Review: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Note: The review isn't entirely in capital letters. I promise.

Note: The review isn't entirely in capital letters. I promise.

Synopsis: OH MY GOD THERE ARE NINJAS AND PEOPLE SHOOTING OTHER PEOPLE AND EXPLOSIONS AND PEOPLE CAUSING EXPLOSIONS AND THEN NINJAS SHOOTING PEOPLE AND NINJAS CAUSING EXPLOSIONS AND THEY HAVE THESE AWESOME SUITS WHICH MAKE THEM RUN REALLY FAST SO THAT THEY CAN CAUSE MORE EXPLOSIONS FASTER AND THEN THERE ARE HOT CHICKS WHO WEAR REVEALING ATTIRE WHILE SHOOTING PEOPLE AND CAUSING EXPLOSIONS AND THEY HAVE AWESOME VEHICLES THAT BLOW UP THINGS INCLUDING EACH OTHER’S AWESOME  VEHICLES AND THEN THEY BLOW UP HALF OF FRANCE AND SCARE THE CRAP OUT OF A POLAR BEAR AND OH MY GOD THERE’S THIS DUDE WHO MIND CONTROLS OTHER PEOPLE SO THEY CAN SHOOT PEOPLE AND BLOW THINGS UP AND THERE’S ALSO A COUPLE OF BACK STORIES BUT THEY DON’T HAVE EXPLOSIONS (WELL EXCEPT FOR ONE) PLUS THEY’RE SPOILERRIFIC SO I WON’T TALK ABOUT THEM BUT MY GOD THE BADASSERY OF THIS FILM-

Recommended for: WHAT THE HELL AM I TALKING EVERYONE SHOULD WATCH THIS MOVIE IT IS FRIGGIN’ AWESOME IT’S LIKE IF IRON MAN AND TRANSFORMERS HAD A BABY AND THAT BABY GREW UP TO HAVE A ONE-NIGHT STAND WITH 300 AND PICKED UP ITS SLOW-THINGS-DOWN-TO-ACCENTUATE-THE-BADASSERY TECHNIQUE AND THEN HAD A BUNCH OF RANDOM HOOKUPS WITH BATMAN BEGINS AND SPIDERMAN AND CASINO ROYALE AND ALL THOSE AWESOME ORIGIN FILMS NOT NECESSARILY IN THAT ORDER BUT YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN!!! OH MY GOD, I’M HAVING TROUBLE BREATHING…

I would also recommend this film to anyone who wants an action-packed summer flick with an actual plot. Sorry Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, but saying that you have a plot just because you have giant robots and giant explosions would be like saying that a person wearing a transparent poncho isn’t naked. It’s technically correct, but not really.

Review: Now, let me tell you the story of a young boy who was a big fan of G.I. Joe. Although he was obsessed with action figures, his parents allowed him to have only one of the G.I. Joes, which was a pity since he really appreciated the articulated joints which were absent in his other figures. This was not because his parents could not afford the toys, but because they would rather have him pursue some more constructive activities like Lego or even video games. Actually, this is just the speculation of the young boy. Unfortunately, his only G.I. Joe action figure, whose name escapes him at this moment, met its demise when he wanted to know how far he could stretch the action figure, causing it to snap into two pieces a la Darth Maul. Oh, that’s why his parents didn’t get him more of them. Well, that child quickly got over the incident and moved onto other awesome things like Transformers and Iron Man. He never even watched the cartoons before he gave up on the franchise. That boy is me, if you hadn’t figured that out by now. Well, they’ve made Transformers, Iron Man, and now G.I. Joe into kickass movies, so all I have to wait for is a Bill Nye the Science Guy feature film, and my life will be complete.
Now, I will confess that I barely knew anything about the G.I. Joe universe when I first heard about this movie. All I knew was Cobra bad, G.I. Joe good. So I did a little research and came to the conclusion that Cobra bad, G.I. Joe good. So with that knowledge, I watched the movie. Turns out that I didn’t even need to know that much. The story, which starts off in the manner of Iron Man where a convoy transporting some new nanobot warheads gets attacked by a mysterious organization, and that mysterious organization steals the warheads and tries to take over the world in a convoluted scheme worthy of the Cobra name and the Joes try to stop them, causing lots of explosions along the way.

