Monday, August 10, 2009

Yo Schmoe

Frankly, I was shocked that it took this long to make a G.I. Joe movie. I figured that in the wake of 9/11, a movie about an elite counterterrorist unit would have gotten the greenlight within 3 months and be out in time for summer 2002. Sadly, the movie which is out now was not worth the seven year wait.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that G.I.Joe: The Rise of Cobra is, as my buddy Tom Foss pointed out, a "flaming piece of crap-gilded crap." I knew it was going to be awful the moment I saw that Snake-Eyes had Schumacher-esque foam rubber lips molded onto his mask, and my beliefs were confirmed with each additional trailer I saw. I said I would never see this movie, but I was dragged along anyway, and even with a free ticket I still feel I paid too high a price.

No, I'm not going to review the movie. Tom did an excellent job of that above, and it's currently hovering at the 40% mark at Rotten Tomatoes. The last time I checked, the profits had dropped by 18% between Friday and Saturday, so it seems pretty likely that word of mouth is spreading about its awfulness. Instead, I'm going to quote myself from earlier posts, because they are relevant:
  • "This is the Hollywood machine, people; its entire purpose in life is to take a giant stinking shit on beloved memories in an attempt to wring cash from your pockets." -- 7/05/07
  • "There is a practice in Hollywood whereby films that are expected to do poorly -- usually cheap horror films and teen comedies -- are not sent to film critics to review. This is done so that the films can at least reap the benefits of opening weekend receipts before poor critical review and word of mouth can do any damage." -- 6/10/08
  • "Neener." -- 5/05/09

At first pass, you'd think that the concept of G.I. Joe is too simple to screw up: a team of uber-elite soldiers uses bleeding-edge weapons to fight a terrorist threat. It's Men in Black, only without the aliens. How hard could it be to get right?

Then you think of the 80s cartoon with the red laser vs. blue laser battles, and you realize that when studios pander to the lowest common denominator, you get utter crap.

(Yes, I realize the G.I. Joe cartoon was meant for kids and therefore mass bloodshed was inappropriate. So was Gargoyles, but it was excellent, and it was produced by Disney of all things. "Appropriate for children" does not have to equal "stupid." It's just usually easier to produce that way.)

So this movie is basically a live-action cartoon. The stupid mid-80s cartoon where enlisted personnel could fly F-14s, everyone had lasers and parachutes, and basic science was ignored in the name of cool. I mean, ice floats on top of water, right? Rise of Cobra gets this fact wrong.

So if you have a hankering to watch some G.I. Joe without having your brains ooze out your ears (or scream in poisonous outrage at the screen, as I did) then I have two recommendations for you, depending on if you were a fan of the comic book or the cartoon.

If you liked the cartoon, then you will enjoy G.I. Joe: Resolute. It's basically the cartoon you remember, only with an intelligent plot, better art, decent voice acting, and action scenes that are probably closer to how you envisioned them as a kid. There are still a few funky artifacts left over -- Duke is still a sergeant yet commands officers, tandem-seat helicopters are piloted from the front seat, etc -- but at least it doesn't make Baby Jesus cry.

You can watch the entire series here.

If you were a fan of the comic book series (which was written by Larry Hama, a Vietnam veteran who tried to make the series as military-accurate as possible) then I suggest you go watch reruns of The Unit.

No, really. They have code names (Betty Blue, Snake Doctor); they are an elite unit which technically doesn't exist (303rd Logistical Studies Group); they often use cutting-edge technology; they fight terrorists. It really is a "real life" version of the G.I Joe team. Sadly, it's been cancelled, but it lives on in syndication.

Now you know... and we all know what knowing is.


  1. You have to be kidding about the ice thing.

  2. Popcorn flick. Enjoyable in that respect.



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