"The Rise of Cobra" rises above the rest

Aug. 12, 2009, midnight | By Dennis Chae | 11 years, 2 months ago

Toy line-based movie makes for a summer flick with a kick

Some would say that G.I. Joe epitomizes the epic fantasies of every American boy growing up in the 80s and early 90s. Dynamic characters such as the heroic Duke and the skillful Snake Eyes engaged the nation's youth with American values and non-stop action. Now, Paramount rekindles this franchise, piecing together an adrenaline-filled thrill ride aimed at an older audience, but still full of the signature cartoon action that made "G.I. Joe" a staple in the lives of millions of American children.

For what it was intended to do, "G.I. Joe" definitely delivers. While it may not be groundbreaking in any way, the film is a fun, testosterone-filled flick that simply entertains – a goal many other action movies seem to have lost sight of. While not without its faults, "G.I. Joe" manages to present an exciting action flick, succeeding where other summer flicks such as "Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen" and "Terminator: Salvation" have failed.

The story opens as Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) are given the task of delivering weapons manufacturer McCullen's (Christopher Eccleston) hi-tech 'nanomites,' which consist of nano-sized robots that can dissolve virtually anything. The unsuspecting heroes are ambushed by sexy villainess the Baroness (Sienna Miller) and her group of terrorists, who attempt to steal the nanomites. Their plans are foiled when the G.I. Joes, Scarlett (Rachel Nichols), Heavy Duty (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and Breaker (Said Taghmaoui), come to the rescue. Duke and Ripcord are soon invited to become members of the G.I. Joes by General Hawk (Dennis Quaid) due to their past conflicts with the Baroness. What ensues is a battle against the terrorist organization Cobra to prevent the nanomites from getting into the wrong hands and to thwart its evil intention of - you guessed it - taking over the world.

One of the film's greatest strengths is despite the mind-blowing number of characters, each is well-represented within the plot. The good guys and the bad guys are both given the screen time necessary to develop into characters with which the audience can relate. The impressive roster of G.I. Joe characters are all effectively introduced and explored through flashbacks and other distinguishing tools. Surprisingly, this deep character introduction doesn't interrupt the flow of the plot and keeps the audience engaged.

Sadly, this blessing is canceled out by drab performances and poor screenwriting. On the whole, the actors' performances are unconvincing. Channing Tatum's Duke is a one-dimensional do-gooder, Marlon Wayans' Ripcord gives annoying efforts at comic relief and Dennis Quaid's General Hawk is really just an overdone portrayal of a military head. Sienna Miller has the lone standout performance as the Baronness.

Also, it seems that even a $175 million budget can't buy quality CGI. This is mostly forgivable, but a scene at an underwater base is bad enough to knock this flick down to the B-list.

Fortunately, the most important aspect of the movie, the exhilarating action, is well-executed. From a cat-and-mouse chase in Paris involving the infamous 'accelerator suits' to the extravagant swordfights between Snake Eyes and his foes, Director Stephen Sommers ensures the action is exciting yet not too stylized. He keeps it straightforward as a classic tale of good versus bad and stays faithful to the G.I. Joe legacy.

Despite any misconceptions that "G.I. Joe" is best suited for children, the movie adds a fresh twist to the series that makes it enjoyable for any action enthusiast. It's a formidable bid into the action-adventure genre and produces a completely entertaining view of one of America's most beloved franchises. In a season filled with disappointments, the one who rescued the summer blockbuster scene turned out to be a Real American Hero.

"G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra" (118 minutes) is rated PG-13 for strong sequences of action violence and mayhem throughout. Now playing in theaters everywhere.

Dennis Chae. Whhaazzaaa, I'm Dennis Chae. I love my Baltimore Ravens and shoes. In fact, I collect sneakers and am always looking for a new pair of Nikes. The Ultimate Fighting Championship is probably going to be the greatest thing ever in a year or so. I … More »

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