Movie Review: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (*sigh*)

Rating: D

I  had been warned.  G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is not a great film.

Terrible?  Maybe (Rotten Tomatoes is tracking it at 38%).  But certainly not great.

But here’s the thing.  In addition to being a “vote with my dollars” type of guy, I like to “judge for myself.”

So, I went this morning and did that.

The verdict?  The performances were good.  The action sequences were good.  The movie as a whole was OK.  I’d probably rate it at a C in terms of being a “summer big budget blockbuster action movie”

But here’s the thing, the name on the marquee says, “G.I. Joe” and as a G.I. Joe film I would rank it as an F (for #fail).

To take a step back for a moment, let’s acknowledge that adaptations are a tricky thing.

Comic book writers talk about separating what is considered “cannon” and what are those things that you can alter and/or adapt.

A good example is Batman.

  • Cannon: Batman’s parents are killed in front of him as a child.
  • Cannon: Batman does not kill.
  • Cannon: He wears a costume with a cape.

Those and a few other things are unalterable.  They’re not up for discussion.  Which is why when you watch Batman Beginsthe Nolan Brothers and David Goyer manage to keep the cannon but also introduce altered elements (such as Ra’s  Al Ghul being his sensei / teacher) and together it all works.  It blends seamlessly.  It’s also why most Batman fans (myself included) trust and love the hell out of those guys.

So, that said, it was somewhat encouraging when I read the IMDB trivia for G.I. Joe and it’s littered with references about how they looked to the comic book as source material and even hired writer Larry Hama as a creative consultant.

But here’s the thing.  I read the comic book from issue 1 well into the 100’s (and Special Missions Force and the Yearbooks as well as watching the television show, of course) and I had to look extremely hard to find any “comic book logic” in this film.

This was less of a G.i. Joe film and more of a “generic action movie” that traded on the reputation and name of G.I. Joe.

I don’t want to sound like Comic Book Guy, but I have to point out how far off the page the screenwriters went on this movie.  So far off, that it’s not a G.I. Joe film.  Just saying “…knowing is half the battle.” doesn’t cut it.

Here’s a brief rundown:

  • Cannon: Snake-Eyes and Scarlett are a couple.  Period.
  • Cannon: Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow were in the same platoon in Vietnam (or any war for that matter).  They were not orphans at a monastery so that the filmmakers could have a poor excuse to put a scene in the film with kids in it.
  • Cannon: Duke is a Master Sergeant (E8 rating according to his file card) and is the leader of missions in the field.  He’s not the rookie.  And speaking of which, Heavy Duty is an E5, not a mission leader.
  • Cannon: Ripcord is a HALO paratrooper.  He’s not a “skilled marksman and pilot.”  I have no problem with changing the ethnicity (or gender) of characters when it’s the right fit.  Kingpin in the Daredevil movie.  Starbuck on BSG.  I’m fine with Marlon Wayans playing the character, but I have four questions: 1) Ripcord was never that funny in the comic (or the television series), so why him? (he’d have made a great Shipwreck to be honest)  2) why not Flint?  3) why not Stalker (and then you have a link to Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow since they were in the same platoon in Vietnam)?  And even more basic then that, 4) what is a guy named “Ripcord” who is a qualified HALO jumper doing in a land-based platoon?
  • Cannon: Cover Girl is not a glorified Star Trek secretary asking for Hawk’s signature.  She’s an armory specialist who drives a Wolverine missle tank.  She trained at Ft. Knox for goodness sake.  Give her some f’ing dignity.
  • Cannon: The Baroness is not **shudder** Duke’s ex-fiance.  Seriously.  Really?  I think I just threw up in my mouth.

I could go on.  But I won’t bore you.

What I will say is this: it is evident by one single fact that I am about to present that the filmmakers had no intention of making a “G.I. Joe” movie and they were just simply making “a generic action movie” while trading on nostalgia from people such as myself to put butts in seats on opening weekend.

G.I. Joe is made up of mission specialists who have advanced knowledge and skills that are brought in when the situation requires it.

So, if you’re fighting in the Arctic Circle, you’d call in a guy like Snow Job.  Or if you were fighting underwater, you’d get Deep Six and Torpedo (and maybe even Shipwreck).

The whole point of G.I. Joe is that you have mission specialists and they show up at times like this.  So where were any of those mission specialists in this movie?  Seriously!

OK, there was one but let’s be real – I don’t mind having cameos, but if you’re going to have someone train Joes, why not get the real deal, Sgt. Slaughter, and let your buddy do a cameo someplace else.

But here’s the thing.  If you’re going to call the movie “G.I. Joe,” then you have to shoulder the burden of the source material and stay loyal to at least some of the cannon.  If you’re going to make a “generic action movie,” that’s fine.  Just don’t call it G.I. Joe to cash in on name recognition and nostalgia.  Step up.

The sad thing is, this Funny or Die video (The Ballad of G.i. Joe) has more integrity to the source material then the movie did.

