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

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A little too fantastical for my taste, but full of potential. Watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies led me to watching the first of the two G.I. Joe movies. The first one, this one, is the only one I have ever seen and it was released in 2009. That was the first and last time I ever watched it until now. The only thing I remembered about it now was that Channing Tatum was the lead and Joseph Gordon-Levitt was the villain that I actually didn’t know until several years later. I was much younger at the time that I first watched it and I think I enjoyed it back then but I really can’t remember. You could almost say that I was going in completely blind since it had been so long. I can’t say that I had any big expectations, but from what I’ve heard over the years, the bar was set pretty low.

First things first. This was back when Channing Tatum hadn’t quite found his footing yet for being the kind of actor we know him as now. I actually really like him and several of his films that he’s been in and he has shown that he is a very capable and skilled actor. However, this movie was at a time when he was just not great and it shows. He does alright with the little bit of script that he has available, but he isn’t quite ready for his own franchise yet. I wonder if their intention was to give him a franchise with G.I. Joe, but he also wasn’t established yet so I’m not sure.

As I said, the only other actor I really knew about other than Tatum is Gordon-Levitt who plays the main villain. It sucks that we don’t actually get to see his face except for two or three scenes because he’s a very good actor. The problem with him in this movie is that he is just your typical mustache twirling villain that seems more robotic than anything else. His motivations also don’t make much sense, but that really brings me to the fact that a lot of things don’t make sense in this movie.

All of the side characters are okay at best with nobody actually standing out except maybe Marlon Wayans who seems to be the only person that is the least qualified to actually be on the team. It’s never really explained why he’s on the team other than being Duke’s buddy, so I guess as long as you know someone you’re good. I mean I guess things like this are just nitpicks, but they all added up by the time I got to the end so I suppose they stuck out more by the end than I actually expected them to.

I know that this movie is based off of the action figures by the same name so there really isn’t much source material to go off of, but they seemed to be a bit lazy with their writing, most notably with some of the names. We have Stormshadow and SnakeEyes for example who are just named that because reasons. We never get any kind of explanation and it seems like everyone calls them by their names with a hint of sarcasm. It could have just been how I interpreted it. Even the villain names came out of nowhere with no real purpose or explanation except that you would know it if you know the action figures I guess? I’m not really sure, I just didn’t understand the references.

The action wasn’t terrible with a lot of the boots on the ground stuff being quite appealing and still holds up today. The highlights would be anytime Snake Eyes is fighting or during the Paris scene when Duke and Ripcord have those Exo suits on. Despite the complete lack of care for civilians, the scene was actually a lot of fun and enjoyable. Snake Eyes in all of his scenes gives us just that fun hand to hand action, especially in his last fight against Stormshadow. All of the bigger scenes that involved more jets or submarines or just the whole big underwater end battle seemed a bit dated and didn’t look quite as good as I was hoping.

Surprisingly though Stormshadow and Snake Eyes’ backstory was more interesting than anything else in this movie. That brings me to the actual story going on in this movie. The villain plan with the nanomites being stolen and then retrieved by the guy that sold them is all bland and typical, but I look past that to see what we actually get with character development. There is development but this movie just lacks any kind of real depth. I know that the focus may be towards a younger audience, but at times it feels way too childish for the skin it has on.

The motivations and plot points for everything going on are so simple and basic that they really don’t hold up at all. It’s a problem that really holds this movie back because they have potential with the source material. I say source material, but I mean more with what they had setup rather than what they actually executed on. It was all still enjoyable on a surface level, but it was more basic than your typical kind of basic action movie. It’s just incredibly forgettable and didn’t age very well because of their bland story choices and occasional shoddy CGI.

This movie doesn’t hold up, but it has so much potential with everything they set up. This could have been a mega hit with Channing Tatum except that they were a few years too early with him. They needed to focus more on making it a somewhat more grounded kind of movie rather than one that seems like it’s more fantastical. It actually feels more like someone made a movie of them playing with the toys in their room. I know it might work for some things, but this movie really would have served better being a more grounded action war movie, but it chooses to be more childish and cartoony. It just doesn’t work with the kind of movie it is.

I guess if you like G.I.Joe then you should go ahead and give this movie a shot, but at the same time I don’t think anyone will really want to waste their time watching it. I’ve heard better things about the sequel, especially since it’s considered a soft reboot, so maybe that would be a better movie to watch, but we’ll see when I review it. See this movie if you’re interested, otherwise just skip it entirely.

If you have seen this movie then comment below or send an email to TowerCityMedia@gmail.com and follow us @TowerCityMedia

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