Friday, August 7, 2009

GI Joe: The Rise of Corba...The Fall of Sommers...and a toy line

"Wait! Time for Flashback!"

GI JOE: The Rise of Cobra is nothing more than vehicle to sell toys for Hasbro and a great time waster as a summer film. Hasbro and Paramount thought lightning could easily strike twice and if the Transformers franchise works in Hollywood then certainly the Joes would as well.

Nope. I would not be holding out any hopes that this is the launch of great new film franchise and that any sequel will be rushed into production soon. While I would not categorize the film as unwatchable, it’s certainly forgettable. If you grew up as a fan of the GI Joe franchise since the ‘80s, you will find the characters or motivations bear little resemblance to anyone in the original animated series or toy lines. The only exception being the popular good-guy and elite ninja, Snake Eyes.

This film is a mess and looks and feels like it was edited and re-edited over and over by a lot of different people before the final version was settled upon. Flashback sequences are cut up and sprinkled nearly every ten minutes throughout the course of the story. There are different flashbacks for multiple characters and it interrupts the flow of the film constantly. Not that the main plot is that engrossing but seriously, as an example, how often do we need to be reminded that Duke and the Baroness had a history? Hey! Another flashback of Duke kissing a blonde Baroness! Later…Hey! A Baroness flashback of her kissing Duke! I guess they meant something to each other at one point. Hmmm.

Yes, this is primarily a film that is meant to drive every 10 year old boy straight into a toy aisle. There are lots of ‘splosions, ninja fights, crazy cool high tech gadgets and vehicles. But most of the action sequences have been lifted off a history of popular action or sci-fi films. The entire last big battle sequence is practically stolen shot for shot from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi for God’s sake. Apparently the writers really liked that film. Check it out, you’ll see I’m not kidding…The Rebel fleet assault on the Death Star/Main bad guy base: a desperate sword fight inside between good and evil; a good guy crack team struggles to take out a big weapon that is firing on the fleet outside; a vehicle chase in a narrow cavern that ends with a huge fire ball hurling through this cavern and our heroes making it out just in time! It’s amazing these filmmakers got away with that much stolen material.

A few of the actors actually seem to be trying in this film so it’s easy to feel bad for them. Especially the two lead actresses, Sienna Miller as the Baroness and Rachel Nichols as Scarlett. Both hot, both trying to give their limited characters depth and emotion. Even a few of the background characters are better than the main ones. Said Taghmaoui as Breaker for example was way more interesting than either Duke or Ripcord. But there are also the total worthless lumps like the awful dull Channing Tatum as Duke. Poor Dennis Quaid tries as General Hawk but I have a feeling between the crappy writing and messy editing, he got the short shrift.

With the additional marketing tossed at this film by Paramount in the past several weeks, the reported cost of the film has reached the 300 million mark. I’d be very surprised to see this little project will come anywhere close to that number even with the worldwide tally added in. Hell, not even with any DVD sales added in. Which is why it’s not hard to predict that even though the film ends with a definitive opening for a sequel, don’t hold your breath for it anytime soon.

The director Stephen Sommers now cements himself firmly in hack status in Hollywood. Can’t afford a talented action director for your film? Call Sommers! He’ll be happy to crap it out for you. He’s seen Star Wars films too after all.

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