui), Heavy Duty (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and the silent-but-deadly Snake Eyes (Ray Park).  Also present are soldiers Ripcord (Wayans) and Duke (Channing Tatum), who join the G.I. Joe team when a supply of nannite-filled warheads are stolen by the villains.

Director Stephen Sommers, if you remember, directed the 1999 hit The Mummy, and it may amuse you to learn that there are no less than THREE stars from that film in G.I. Joe (albeit in small roles):  Brendan Fraser, Arnold Vosloo and Kevin J. O’Connor.  Keep an eye out for them!

There are flashbacks aplenty, which is forgivable given that it’s an “origin” story, and as I’ve said, the effects are terrific.  (The scene from the trailer, where the Eiffel Tower topples to the ground, is first-rate.)  There are a few bits where the CGI is obvious, but it doesn’t really detract from one’s enjoyment of the film.

If this film is a success, I anticipate two more sequels (they definitely set the table for at least one more).  I was thoroughly impressed with this effort, and I already can’t wait for the next one.

4 ½ / 5 stars

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