It's a bad sign when a half-hearted pun like the title of this review is wittier than an entire film. It's a worse sign when you put that film next to Michael Bay's ' Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
' and can't figure out which is worse.
Yes, Hollywood's new maxim of 'what's old is new again' has come to the GI Joe franchise, one of the best selling toy lines of the 80s. And like recent adaptations of what was good or at least popular in the 80s, it didn't translate well in the slightest. This is 'G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra'.
Helmed by Stephen Sommers
, who has great amounts of experience in creating watchable idiocy (see 'The Mummy'), GI Joe actually starts in 1641. In France. Naturally, because GI Joe has so much of a connection to the French people.
Once the film finally arrives in the present day, the most prominent character from the toyline finally arrives- Duke, played by Channing Tatum. Yes, you read that correctly, the main protagonist is Channing Tatum
. The acting in this film is stilted, filled with people tripping over themselves to give their convoluted lines for this convulsed story. It says a great deal that the best actor in this film isn't Dennis Quaid, but the one actor in the movie that doesn't make a noise- Ray Park
The film has a cavalcade of characters from he TV show, so the movie does have that going for it. However, the movie's aesthetic for sleek power suits instead of outlandish costumes and some semblance of realism abandons the majority of the charm that the original show had. There are nods and winks to the show of old, including a cringe-worthy 'knowing is half the battle' reference, but the end result is something that visually draws no similarities to its source material.
The movie decided to go with character back story to help the audience differentiate between characters, and this is where the movie really starts to sink. The action is passable, but the pace of the film is dragged down by going repeatedly into how the characters got where they were. The movie explains in ten minutes what one of the characters could have explained in a regular conversation in four. This doesn't compensate even remotely for the loss of the original show's over the top personas, leaving instead characters with the same names whose only credit is attempting to be hardcore.
A final note is that the special effects, which are horribly, horribly obvious. They're distinctly lower quality than Transformers, and the one good sequence the film has got spoiled in the trailers.
So really, what's the film got left? It's certainly not the laws of physics or logic, which are always malleable at best in action movies. This has to be the first time I've seen a movie rely on ice sinking instead of floating to create an action sequence. That simple fact really sums up all you need to know about Rise of Cobra (which only really rises in the last ten minutes): it's bland and dumb, but not even in a satisfying way.
Now you know. And no, the world may never know what the other half of the battle is.