Thursday, August 13, 2009

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra

The first thing you need to know about GI Joe is that it is stupid. The second thing you need to know about GI Joe is that it is amazingly entertaining.

Before I got into the rhythm of the movie, it made me roll my eyes with its contrived plot, cliched dialogue and style over substance gadgetry, but then it broke through to the part of my brain that appreciates silly, violence and sexy.

It's mainly explosion- and car chase-porn, but like real porn (so I'm told), there is a place for it. The whole plot revolves around the bad guys getting their hands on some McGuffin missiles and doing untold mischief, so the good guys have to wreck Paris and the North Pole to save the day. It's set in the future so we have to cut the plot some slack but it's a joke anyway and the dialogue sounded like it was written with a "Wheel of Cliche." The car chases aren't always with cars - they use motorcycles, snowmobiles, personal submarines and Michelin Man suits.

What really made me lower my normal standards was early on. The bad guy's commandos did fierce battle with the good commandos. The bad guys had all kinds of high tech weaponry and the good guys had today-conventional weapons. Why would the bad guys need to steal missiles if they have invulnerable helicopters, impenetrable body armor and a hand-held pulse gun that makes all other weapons irrelevant? It was like a neon sign saying "Check your brain at the door. Nothing in this movie will make sense." I checked my brain and had a really nice time.

Some of the finer points:

The femme fatale wore a vinyl catsuit that looked like she stole it from Trinity in The Matrix. And no matter what she wore, no matter what bad-ass thing she was doing, her outfits were always open down to her mid-chest level.

One of the GIs Joe was played by Channing Tatum, who you might recognize upon viewing if you don't recognize the name. He was in one of my guilty pleasures, She's the Man, which I reviewed in 2006. In both movies he plays a character named Duke, which is trivially notable all by itself. However, in GI Joe, the 28 year-old Tatum plays a mid-30s Army captain. Three years ago, he played a high school senior in She's the Man. I thought he looked a little old then, but I went with it. Now that I've seen him as an adult - looking the same - I hope I can still suspend disbelief enough to continue enjoying She's the Man.

The bad guys want to launch a stinger-type missile at the Eiffel tower, so naturally they leave a building with a perfectly good view of the tower and basically destroy the city of Paris rue by rue in order to launch the missile from the building next door to the tower. Hmm. Wouldn't it be easier to launch from where they started without getting stuck in rush hour traffic?  It's a missile after all.

The President of the United States was played by a Welshman. Jonathan Pryce is good, but couldn't they have gotten Denzel to do a cameo?

The plot has - no spoilers here - a villain that built the McGuffin missiles needing to steal the missiles. Huh? He couldn't have made his own by running an extra shift or building a second factory? Did he learn nothing from Contact?

Towards the end, a good guy has a high-tech plane. He needs to get from Moscow to Washington in order to destroy a launched missile. He has 14 minutes. He makes it. I'll save you from doing the math - his plane flies faster than escape velocity. In the atmosphere. Without burning up or causing enough sonic booms to level all of Europe. Oh, am I being too logical again? Sorry.

I'll leave you with this one. The villain's lair is underneath the Arctic polar ice cap. Who are they kidding? When in the future will there be a polar ice cap?

I pick a lot but I did enjoy GI Joe. It's fun rolling ones eyes and laughing at inadvertently funny scenes, but like I all-too-often say about sci-fi shows, it could have been so much more with only a little bit of effort. Alas.

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