Ok so I heard the buzz about G.I. Joe before I watched it, and opinions seemed to be mixed. This baffles me, because I thought the movie was pretty effin’ dope. Good visuals, lots of action and special effects, and it wasn’t too corny. That’s more than I can say for Transformers 2. I could even follow the plot, which I appreciated. I hate when these types of movies take themselves too seriously with the convoluted high brow storyline. Just blow shit up.
Starring Channing Tatum (Stop-Loss) as Duke and Marlon Wayans (Dance Flick) as Ripcord, the story begins with our soldiers escorting high level weaponry to its destination. The two are not members of the Joes yet, but they are military personnel. The weapons contain agents called nanocytes, little cell-like critters that were first introduced to fight cancer. They can attack metal and level a city within several minutes. They were manufactured by M.A.R.S., a private arms company helmed by McCullen, a European magnate, the last in a long line of military spies. They are ambushed en route, severely overmatched and outnumbered. Taking heavy fire, they are unable to protect the weapons from the would-be thieves, an outfit comprised of highly- skilled soldiers. Enter the Baroness, a leather-clad dominatrix-looking chick with a mean kick. She and Duke have a past, and he refers to her by name. Her lingering loyalty gives her pause, and she spares his life. Meanwhile the G.I. Joes have arrived to intercept the thieves (COBRA). They retrieve the weapons and the stage is set for Duke and Ripcord to join the most elite, covert operation comprised of the best and brightest soldiers from each branch of the military. General Hawk commands the Joes, and is impressed with Duke and Ripcord. After surviving the rigors of training, they are officially “Joes,” and their first task is to protect the weapons and avenge their fallen comrades before COBRA can steal the weapons back. In the mix is McCullen, creator of the weapons but also in league with COBRA, unbeknownst to the Joes.
As the story moves along we are introduced to various figures from the cartoon series, and I always get a kick out of the real-life depiction of an animated character. They even threw in the corny one-liners from the show like “knowing is half the battle.” It kinda worked but I had to roll my eyes when I heard it. Anyway, I have to say that from a visual standpoint, G.I. Joe was a treat. I got that same feeling I had when I saw the first X-Men or the first Spiderman: that I was witnessing something pretty damn cool. The movie didn’t make the mistake of taking itself too seriously. Nothing based on a cartoon should ever be held up as a paragon of cinematic storytelling, but it was very good movie, and if you go into it with reasonable expectations I don’t think you’ll leave disappointed. This is the second movie based on an 80’s cartoon, and I think it was certainly as good as Transformers, and even better than the sequel. There was a delicate balance between plot and action, and everything was expertly explained, whether through flashback or exposition. Particularly compelling was the back-story between Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes. They trained side-by-side as adoptive brothers until a jealous, evil act permanently tore them apart. Oh yeah, and good guys wear black and bad guys wear white in this movie. Gotta love that. Regarding the performances, as I said there was some corny dialogue but for the most part the movie was sharp throughout. Channing Tatum is a one-note actor, but again – he’s playing a cartoon character. How seriously can I take him? The movie boasts a pretty decent cast that includes Dennis Quaid as Hawk and Sienna Miller as the Baroness. They actually allowed Miller to fill out her leather pantsuit rather than adopt the waiflike appearance she’s sported in past movies, another nice touch. I get tired of looking at someone the size of Angelina Jolie and being expected to believe that she can kick someone’s ass. Both the Baroness and Scarlett looked like real women rather than toothpicks, which I appreciated. Cool toys? Check. Ass-kickin’? Check. I can’t wait for the sequel.
This article first appeard at http://poptimal.com/2009/08/g-i-joe/ and was reprinted with permission.