Steve Has Seen director Stephen Sommers G.I.JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA and Says It’s the Cartoon Come to Life

     July 15, 2009

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“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” is not the train wreck you’re expecting.

In fact, some of the film is quite good. While many of you won’t believe me till you see it with your own eyes on August 7th, last night I got into a research screening of director Stephen Sommers “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” at the Bridge Theater in Los Angeles and came away liking what I saw.

My one sentence: It’s the cartoon come to life.

You want more, it’s after the jump:

g.i._joe_rise_of_cobra_movie_image_adewale_akinnuoye-agbaje__christopher_eccleston__joseph_gordon-levitt.jpgWhen Paramount decided to make a “G.I. Joe” movie, you knew they could only go in one direction with Hasbro as a producing partner – make a live-action cartoon that’s designed to sell toys – and that’s exactly what they did. Instead of trying to explain a convoluted plot and give a back-story to every character, the film jumps right into the action and never slows down till the end credits.

Also, the film has plenty of high-tech weaponry, vehicles, and gadgets that kids and the die-hard fans will love. How does a Joe jetpack work? It just does. How do the futuristic weapons work? They just do. How did the accelerator suit get developed and how does it work? Stop asking questions and just go with it. As I said, a cartoon come to life.

Since Paramount might not be too happy with a review of a research screening, here are some random thoughts on the film in no particular order. Also, I like bullet points so…

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— The action scenes are really well done and there are a lot of them. While some expensive action films make it impossible to follow what’s going on, “G.I. Joe” is easy to follow. I never lost track of who was where or what they were doing. This is in stark contrast to a film like “Quantum of Solace” which was all over the place. That opening car chase looked like it was shot and edited by Stevie Wonder. By contrast, you always know what’s happening in “G.I. Joe”

— The movie is cheesy but fun. Yeah, the dialogue is corny and everyone was either a good or a bad guy, but that’s the cartoon. Also, it never went for the really cheap joke or any bathroom humor. Sorry Bay, but you could learn from Stephen Sommers on this one.

— The pacing is spot on. With the film clocking in around 1 hr. 45 minutes or so, you’re never far removed from an action scene.G.I. Joe The Rise of Cobra movie image (3).jpg

— The plot actually works and makes sense…for a “G.I. Joe” movie. Unlike “Transformers 2″, “Joe’s” got a clear story. The bad guys want to destroy certain cities/important monuments/take over the world and the good guys are trying to stop them. That’s it.

— Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow stuff will make the fans very happy. Not only do you get a great battle between them in present day, you learn how they met and see a solid fight between them as kids. How many summer blockbusters are there with kids beating the shit out of each other? Also, Snake Eyes is just cool and Ray Park does some great stuff in the movie.

— CGI is great in parts and other times…um…not so good. I wonder when people are going to finally realize that putting a CGI aircraft in the bright sunshine doesn’t look good.

— THE PITT (Joe’s base) is so ridiculously over the top in size and scope, it’d would cost trillions to build. Instead of trying to explain how they built the base and how it works, they took the jetpack and futuristic weapons approach: It just does.

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— “Star Wars'” has some influence on costumes and sound effects. The M.A.R.S. Troopers are nothing more than Stormtroopers. Since Hasbro knows what toys sell… Also, The McCullen underwater base was straight out of “Episode One: The Phantom Menace”. I kept waiting for Boss Nass to show up and take control.

— The movie expects you to know most of the characters. If you’ve never heard of Zartan or Breaker, you’re not going to learn any back stories here. Also, a few characters show up as very brief cameos and then they’re gone.

— The accelerator suits were well used in the movie. Many, myself included, thought they’d be overdone and/or incredibly stupid, but that isn’t the case. They were just used in the Paris action scene and provided some good moments.

G.I. Joe The Rise of Cobra movie image (4).jpg– Sienna Miller and Rachel Nichols are going to get some new fans. Not only do they have a fun girl fight, they both wear some very form fitting clothing. I’m confident some adolescent boys are about to have their first crush.

— Joseph Gordon Levitt. I won’t reveal who he plays so those that don’t know will be surprised. But I really liked his look in the film and how over the top his character was. I especially liked the voice he used.

— Ending is actually great. Minor Spoiler: highlight to read. They set up Cobra Commander, Destro and another surprise. It’s absolutely setting up a sequel. Loved the ending and wish we had gotten a bit more Cobra Commander. But, that’s for the sequel…

Overall, while “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” is not a home-run, it was definitely better than I expected and I thought it was a fun summer popcorn movie. If you’ve always wanted to see Duke, Baroness, Breaker, Heavy Duty and all the Joe characters you watched as a kid on the screen, I think you’re going to be happy. If you’re going in with an axe to grind, there is plenty to go after, but you could do that with the cartoon.

And if you want to read more people’s thoughts on the film, AICN has some reviews and Latino Review does as well. All of them are relatively positive.

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