Oh and PS, if you’re gonna swipe the gag from Firefox, at least get it right.  It was the whole thing that required the thing.

had been warned.  G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is not a great film.
Terrible?  Maybe.  But certainly not great.
But here’s the thing.  In addition to being a “vote with my dollars” type of guy, I’m like to “judge for myself.”
So, I went this morning and did that.
The verdict?  The performances were good.  The action sequences were good.  The movie as a whole was OK.  I’d probably rate it at a C in terms of being a “summer big budget blockbuster action movie”
But here’s the thing, the name on the marquee says, “G.I. Joe” and as a G.I. Joe film I would rank it as an F (for #fail).
To take a step back for a moment, let’s acknowledge that adaptations are a tricky thing.
Comic book writers talk about separating what is considered “cannon” and what are those things that you can alter and/or adapt.
A good example is Batman.  Batman’s parents are killed in front of him as a child.  Cannon.  Batman does not kill.  Cannon.  He wears a costume with a cape.  Cannon.  Which is why when you watch Batman Begins by the Nolan Brothers and David Goyer, they manage to keep the cannon but also introduce altered elements (such as Ra’s  Al Ghul being his sensei / teacher) and together it all works.
Which is why it was somewhat encouraging when you read the IMDB trivia for G.I. Joe and it’s littered with references about how they looked to the comic book as source material and even hired writer Larry Hama as a creative consultant.
But here’s the thing.  I read the comic book from issue 1 well into 100 (and Special Missions Force and the Yearbooks) and I had to look extremely hard to find any “comic book logic” in this film.
This was less of a G.i. Joe film and more of a “generic action movie” that traded on the reputation and name of G.I. Joe.
I don’t want to sound like Comic Book Guy, but I have to point out how far off the page the screenwriters went on this movie.  So far off, that it’s not a G.I. Joe.  Just saying “…knowing is half the battle.” doesn’t cut it.
Cannon: Snake-Eyes and Scarlett are a couple.  Period.
Cannon: Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow were in the same platoon in Vietnam (or any war for that matter).  They were not orphans at a monastery so that the filmmakers could have a poor excuse to put a scene in the film with kids in it.
Cannon: Duke is a Master Sergeant (E8 rating according to his file card) and is the leader of missions in the field.  He’s not the rookie.  And speaking of which, Heavy Duty is an E5, not a mission leader.
Cannon: Ripcord is a paratrooper.  He’s not a “skilled marksman and pilot.”  I have no problem with changing the ethnicity (or gender) of characters when it’s the right fit.  Kingpin in the Daredevil movie.  Starbuck on BSG.  But I have three questions: 1) why not Flint?  2) why not Stalker (and then you have a link to Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow)?  And even more basic then that, 3) what is a guy named “Ripcord” doing in a land-based platoon?
Cannon: Cover Girl is not a glorified Star Trek secretary asking for Hawk’s signature.  She’s an armory specialist who drives a Wolverine missle tank.  She trained at Ft. Knox for goodness sake.  Give her some f’ing dignity.
Cannon: The Baroness is not **shudder** Duke’s ex-fiance.  Seriously.  Really?
I could go on.  But I won’t bore you.
What I will say is this: it is evident by one single fact that I am about to present that the filmmakers had no intention of making a “G.I. Joe” movie (and were just simply making “a generic action movie”).
G.I. Joe is made up of mission specialists who have advanced knowledge and skills that are brought in when the situation requires it.
So, if you’re fighting in the Arctic Circle, you’d call in a guy like Snow Job.  Or if you were fighting underwater, you’d get Deep Six and Torpedo (and maybe even Shipwreck).
The whole point of G.I. Joe is that you have mission specialists and they show up at times like this.  So where were any of those mission specialists in this movie?  One.  I would have settled for one!
Nope.  Not a single one.  Scarlett provided first-aid to Ripcord (Doc).  Heavy Duty gave the briefing on the accelerator suits (don’t even get me started on those stupid things).
OK, there was one but let’s be real – I don’t mind having cameos, but if you’re going to have someone train Joes, why not get the real deal; Sgt. Slaughter.
But here’s the thing.  If you’re going to call the movie “G.I. Joe,” then you have to shoulder the burden of the source material and stay loyal to at least some of the cannon.  If you’re going to make a “generic action movie,” that’s fine.  Just don’t call it G.I. Joe to cash in on name recognition.  Step up.
The sad thing is, this Funny or Die video (The Ballad of G.i. Joe) has more integrity to the source material then the movie did.  http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/076041c13b/the-ballad-of-g-i-joe
Oh and PS, if you’re gonna swipe the gag from Firefox, at least get it right.  It was the whole thing that required the thing.  Not just the one.
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One Response to “Movie Review: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (*sigh*)”

  1. The Day I Tried To Start The Meme #nerdfight « Noah Kuttler’s Blog Says:

    […] Day I Tried To Start The Meme #nerdfight By Noah Kuttler In my review of G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra, I talked about the concept of “cannon” and how with fictional characters there are […]

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