If Star Wars was my Number One obsession as a youth, then GI Joe was close enough behind that it could be considered a statistical tie. As I grew older I never forgot my fondness for the toys and comics and cartoons. The toys came first for me, but they all went together. I had the Headquarters playset, which was awesome, but my favorite toy was the Cobra Rattler. That thing was badass.
Once I reached my 20s and learned that it was possible for a nerd to find acceptance in a worldwide community, one of my favorite nerd time-killers was choosing the fantasy cast of a live-action GI Joe movie. The cast changed often depending on my mood or my latest film obsession. I'm pretty sure Brad Pitt was supposed to play a significant role. I don't remember if I ever found a suitable Scarlett, but there were several worthy candidates for the Baroness. Michelle Forbes was one of my better choices.
The point is that I was a big GI Joe junkie as a kid, and my biggest fantasy was to see a live-action GI Joe movie. Last night my wish came true. I have to say that the new film GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra is probably exactly the movie the nine-year-old me wanted to see. Sadly, that doesn't do much for the current thirty-five-year-old version.
I wish I could describe anything specific about the movie and explain what I thought of it, but I cannot. I know that I had a big stupid grin the whole time, but in hindsight I cannot for the life of me figure out why. The movie is poorly written and not particularly well-made. The effects are cartoony -- not in a clever way, but in a shoddy CGI way. The acting is all over the place, with a particular thumbs-down to Channing Tatum who, as a supposed leading man, really needs to work on his whole inarticulate mumbling problem. The action has its moments but is too busy to really get a feel for what is happening.
As a fan of the toys there were a lot of moments to enjoy. In particular I loved Scarlett's crossbow, and I loved all the vehicles with hidden guns and rockets coming out of everywhere. And I loved the appearance of the USS Flagg aircraft carrier at the end. As a fan of the comic book I enjoyed the fact that they called the GI Joe base the Pit. However, also as a fan of the comics, I hated the reworking of the Storm Shadow/Snake Eyes rivalry, and I particularly hated the perfunctory reference to the Snake Eyes/Scarlett relationship only to have it completely disappear without a word so that Ripcord could have a love interest. But then, I am a purist.
I will say this: I got my money's worth in the first ten minutes. Duke and Ripcord (still regular soldiers at this point) are escorting a package in dangerous territory using standard military equipment. Out of the sky comes this crazy-ass futuristic flying craft carrying the Baroness and a bunch of Vipers. They swoop in with these awesome energy weapons and blow the shit out of everything trying to get the package, but then here comes the Joes. Fuckin' Snake Eyes drops in out of nowhere with his ninja sword, and then you see Scarlett take a Viper down with a laser-guided crossbow bolt. They save the day and the Baroness is forced to escape empty-handed. That sequence is what I'd waited to see on screen for twenty years. After that the characters actually start talking and the whole thing goes to shit.
Simply put, unless you really loved the toys and comics in the early '80s there is just no reason to see this movie. It is loud and pointless. But if you did love these things as a kid then you will probably have fun -- at least until the plot kicks in. So now you know...