G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (***)

gi-joe-baroness-bootySurely you’ve heard the buzz and outcry surrounding Paramount Picture’s decision to withhold G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra from the bulk of film critics this week, instead giving a few web mainstays like Devin Faraci of CHUD.com and Harry Knowles from Aint’tItCoolNews.com the chance to see the much maligned Stephen Sommers movie in advance. Frankly, I think it’s a great move by Paramount. They proved with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen that a 20 percent fresh rating on RottenTomatoes.com can still generate $390 million (and counting) at the domestic box office. And honestly, most critics take themselves too seriously and are kind of douchey, so I like to see the pompous band of snobs get beat down from time-to-time.

I can understand Paramount’s trepidation with G.I. Joe. This movie cost upwards of $200 million to make and hasn’t spawned the kind of upbeat buzz reserved for beloved toys and cartoons from the 1980s, like Transformers did. Maybe that’s due to the absence of a big-name director, ala Michael Bay, but from my point of view it’s been poorly coordinated marketing campaigns, specifically trailers that have been less then flattering. There are rumors of Sommers removal from the project earlier this summer, and if his hand was stirring the marketing pot, then his removal has definitely revamped and re-focused the publicity and advertising in the last 30 days.

Because there were no press screenings, Dan and I caught this last night at midnight. The theater wasn’t chocked full, but I was surprised at the size of the crowd. I figured it would be me, Dan and a dozen middle-aged guys with pot guts, graying/thinning hair, wearing Cobra t-shirts proudly displaying the enthusiasm and memories of youth but tempered with the pot gut realities of adulthood. While I heard some theatergoers exclaim “that was so stupid” after the movie, I didn’t really take that as a downbeat shot at the flick. In fact, it’s on the money – G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is stupid.

But it’s also a lot of brainless, explosion-filled, non-stop, frantic fun. G.I. Joe is not a serious movie and isn’t trying to be. It’s over-the-top, cheesy and bombastic. Exactly like the toys and precisely like the cartoon. If you’re a G.I. Joe fan, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. And I think you’ll find it safe, for the most part, to take your kids. It is fairly violent for a PG-13 movie and a little gory in places (Storm Shadow has some deep cuts on his chest, people get throwing stars in their head and face, a girl gets stabbed through with a knife and a couple of characters get burned up pretty good), but the vulgarity and sexuality so prevalent in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is nearly absent, and that’s what I generally look at when deciding whether or not to take my kids. Let’s put it this way: I’d for sure take my 11 year-old daughter (although she’d poke her eyes out), and I’d flip a coin as to taking my six year-old son.

Read Dan’s review below for more viewpoint and I’d also like to note I wholeheartedly agree with his moderate lusting after Sienna Miller and Rachel Nichols. Also, if you are worried about the exact content of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, make sure to check out Kids-in-Mind.com later in the day.

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