G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)

r2A52M3I’ve had a rocky relationship with the GI Joe franchise from the start. As a kid I loved the action figures but I didn’t care too much for the eighties cartoon. I mean let’s face it, only Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow were really cool. The rest were pretty interchangeable characters. And then the comics came along changing my mind on the property further convincing me to enjoy the mythos with the Devil’s Due Publishing comic series that were mature, tense, and action packed. With Stephen Sommers aboard I obviously didn’t expect an adaptation of the modern series and instead just expected dumb fun. Well, dumb fun is what I got and I was pleased as punch once the end credits began to roll.

“The Rise of Cobra” is a fast paced summer blockbuster that you can’t expect too much from.  There’s no political commentary, no actual drama, and it’s often not taken too seriously; instead there’s the usual brand of Sommers escapism that instantly pushes “Van Helsing” in to the background as somewhat of a hazy memory best forgotten. I didn’t think it was possible to pull off a good “GI Joe” movie but Sommers proves me wrong by sticking mainly to the lore and remaining loyal to most of the material presented. Snake Eyes is still a mute ninja whose blood rival Storm Shadow, Scarlett is still the smoking red head, and Duke is the second in command for the Joe unit. But while Sommers mainly sticks to the formula, he is also never afraid to treat the story with his own touch of a comedic edge all of which is dominated by Marlon Wayans who is very likable as the character Ripcord.

What the trailers don’t tell you is that the movie mainly chronicles the rise of both GI Joe and Cobra, so technically the entire ride is mainly nothing more than a prequel of a sorts that leaves the door open for a promising sequel that can hopefully delve deeper in to both organizations and churn out more signature characters from the comics. Me thinks Sommers and Paramount are preparing to launch the film property as a three part epic concerning both Joe’s rising ranks and Cobras strangle hold on the world. While I’ll be the first to proclaim my distaste for Sommers, his vision of GI Joe is a lot of fun and pushes for some truly good chase scenes that take place in the air, land and sea. One of the bigger accomplishments is Sommers portrayal of the most popular character Snake Eyes who is portrayed with fierce loyalty from his black body suit right down to his visors; and thanks to Ray Park’s dynamic performance,

Snake Eyes becomes the highlight of the whole shebang while the cast including Channing Tatum, Rachel Nichols and Sienna Miller respectively provide strong portrayals of their beloved characters. “GI Joe” is that summer movie that is basically for anyone from kids being introduced to the story to adults who just want to see their childhood memories from the eighties come to life on the big screen. For this eighties kid it was a trip back to a time where GI Joe reigned supreme and now it’s accomplishing that for a new generation. I look forward to the eventual sequel. “GI Joe” originally started as an animated series to sell the toys that were already in stores and “The Rise of Cobra” makes no exceptions here. The gear and devices here are present mainly to sell toys. From the Accelerator suits to the tricked up jeep our villains ride in, “The Rise of Cobra” makes it blatantly clear that these concepts were strictly there to sell toys and provide nothing more than toyetic gimmicks. Beyond that there’s none of the espionage or intrigue present in most of the modern series’.

Sommers and co. completely side step the opportunity and instead keep the characters light and dense with most of the back story almost totally ignored. Why did we need random flashbacks of Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow? Why did we need a love triangle between Storm Shadow, Baroness and Duke? And mostly, what was the point of the accelerator suits when Heavy Duty and Breaker basically had their trucks to chase down the villains? And why don’t we ever see the suits again? Nevertheless while Sommers and co. do remain true to most of the characters, there is the disappointing portrayal of Cobra Commander who looks and acts nothing like the comics and animated series portrays him as. Regardless of the appearance by Joseph Gordon Levitt, it’s pretty clear that Cobra Commander was a pretty big flop on screen. While it isn’t a perfect summer blockbuster it’s a lot better than sitting through “Transformers 2” again. “GI Joe” is one of the better blockbusters of the summer and packs in enough action, comedy, and adventure to keep audiences eyes glued to the big screen. I had a hell of a good time, and you will too.