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G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra review – how many explosions can you put in one film?

Submitted by on August 6, 2009 – 11:58 pm3 Comments

gijoeWhen the first images of G.I. Joe appeared online, I was not alone in thinking that it is likely to be a big pile of doo-doo. In fact even after a fairly impressive trailer the world continued to ignore the comic book adaptation, forgive Warner Bros for delaying Harry Potter and carry on about the young wizard instead.

Initially reviewers around the world thought that the studio responsible for the latest Stephen Sommers film had no in it, since very few media screenings have been shown. After a few semi-lukewarm reports coming from reviewers though, I decided to take my money in hand and watch the film that makes the eighties He-Man cartoons seem almost heterosexual.


An elite military unit comprised of special operatives known as G.I. Joe, operating out of The Pit, takes on an evil organization led by a notorious arms dealer.


Let’s get one thing straight: I like Stephen Sommers. Being responsible for The Mummy, The Mummy Returns and , he certainly deserves an area in my DVD collection. One thing has remained consistent with these films and that is lots of fast-packed silly entertainment with fairly unconvincing CGi. Nothing has changed with G.I. Joe then, as the film is almost 2 hours of explosions and CGi that doesn’t quite fit the bill. You sit there watching this film and are not immersed in it due to the fact that everyone looks like they are in a studio in front of a green screen. I am aware that they probably all are, but the audience should be fooled for the most part.

So in many ways Sommers has managed to achieve something that we knew he could. Unfortunately he has not surpassed previous efforts. In fact the comic relief (often provided by Marlon Wayans) is lacking somewhat. It feels as if it was put in as an afterthought.

Recently Tobin Bell has described the Saw series of films as “visceral”. This is perhaps the best word for describing this film. Every futuristic gunshot and explosion wrenches at your insides and your eyes are under a constant barrage of flashing explosive fireballs. If I didn’t know better, then I would have believed was responsible for this film. It is as if Mr Sommers has taken a few lessons of “awesomeness” from Bay and applied it to his films.

Those of us who aren’t blind will notice that a cameo by Brendan Fraser can be witnessed. Unfortunately Fraser seems small (and relatively weathered) in comparison to everyone else on screen who (despite having various scars) remain  pretty and shiny with perfect hair. I can only imagine that the main cast carry around hair straighteners if ever they get into a punchup between beauty treatments.

Having low expectations for a film can really help a reviewer. I was absolutely convinced I was going to see an awful film. What I experienced though is an ideal movie for boys. It sits in exactly the same demographic as the toy it is based on. Younger boys will love the needless explosive elements of the film, whilst older boys will appreciate the tightness of the outfits they all wear. Unfortunately for the female of the species, they are all but forgotten as you have very little character development with the two main women because they are far too busy looking shiny.


When you watch it as an adult though, the cracks shine through. The CGi is lazy, the casting seems to be based on looks alone, Rachel Nichols is good until she is required to express some sort of emotion, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s mockney accent is awful and the least said about Christopher Eccleston’s uncomfortable Scottish accent the better. This is a film full of flaws, but you didn’t expect perfection now did you?

G.I. Joe does what it says on the tin. Glossy perfect spend nearly two hours shooting very big guns, juggling bombs, and kicking each other’s pretty little face in. Despite the very camp style it is done in, the film never takes itself very seriously and benefits because of it. The Mummy’s and Van Helsing were never perfect but they were entertaining nonetheless. I can’t imagine ever wanting to include G.I. Joe in my DVD collection sometime in the future, but then again I am not some teenage boy who would pay all his pocket money to see Sienna Miller in tight outfits swinging her legs around for 120 minutes!


If you have boys in your family then this is the film to take them to. G.I. Joe retains aome of the fun of Stephen Sommers previous work (Mummy 1, 2, Van Helsing) but sadly retains its flaws; including bad CGi and weak comic relief.

Watch it and you’ll be surprised. To call it explosive would be the most terrible understatement. I suggest you keep away if you suffer from epilepsy though.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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