Film Review: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

This movie was supposed to suck.

Wooden performances, a complete lack of characterization, unintelligible action sequences, nonsensical plot elements, it was supposed to be the “Mansquito” of our day.

Well, I’ve got to say, it absolutely doesn’t suck. It was quite enjoyable.

The special effects and action sequences were, as might be assumed, impeccable. Planes, missiles, armor, subs, huge honkin’ underwater cities… wow. Rendered beautifully.

There were a lot of nods to the old cartoon show. I won’t put in lots of spoilers, but there were references to the old 12″ action figures, G.I. Joe: The Movie opening credits, and of course the staples of the show itself like Zartan. Listen to the names; you’ll hear lots that’s familiar. And the vehicles. And the balloons. I can’t help but think the balloons were deliberate.

There was also the pacing and setting. I don’t think there were six consecutive minutes where someone wasn’t being shot, blown up, pushed through a window, chased, or something. It felt like the cartoon; action-action-action. I liked that. I especially liked the nod to the MASS Device and Weather Dominator multi-part stories. Each featured distinct environments, and the movie doesn’t disapp0int. There’s mountains, glaciers, underwater, etc. Just like I would have expected to see in a big cartoon episode. Well done.

All in all, a well done film. I’d rate it better than Star Trek, which I also liked. Don’t expect Olivier, but it’s not the crap-fest that some seem to be portraying it as. It’s all action, and has suitable nods to the original. I just hope in the sequel they change Cobra Commander’s helmet (which was sucktactular), and give the Cobra troops a blue uniform. Then I would be in hog heaven.

EDIT: For Lance, who asked the question in the comments, I give you:

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Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

8 thoughts on “Film Review: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

  1. Interesting.

    I enjoyed the toys and the Marvel comics as a kid, but skipped the cartoons (as I did many of the shows of that particular Saturday Morning season). This is a film I fully intended to pass on as well…but your nice review has probably just landed some more money in the film studio's coffers.

    Word Verification: Corsica (that should have been a GI Joe code name!)

  2. 99% of the film was surprisingly decent – way better than that crappy transformers movie – but there were a good three or four points that were absolutely cringe-worthy. The one in particular that made me weep was right at the end where… um… lets say a screenwriter forgot to ask, say, a fifth grader about a rather critical scientific fact.

  3. I was a fan of the 12" G.I. Joe and never got into the later versions. But once again your review now makes me want to a see a movie that I thought would sucks. (The first was Terminator)

    Only this one I can take my 12 year old too.

  4. Saw it. Entertaining and definitely not as bad as, say, Van Helsing, which I thought was a tragedy compared to the Mummy trilogy (I thought the first movie awesome, the second trying to hard to out-do the first and failing but otherwise entertaining, and Scorpion King enjoyable in a safe "PG-13 Conan" kinda way). There were a few head-scratching moments of course ("heavy ice" anyone…?), but overall, a half-decent turn your brain off and enjoy the mania kinda summer matinee movie.

    And that youtube video is just pure effing awesome. Sigh…the first G.I. Joe movie was so badass…

  5. My alternate ending for the film goes basically like this: (MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW)

    Cobra Commander: "You Joes can't outwit me, Duke! Behold my Ultimate Brilliance!"

    ***The iceberg explodes***

    CC: (laughs maniacally while everyone else falls completely silent, watching. After an increasingly awkward minute or so, CC's laugh falters, then grinds to an agonizing halt.)

    Duke: (Looks at the shattered iceberg, still on the surface of the ocean, and shakes his head in disbelief) "Wow. Did you honestly think that would work? I thought you were supposed to be some kind of genius or something?"

    CC: "Uh… I… Um… Maybe?" (Runs out of the room)

    ***Flash forward to Cobra Commander brooding and fuming in jail and the Joes high-fiving each other.***

    General Hawk: (Drops an ice cube into a glass of water) Now you know… and knowing is half the battle!

    ***Roll credits***

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