Friday, August 14, 2009

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

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)
Genre: Action
Format: Theatrical Release
Director: Stephen Sommers

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was on my list of movies to avoid because after seeing the trailer, I have a feeling that it would destroy the precious memories I still have of growing up watching the cartoon series. Plans do change whether you like it or not and through some twisted act of random events, I ended up sitting in the dark theater waiting for the movie to start, all the while thinking to myself, "What the heck am I doing here?" Luckily, I was nicely rewarded for my supposed "misfortune": a) the movie was actually pretty good, and b) it ended being a really, really good evening for me.

Since this is the first live action movie featuring the Joes, of course it has to spend too much of its time on properly introducing the characters to those who are not familiar with the franchise. I think that reproducing the opening sequence to the cartoon onto the big screen should have sufficed since it would explain in a nutshell that the movie is going to show how a special military force stops an evil plan of an international terrorist group. Instead, the entire length of this movie is really a background story of how the Cobra Commander comes to be so overall, it's a major disappointment in terms of the storyline. I really hate what they did to the Baroness character in this movie as well after they have actually succeeded matching her looks perfectly to the original cartoon. I do like how the movie presents many flashbacks to tell the stories of both the good guys and the bad guys and these create an emotional resonance you don't normally get from watching a summer action flick. So the story sucks as a whole but the action - oh my, the action rocks! The movie is so fast paced, there is hardly any breather between the action set pieces. The best thing about the action is that there's a lot of really violent things happening on the screen - especially when you have a character who likes to shoot people in the face - but by removing blood from any of the decapitations, explosions, et cetera, you get yourself a PG rated movie! The chase scene that takes place in Paris is a visual extravaganza and sadly, it's so over the top that not even the explosive climax can match its visceral energy.

What can I say? Stephen Sommers knows how to make his summer blockbusters. The Rise of Cobra is the best action movie I have seen this year. It may not have the strongest narrative but the action makes up for all of its missteps. If Sommers' previous works on the first two mummies are any indications, the sequel to this should be massively epic and a lot more entertaining.

RATING: 3 out of 5

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