Also, there’s a plot involving Duke (a survivor of the convoy and prospective Joe played by the Billy Elliot dude from Step Up) and the Baroness (Cobra’s very own sexy librarian rawr). This plot is very interesting because it shows that cuddling on the grass on a beautiful sunny day is the most powerful memory that one person can possess. I won’t say why because it’s a spoiler, but let’s just say that it’s a memory powerful enough to override the most technologically advanced form of mind control that is available in the G.I. Joe universe. Fascinatingly touching moment in a movie that prides itself on its badassery.  Another plot involves Snake Eyes (G.I.’s very own mute ninja whose facemask is almost as mind-boggling as Batman’s, ahem, detailed suit in Batman and Robin) and Storm Shadow (Cobra’s resident ninja played by Korean superstar Lee Byung-Hun) and these two subplots which serves to beef up the story, although I feel that they could have easily expanded on either of the plots. I guess they didn’t want to make the movie too long. But there’s plenty of action along the way, so you will enjoy the ride.
A lot of the action is concentrated in a sequence that takes place in Paris which ends up with the Eiffel Tower being destroyed in what seems to be an homage to Team America, a gritty war film that I think won the Oscar or something. The Eiffel Tower getting destroyed is not a spoiler, anyone who saw the trailers knew that was coming. But I couldn’t help but wonder, what is with 2009 movies and Paris? I mean, first they scared the crap out of prospective Paris travelers in Taken, then alien robots made Paris their stomping ground in Transformers, and now an international terrorist organization with advanced weaponry and a crack team of the world’s elite military forces chasing them lay waste to a significant portion of the City of Lights and cause a massive traffic jam along the Champs-Elysees. Not to mention the whole Eiffel Tower thing. Paris seems like a nice place to be IF YOU WANT TO DIE.
Speaking of advanced weaponry, you’ll also enjoy the various weapons and vehicles that are used in the film. Everyone knows that G.I. Joe is a line of action figures, so naturally, the vehicles look like some of the toys that they’ve been selling for years, like a jetpack or a one-man submarine vehicle (I think the proper term is SHARC), but it’s amazing how convincing they make them in the movie. Then again, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by the cool factor of cartoon vehicles after what they pulled off with Transformers. I honestly wanted to buy a couple of the vehicles while I was watching the movie. That would probably be a bad idea, since I’d most likely use them to film a Michael Bay-esque low budget version of the film using semi-legal amounts of explosives.
Now, they really did a good job casting the characters. In particular, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s casting as the Cobra Commander was possibly the most brilliant decision made by a movie studio to use a talented actor in an unrecognizable role since Edward Norton was put in a mask for the entirety of Kingdom of Heaven. Although Joseph Gordon-Levitt does get some screen time sans the mask in some spoiler-tastic scenes that will make you pee in your pants if you know that JGL is the Cobra Commander. You know what? JGL sounds a little awkward, let’s call him Jiggles. That has a nice ring to it. So anyway, Jiggles does a great job as the Cobra Commander considering how hard it is to transform a character who is traditionally an over-the-top evildoer and hysterically incompetent into a vaguely menacing villain that you wouldn’t really want to be in the same room with, although the earlier part of his performance does seem a little too comically mad-scientisty at times. But it’s all good. Indeed, Jiggles doesn’t get to come into his own as the Cobra Commander until the very end of the movie, but it’s pretty interesting to see how he manages to take control of a military organization run by another megalomaniac (Spoiler: mind control). He almost gets away with it, too.

In fact, Cobra in general doesn’t seem quite as phenomenally incompetent as its reputation would suggest. It is a well-known fact in nerddom that the Cobra Vipers boast a survival rate that is rivaled only by the Red Shirts of Starfleet and Imperial Stormtroopers. They are actually a competitive military force who manage to wreak havoc on the G.I. Joe’s super secret base and trash most of the G.I. Joes. In fact, in a fight between the grunts, it would seem that Cobra has the upper hand. Unfortunately, G.I. Joe’s Alpha Team (the A-Team?) is just as competent as Cobra’s elite and almost as badass, and sadly the Baroness and Storm Shadow aren’t enough to face down the numerically superior A-Team. Even with Jiggles’ magic nanomites. A pity, considering that they are pretty badass.

This is a badass summer movie. If you want a summer movie that you can simply enjoy for the thrill, this is the summer movie for you. If you want a summer movie that may have a bit more complexity than just mindless action, this is the summer movie for you. Yeah, it’s pretty much the best summer movie I’ve seen this summer. Except for 500 Days of Summer, which I haven’t seen yet. Wow, that’s a lot of summer.

Lessons Learned
Cuddling on the grass on a sunny day can override any sort of mind-control: See above to see what I’m talking about. So if you happen to be in danger of being brain-washed, if you have one of these memories, you’ll be fine. You might kill a hell of a lot of people along the way, but you’ll make it through! And if you don’t, well, sucks to be you.
Particle accelerators have absolutely no use except mass destruction: As if we needed a reminder.

Sienna Miller is purty: Like, really really purty. The whole sexy-librarian-who-shoots-people-in-the-face angle really works, too.

Jiggles’ most recent movie (500 Days of Summer) and this movie may be connected: I’ll explain this later once people have seen G.I. Joe, but let’s just say, Jiggles may not have completely gotten over Summer and he may have some issues.

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