G. I. Joe had been an integral part of the early years of almost anyone who is above 20 years of age now. As kids, everyone had a bunch of action figures, watched the cartoons religiously and debated long and hard as to who would win in a fight between Duke and Flint (who cares if they’re on the same side?), or Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow.
The new film, G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra, takes us to the beginning of the Joe vs Cobra saga, weaving the story of how the two factions came to be and started a bitter rivalry that would eventually go on for ages (without any of the characters showing any signs of aging themselves, of course).
Storm Shadow, Baroness, Destro and The Doctor
The evil McCullen, chief of the major arms manufacturer M.A.R.S., has created a new nanobot-based weapon that spreads like a virus and can physically tear apart an entire city within hours. Of course, he wants to use this to take over the world. At his side is his trusty mad scientist, simply called ‘The Doctor’, who injects the nanobots in humans to make them completely obedient to his commands, creating an army of zombies. Others in the M.A.R.S. camp, which will later go on to become the Cobra camp, include the Baroness, Storm Shadow, Zartan and a whole lot of braindead agents.
Out to stop him are the G. I. Joes – a covert team of premium soldiers gathered from across the world (but centred in the USA, of course), where you expect every guy to be like the one in Men In Black who shouts “We’re looking for the best of the best of the best, sir!” Well, every guy except the protagonists, naturally, since they have to be cooler than the rest. The Joe team has the usual lot of favourite characters making an appearance, including Hawk, Duke, Scarlett, Ripcord, Snake Eyes, Heavy Duty and Breaker.
Snake Eyes, Scarlett and Breaker
Making a movie out of a franchise that has such a huge following and long history can be tricky. You have to be respectful of where it came from, while still grabbing the big bucks at the box office to spawn sequel upon sequel. There will always be two kinds of viewers for a G. I. Joe movie: the ardent fan who knows the Arashikage clan as well as he knows the name of Shipwreck’s parrot; and the average Joe (sorry, couldn’t resist) who has just gone to the cinema for a good action flick. Director Stephen Sommers has managed to delight the latter, but the former would be fuming by the end of the movie. Figure out which of the two categories of movie-goers you fall into and only then should you decide whether to give this one a chance or not.
WATCHED AS AN AVERAGE JOE
If Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen was a masterful thesis on the subject of ‘How to create a summer blockbuster’, this one is a research paper on ‘Simple formulae for a popular action flick’. G.I.Joe is not going to blow you away, but you won’t come out disappointed if all you wanted was some mindless carnage with a few cool special effects.
The movie has every single cliché that you could think of, but it’s still pulled off as well as a film of this sort is supposed to have. The marriage of spandex with Sienna Miller is bound to please every red-blooded male in the audience, as would the laser-shooting guns and super-armoury of the Joes.
The movie seems to be made just for the long action sequence in Paris
The introduction of exoskeletons for the Joes was a great idea, as it allows Sommers to run wild with an incredible action sequence in Paris. If you have played games like Prototype and Crackdown and want to know how they would look in a movie, this is where you can see it.
Needless to say, in a movie like this, you don’t ask questions like “But why couldn’t Snake Eyes have done something there, why was he just standing around?” Nor should you question why the top scientist at a secret base conducting illegal experiments for one of the world’s biggest arms manufacturers is using Norton Internet Security to protect his data. Sigh.
Hahahahaha! Evil genius scientist uses Norton!
Sommers has deviated heavily from the history of the normal G.I. Joe franchise, but looked at from the perspective of a movie-goer who does not care about that, the storyline is plain enough to please.
At no point should you expect a riveting dialogue or true wit – this is a ‘leave your brains at home’ action movie, and as long as you treat it as such, you will come out of the cinema hall with your sanity intact and enriched by the long shots of the spandex-clad Sienna Miller.
Eat your heart out, Megan Fox!
WATCHED AS A G.I. JOE FAN
For fans of the G.I. Joe franchise and any geek, the only advice would be to stay as far away from this movie as possible. Keep in mind that exposing yourself to this blasphemous representation of everything that you loved is going to destroy all the sweet memories of your wonder years. This is not a trip down memory lane; it’s more a nightmare on Elm Street.
Fun fact #1 – Cobra Commander’s identity has been revealed, and given a wonderful back story that ties in with some leading G.I. Joe characters. And no, it’s not Snake Eyes as depicted in the comics. More importantly, his identity has been revealed!
Fun fact #2 – The Baroness and Duke were in love and engaged to be married before she decided to wreak havoc on the world by joining Destro. Nope, no revenge stories about Snake Eyes here either.
Snake Eyes has lips!
Fun fact #3 – Snake Eyes, in fact, grew up with the Arashikage clan, and Storm Shadow really killed their master. Nope, there are no shades of grey about Storm Shadow’s character, no involvement of Zartan; just a simple story of young Storm Shadow being jealous of young Snake Eyes.
The movie is full of such strange and unnecessary deviations from what it is a great background story created in the comics. The relegation of Snake Eyes to a fringe character from his clear prominence as the protagonist in the actual G. I. Joe franchise will not please any fan. Oh and yes, Duke takes down Snake Eyes while sparring. Yup.
Deviations from a storyline to further the cause of a plot are usually welcome. In Spider-Man, Sam Raimi did away with the whole ‘Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker’s first girlfriend who was killed by the Green Goblin’ angle, and it worked brilliantly. Christopher Nolan changed The Joker’s origin in The Dark Knight, and made him much cooler and a lot more menacing than the books ever did – an absolute stroke of genius.
But in G.I. Joe, it seems that Sommers has just decided not to read any of the comics and come up with his own interpretation for the characters on a whim. It is not as if he couldn’t have done more with the characters or kept to their original story; it’s a conscious decision that backfires completely, creating a series of stereotypes that end up not making a single character endearing.
In the end, you will find yourself waiting patiently for the above scene, since the credits roll right after it!