Sunday, August 09, 2009

G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra

Year: 2009
Director: Stephen Sommers
Cast: Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans, Rachel Nichols, Sienna Miller, Christopher Eccleston, Byung-hun Lee, Dennis Quaid, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Said Taghmaoui, Ray Park, Jonathan Pryce

You know what other cartoon was famous in the 80s and was based on a toyline besides Transformers? G.I. Joe. It spawned cartoon shows, more toys and comicbooks. And just like Transformers, it gets the Hollywood treatment.

The film begins with a man named McCullen (Christopher Eccleston), a weapons designer who introduces a new weapon to NATO. It's a special warhead that contains nanomites, tiny robotic bugs that eat away at anything made of metal.

So McCullen arranges for the US military to transport the warheads from his facility to NATO. The military convoy, led by Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) are ambushed by troops armed with super high tech gadgets. They are then promptly rescued by the top secret G.I. Joe team, who offer to help secure the warhead transport to its destination.

However, it is later revealed that McCullen planned the attack, and is planning to use his weapon on major cities across the globe. On McCullen's side are The Baroness (Sienna Miller), the mysterious Doctor (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and the ninja Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee). Duke and Ripcord join the Joes, who are led by General Hawk (Dennis Quaid). The Joe key players are the lovely Scarlett (Rachel Nichols), mute ninja Snake Eyes (Ray Park), communications expert Breaker (Said Taghmaoui) and weapons man Heavy Duty (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje).

What follows then are many edge of the seat action sequences, lots of explosions and destruction. But here's what makes this interesting: many of the lead characters have histories. Duke and The Baroness were romantically involved before this, and Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow are mortal enemies. Director Stephen Sommers did the right thing by fleshing out his characters well. Through a handful of flashbacks, viewers will get to see the motivations and backstories of the lead players, thus we understand them and empathise with them better. Sommers deserves credit for balancing the action and drama perfectly.

And the action? Well, all I can say is it's mind blowing. It will remind you of Transformers, due to the amount of shit getting blown up. But I suppose watching humans fight is a tad easier than watching robots fight, so it'll be easier on the eyes and a bit more believable. Check out the car chase sequence in Paris, which is awesome to behold even though it's very obvious a lot of CGI was used.

The cast perform splendidly, I must say. Most of them have great chemistry on screen. Tatum still looks more like an action figure than an actor, but being the former is probably more important than the latter in this film. Nichols, Wayans and Miller also stand out, especially Wayans who gets to be the comic relief. Check out the cameo appearances of a few stars of Sommers' The Mummy in this film. I gotta admit, that was cool.

So what didn't work? Some of the lines were quite cheesy, especially the Doctor's lines. With the voice and the dialogue given, Gordon-Levitt sounded like a cartoon character, even more so than the Decepticons. And poor Quaid was underused, but then again his character wasn't really important.

My verdict: it's a great candidate for a summer action blockbuster. (4/5)

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