Yesterday I reviewed a film that, while not terrible, was just a shameless cash in on an established franchise. Today I review G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra which a far more shameless and quite often lazily produced attempt to cash in on a toy line the average parent these days will remember with fond memories from their youth. Of course I’m talking about the Action Force toys. Because fuck G.I. Joe. Action Force’s theme tune was far cooler. Click on the link for the review… and the Action Force theme.
I dare you to tell me the US theme tune was better than that.
G.I. Joe was known as Action Force outside the US which is a far more international sounding name considering the series is about an international counter terrorist group. OK, so most of it’s members were American, but they still went around doing world police type stuff. Anyway, the movie is about two US Army soldiers, Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans), who find themselves dragged into an international terrorist plot involving herp de derp de herp and lots of blah de blah. Also farting noises. Basically they have to stop Doctor Who and the kid from 3rd Rock From The Sun from destroying landmarks whilst also training to become members of the totally not US centric team named G.I. Joe.
The plot really means nothing. It is just a series of things happening to put our characters in places where big attract shots for the trailers can be staged. Most of which come from a central action sequence set in Paris. There is a load of clumsily, shoe-horned in, sub-plots that are largely told by the lazy story tellers favourite crutch, the flashback. And boy is there a lot of them. Just of the top of my head I believe there was 6. That’s not counting a few moments of memories of a forgotten past (Lazy writer’s crutch No.2 Memory loss) flickering on the screen too. They even do that lazy close up on the characters face whilst in deep thought shot at the start of EVERY flashback. Every single one. Just a tip to any budding young screenwriters that may have stumbled onto this blog whilst searching for scat films, if your film has more than 1 flashback your story is falling apart and you need to stop.
See the problem with flashbacks is that they’re time wasted. If you can’t give your audience the information they need before they reach the point that it is needed in a natural manner then all you’re doing is filling them with exposition. By halfway through the film we should know your characters past and their relationships to each other. Ideally this should be in the bag by the end of act one. If you still haven’t told your audience that two side characters have a past that only informs you of their current state rather than reveal an element intrinsic to the progression of the story then you haven’t told their story well enough and are now wasting time. The film starts with a flashback. A flashback to 17th century France where we see a distant relative of villain McCullen (Christopher Eccleston) get a iron mask put on his face for selling weapons to both sides of a pair of warring armies. Later we see this prop and McCullen explains what happened and that he learned the same lessons that all toddlers learn when they do wrong. Don’t get caught. What did we learn from him explaining this halfway through the film? Nothing, because we know already. It was in that flashback at the start. 99% of the films audience should have the ability to remember that scene. At the same time it also renders the first scene pointless because telling the audience about it later managed to get the exact same point across. Yes you want to start your film with a scene that gets the audience involved, but how about one that isn’t undermined by a few lines of dialogue later on.
The story is mishandled every step of the way and is full of the hallmarks of a lazy writer (three of them apparently) that just point towards this film being one massive cash grab for all those involved. It’s not just the story that’s lazy. Every inch of the film’s production reeks of corner cutting and pointless effects shots. There’s so many scenes where the background is computer generated, especially in the Joe’s base, The Pit. The only reason they did this was to avoid making a large, actual real life set. Even a simple dock area is CGI. It’s not even that they had a moderate sized set and then added in the digital background to make it larger. They seemed to have a small floor area with a couple of walls and then called it a day. What also doesn’t help is that the CGI is straight out of the 1990’s. Not a single digital effect in this film approaches reality. The central stunt sequence in Paris is full of digital cars. Our main leads are running around in these accelerated armour suits that I’m actually convinced only exist so they wouldn’t have to film actors running down a street or have an elaborate sequence where they leap between cars. Because that would have required clearance and stunt teams and planning. Why do all that when you can just film a handful of cars driving down a street and CGI in the rest in post? Lazy ass shit (did I mention the film was lazy).
The whole film feels like a toy advert, which it is admittedly. This isn’t a new concept at all but at least try to make a film that resembles a film with an actual story and reason to exist other than to sell toys. Even the third transformers film had some semblance of a plot and character arcs. This has Duke not knowing why his ex girlfriend has gone all evil. Except she remembers, but she doesn’t remember him, but she does right from the start but for some reason can’t. Basically they turn Baroness into a good guy by the end. Also, that Rise Of Cobra the title promise kind of means nothing because (BTW spoilers) what we really get is a CGI metal face and a guy wearing what appears to be a half melted but quite fabulous ski mask who both end up in a novelty prison before they even get to hatch a new scheme as Cobra.
This film is turd. It’s like they came up with shots they wanted to see in a trailer and then cobbled a film together around that. It is one head slappingly, badly thought out sequence after another with a lack of basic storytelling skill or any reason to get engaged in any of the characters. Director Stephen Sommers has always been a bit of a hack but at least a couple of his films are somewhat enjoyable. The Mummy for example is quite a fun adventure film. G.I. Joe feels like a cynical attempt to make an action film without even trying to give any potential viewer any value for money. I know it’s meant to be cheesey and a little camp but it at least could try to be well made and a little bit enjoyable. There’s a sequel in production right now and it looks like money is being spent to make sure it has big star name appeal to hopefully drag a few people in to see it despite how much they likely hated this film. It’s being directed by Jon M Chu who has directed nothing but dance movies and that Justin Beiber concert movie. So yeah… I’m gonna guess that it’ll blow an equal amount of balls right here. Don’t watch this. Watch the animated movie or the hour long animated mini series that came out around the same time. they’re both leagues better. In summary… lazy… and shit… and ass.