Movie Review: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)

August 8, 2009 in Movie Reviews by pacejmiller


G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is the type of summer blockbuster that is fated to be panned by critics, regardless of whether it actually deserves to be reviled.  In my humble opinion, if you know what to expect with this type of film (and come on, you should if you go to see it), it’s not actually all that bad.

First of all, it should be noted that while I may or may not have played with the Hasbro action figures (which may or may not have been cheap rip-offs) when I was younger, I am not very familiar with the G.I. Joe ‘story’, if there is one.  Nevertheless, that isn’t very important to this movie.

I won’t reveal the plot because there’s really no point – take a guess and you’ll probably be close.  You don’t need me to tell you that the film revolves around the ‘Joes’ who are trying to stop their evil enemies from world domination.  Trust me, it’s predictable – even the so-called twists are.  It’s also likely to be the first of many G.I. Joe films to come, depending on the success of this first one.

Anyway, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is pretty much what you’d expect from a film of this kind.  It has a superb cast: Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Marlon Wayans, Christopher Eccleston, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jonathan Pryce, Arnold Vosloo (the Mummy!), Brendan Fraser (cameo) and Ray Park (Darth Maul!).  It also features some sub-par acting, at least by these actors’ standards.

Also as expected, the film is extremely loud and relentless, with non-stop action and all types of battle scenes, from the ground to the sky to the sea, from hand-to-hand combat to exhilarating sword fights, from bullets to hi-tech blasters to ninja stars, and of course the obligatory car chase scenes – you name it, you got it.  All of these sequences are filmed with the subtlety of a sledge-hammer, and while some of it was exciting, it still felt like something was missing.  Perhaps it was the predictability, the apparent invincibility of the characters, or maybe it was just a lack of heart.

The special effects go without saying.  It’s seamless and often eye-popping.  However, it is the stuff that doesn’t rely on special effects – the hand-t0-hand and particularly the sword fights – that really steal the show.  They are meticulously choreographed and there’s no over-use of quick-cut editing.  Oh, and there’s also the cool technological gadgets, weapons and machinery.  If you can suspend all disbelief then you may think they are pretty cool.

So far so good.  Unfortunately, as expected, the good parts also come hand in hand with the appalling dialogue, the cheesy one-liners and horrible jokes that only generate laughs because they’re so bad.  Cringeworthy bad.

There you have it.  G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is what it is.  As long as you don’t expect something else then you may find it quite enjoyable, though even then, it has its limitations.

3 stars out of 5!