If you had told my child-self back in 1984 or 1985 that the Summer of 2009 would provide cinematic audiences with not only a live action Wolverine movie, but live action Transformers and G.I. Joe movies, I would have pissed myself with uncontainable excitement. If you were then to have told my younger self that all three movies would suck Cobra Commander's hairy, unwashed, and sweaty ballsack I would have called you a "filthy fucking liar," and probably tried to kick you in the shins or between your legs out of anger and despair.
I've got to stop myself right there. Yes, Wolverine and Bayformers 2: Revenge of Devastator's Wrecking-Balls Scrotum are awful, awful movies that should never have been made (let alone made and had way too many unsuspecting viewers pay their hard-earned cash to see and line the pockets of uncaring millionaire studio heads), but G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra really isn't that bad. Really.
No, it's not a great movie — it missed a LOT of easy opportunities to make itself really cut-ass rugged — and I personally hoped for a lot more out of it (with my unrealistic expectations making me think "Man, they made Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl based off a ride at Disneyland... Just think what they can do with G.I. Joe! They have 150 issues of Larry Hama comic book-written goodness, and like 95 episodes of cheezy 80s cartoons to base something pretty sweet on"). In all honesty I could easily write a giant G.I. Joe Versus Cobra and Physics page out of this flick, but when I first thought of doing something like that, that's when it hit me: They actually made a live action G.I. Joe cartoon. And it's actually really fun... IF you're in the right mood for it. This is NOT a realistic take on G.I. Joe and its never-ending battle with the terrorist organization known as Cobra. This is a cartoon. A cartoon with over the top action scenes, no explanations for giant bases hidden in Egypt and under the polar ice-cap, kick ass villains and heroes stabbing and shooting the tar out of each other with the soundtrack kicked up a few decibels louder than it needs to be... only with real actors instead of painted pictures.
When I took a step back and thought about what I had just seen it occurred to me what director Stephen Sommers (of The Mummy and The Mummy Returns... There never was a Van Helsing) actually did with the material: he recreated the feel of one of the G.I. Joe mini-series of days gone by. There's two sides to the battle (one good, one evil — in this case Destro's MARS weapons firm and G.I. Joe); there's a super weapon that could cause global destruction or anarchy if activated (in this case the useful-in-many-different-ways NANObots); there's globe-trotting adventures wherein the Joes try to stop the bad guys from stealing something or setting their plans in motion; and then there's a big showdown at the enemy's super-secret, super high-tech, heavily-guarded base where the good guys give it their all to stop the final threat to mankind... Sommers actually made a live action G.I. Joe cartoon. Unbe-fuckin-lievable.
Personally, I would have gone for something a little more serious and a little more realistic, but I have to admit that it's G.I. FUCKING-JOE. Sitting in the theater I quickly forgot all my initial fears and hopes for a more sensible flick; while watching it all I could think was "Cool! Zartan! Baroness should have bigger tits, but she's hot... Destro rocking the Scottish twang! Snake Eyes IS AWESOME! Fuck me, Storm Shadow ain't half bad either! Holy FUCK, the PIT! Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow kids are fucking brutal to each other! That kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun actually has a decent Cobra Commander voice. Wait, did that Night Raven just flew 1/4 around the world in 18 minutes? Is Mach 6 really that fast? Oh fuck yes! Zartan rules in the end! I am so ready for G.I. Joe 2!" It ain't Schindler's List, but it sure beats the hell out of all the garbage we had to put up with this summer. And dammit, I want to see it again.... And then go out to Toys R Us and buy me some toys.
Now I've got a long list of things that this movie did right and wrong. I'll talk about the things it did right first, because the wrong catalog is a lot more obvious and it can wait.
What G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra did RIGHT
What G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra did WRONG
Other than that, I think the only other thing to talk about is all the lies and made up rumors that some fired studio lackey started letting loose in internet land just a few months before The Rise of Cobra came out in theaters. The mainstream media was having a field day with the purported news that Sommers was fired from the production after a disastrous test screening of the film ("the lowest in Paramount's history"), and that studio heads were rushing around trying to find some editing genius who could cut together something that could give them at least SOME of their investment back.
Well, those rumors were denied up and down by everybody still on the project, but the damage was done. Along with some of the SHITTIEST TV ADS EVER MADE (featuring the HIGH-larious comedy stylings of Marlon Wayans as the "wacky black guy," and a terrible 30-seconds of an ear-bleedingly bad Kid Rock song), Paramount decided not to screen their Joe opus for critics (well, this decision was pretty much based solely on the fact that critics tore the shit out of the very deserving Bayformers 2, and the studio was afraid that yet another toy-movie would receive the same treatment, even if it wasn't half as bad, or to be honest, 1/1,000th as shitty). This caused some bad press, and I just wonder what this production COULD have done on its opening weekend if they had simply taken my advice and made some awesome viral ads, shades of the old Public Service Announcements ("Knowing is half the battle," and all that), only with the live action actors and actresses... Fuck, throw in a "porkchop sandwiches!" or a "Hey, kid. I'm a computer!" and they would have had the fanboys eating out of their hands from the start! Holy fuck! Imagine if they just made some live action PSAs featuring the Fensler Films' lines from the beginning! "Give 'im the stick... DON'T give 'im the stick!" *Sigh*... Maybe they'll wise up if we ever get a G.I. Joe 2. And maybe the Baroness'll get nekkid.
I haven't seen it, and I probably won't see it since Lady Jaye isn't in it, but THIS video is the greatest GI Joe thing ever made.
Brilliant idea, Hollywood. Take a 25-year-old toy and make a $170million movie around it. Ugh, I know that this philosophy actually paid off with Michael Bay's Transformers, but that doesn't make it right. Toy movies are stupid and pathetic. They're just a sign that writers have NO ideas left. They're tapped out, and they seem to be proud of that fact by hyping these pieces of filth up on the general public during the prime summer months, expecting, and usually receiving, an ass-ton of cash for below sub-quality work.
And even though I've been pushing for a Jem and the Holograms live action movie for years... Well that's different. That could be like a rock concert movie to show young girls today that woman can accomplish anything if they try! Boy toys are stupid, but Jem would be very outrageous. Truly, truly, truly outrageous.