The feeling was similar to what I experienced when I first heard about Transformers, then Star Trek and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. Why the last, you may wonder? Well it didn't feature Rachel Weisz in the pivotal role of Evie and yes, for those who have not seen it, I thought the film sucked without my Evie in it despite having Rick and Jonathon. So for the track record, 2 out of 3 wasn't bad.
G.I. Joe: The Movie
My only requirement for the film as I went in to see it was that it needed to not suck. That's it. I kept saying over and over, please don't suck. Why, you may wonder? Because in the early 80s, I was a kid and I watched the G.I. Joe cartoon every day when I came home from school. I loved Duke, Scarlett and Snake Eyes. I even liked the later versions with Lady Jaye and the rest. But it was those early episodes with Scarlett and Snake Eyes in particular that I so remembered and identified. Sure I liked the Baroness, Destro and Cobra Commander (six feet under!) cause they were easy to identify bad guys. They didn't sugar coat what they were doing or call it for the betterment of the human race. They were terrorists, pure and simple. G.I. Joes were good, Cobra was bad.
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was directed by Stephen Sommers (The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, Van Helsing). I like the way the man directs. I think he's good at working with his actors and taking even the cheesiest moments and making them shine. Dennis Quaid is in the movie. I like him too, there's something earnest and wholesome about him. Of course, he can do crazy cheerful really well too (Undercover Blues anyone?)
The rest of the cast wasn't standout to me, at least in the previews. I know Sienna Miller, for example, but more from Hollywood gossip than her films. Rachel Nichols (she was the Orion cadet Kirk was making out with in Star Trek) and Ray Park (Darth Maul? Yeah, me too!). But one other member of the cast really, really stood out and that was Christopher Eccelston who's led a surprisingly eclectic and entertaining career with roles in Gone in Sixty Seconds, Doctor Who and even Elizabeth I. He's a consummate actor and wonderful to watch. The trailers featuring all of the above sold me on wanting to see the film. Up next, some spoilers so be warned before reading further.
It Didn't Suck
That's right, the film didn't suck. The very first scene did catch me off guard, particularly when the date of 1641 flashed on the screen. But those few moments are a nice prologue to the story, so don't let it throw you.
We're introduced to Christopher Eccelston's McCullen right off as he is doing a large presentation for NATO about his new nano critters and their amazing destructive capabilities. Of course, the reason to design the weapon was that it could destroy objects rather than people and easily stops when the kill switch is thrown. Cue the applause. In the audience, General Hawk watches ominously.
What happens next is predictable, if amusing for the routes they take in the storytelling. Standouts from the get go are the introduction of the Joes themselves when they show up to save Duke and Ripcord from the Baroness (who happens to have a history with Duke). Snake Eyes is absolutely delish.
"He doesn't talk." Breaker says.
"Why not?" Ripcord asks.
"He doesn't say." Breaker replies easily.
Amusing exchanges aside, the characters act like themselves. But Heavy Duty is played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. It took me a minute (probably longer than most because I don't watch Lost) to recognize him, but then it hit me. It was Loch-nah! Triple A there played Loch-Nah in the second Mummy film. Then Arnold Vosloo shows up, casually and easily and I was cracking up. Loved him on Chuck and as The Mummy of course. But the real surprise was waiting in the Pit when Ripcord and Duke began their training.
I'll leave that treat for you to discover on your own.
Fun, B+ Movie
Overall, I liked the pacing in the film. I liked the characters. The actors were quite fun and even when the action sequences seemed over the top, they weren't ridiculously over the top. There was a definite homage to the cartoon while trying to capture a more modern, terrifiying essence. I could have gone the rest of my life without the snake scene or the needles in the face scene -- but hey, they were cringeworthy. Those scenes will be hard on kids, I think, particularly those under the age of 10 who might be squeamish.
As for me, I give the film a solid thumbs up with an unqualified goofy grin. I liked it -- even if they did use THAT line in the film to which three-quarters of my theater's audience groaned. Yes, sir, knowing is half the battle.
Are you planning to see G.I. Joe?
Don't forget that you have until tonight to enter in the free giveaway for Sherrilyn Kenyon's Bad Moon Rising. I'll be drawing the winner's name late tonight and posting it in tomorrow's Daily Dose!