G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra


Stephen Sommers returns with another disappointing post-Mummy feature, and it’s enough to make you give up waiting to see if he’ll ever be able to match 1998’s Deep Rising.

I can’t say if this is better or worse than Van Helsing, cos thankfully I’ve wiped that cinematic road kill from my memory, but it’s certainly not a good film.G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra G.I Joe is an ultra-secret multinational elite fighting force (I remember hearing rumours that this change occurred as the US Army weren’t popular enough with international audiences) though it means very little when the majority of them are American and they’re reporting to the President of the United States. As with many cartoon to live action remakes, all the names sound silly. We’re subjected to Heavy Duty (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee), Dr. Mindbender (Kevin J. O’Connor) and the Baroness (Sienna Miller), and it’s hard not to giggle every time the characters refer to our heroes as ‘Joes’.

The film takes place in ‘the near future’ (it’s been a while since I’ve seen that one) and has the Joes (teehee!) facing off McCullen (Christopher Eccleston), the last in a long line of Scottish weapons manufacturers (I’m serious… ). The plot itself means very little – characters make massive leaps of logic and we scoot from location to location all in an effort to get to the next action set piece.

This would all be fine of course if the action were any good. Sommers’ films always used to have a sense of fun about them, but somewhere along the way he’s forgotten how to pull this off. There is one flashback that is actually thrilling, and the chase through Paris has the right idea, even if it completely flops in the face of atrocious special effects.

Ah, yes. The special effects. G.I. Joe has the worst CGI I have ever seen. Period. I’ve played computer games from ten years ago that looked more realistic than this. It’s ugly, with no consistency and completely fails to integrate itself with the live action. As uselessly confusing as the effects were in Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen, at least they had a distinct visual style.

There’s really not much to recommend here. This film pretty much hits every beat in the ‘why blockbusters suck’ argument during its 118-minute run time. None of the actors survive with reputations unscathed (even Eccleston makes a fool of himself) and I genuinely hope for their sakes that they didn’t sign themselves in for any sequels. The only interesting aspect of the film are the Sommers regulars that pop up every now and again (Arnold Vosloo, Kevin J. O’Connor and Brendan Fraser), and it merely serves to remind us just how much better his earlier films were.

Undiscerning 8 year old boys may enjoy it. Everyone else can forget about it.

Rating: 1.0 stars
Review by Stuart Wilson, 7th August 2009
Hoopla Factor: 1.5 stars

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