Friday, August 7, 2009

Yo, Joe!

From the Egyptian desert to deep below the polar ice caps, the elite G.I. JOE team uses the latest in next-generation spy and military equipment to fight the corrupt arms dealer Destro and the growing threat of the mysterious Cobra organization to prevent them from plunging the world into chaos in “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”.

Director Stephen Sommers adapts the beloved Hasbro G.I. Joe toy line with this Paramount Pictures production that pits the Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity against the evil forces of the organization known as Cobra. This is a formula action movie with a lot of fantastic gadgets. It has power suits. G.I. Joe also displays some kind of magnetic energy pulse weapons and lots of fancy airplanes, submarines and earth-drilling vehicles. The main technical device in the film is nanotechnology. Its use in the film is pervasive and this movie provides ample illustrations of how this technology could be dangerous. After seeing this movie you can understand why many scientists are calling for tight international controls of nanotechnology. All this gadgetry, combined with the film's well-staged action scenes and fast pace makes it entertaining. Saddled with the unwieldy name “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,” and produced in association with the toy company Hasbro this movie is fully expected to be another franchise film. A sequel is built into the plot. Based on this first movie, I expect it will spawn another film or two which will produce a combined worldwide box office total of a billion dollars or more. The movie's main character is a G.I. named Duke (played by Channing Tatum). He and his friend, Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) are the only two survivors of an attack on their heavily-armed convoy by a team of mercenaries led by Duke's old friend Ana AKA The Baroness(Sienna Miller). The mercenaries have superior technology, including those magnetic pulse weapons, which are used to wipe out most of the convoy. Duke and Ripcord are rescued by a secret special operations unit called G.I. Joe. Despite its name, G.I. Joe is not American, but rather is international, comprised of the best soldiers from the world's armies. Duke and Ripcord talk their way into the organization and after undergoing a ridiculously short training program become elite commandos in the secret military organization headed by General Hawk (Dennis Quaid). They are opposed by international arms manufacturer McCullen (Christopher Eccleston). He wants to use nanotechnology bombs to rule the world (yes, just like a Bond villain). He not only uses nanotechnology to build bombs which can destroy whole cities, but uses medical nanorobots to control people and to change their appearance. McCullen is aided by a mysterious mad scientist, of course. G.I. Joe's mission is to stop McCullen from using the nanotech bombs. This is accomplished, but acres of room is left in the conclusion of the movie for a sequel.

The story has a lot of coincidences in it. Duke and Ripcord just happen to be the only survivors of an attack. They also just happen to be the only people in the entire G.I. Joe organization who know the person who led that attack. They also just happen to be the only people who happen know that mysterious mad scientist. Another member of the G.I. Joe team, Snake Eyes (played by Ray Park of “X-Men & Star Wars: Episode 1,” who AGAIN has no dialogue in this film at all) just happens to be the only person in the organization who knows the true identity of the arch-villain Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee). Granted, this is not nearly as many coincidences as it takes to get the ridiculous plot of Atonement off the ground, but it still had me laughing and rolling my eyes. It helps that G.I. Joe doesn't take itself nearly as seriously as Atonement did. The acting is so-so, and the film uses a lot of overt sex appeal in the form of big-breasted starlets for a movie based on a line of children's toys. The same could be said of the Transformers franchise, particularly the second film in the series. But, as a pure action movie, a popcorn movie if you will, G.I. Joe delivers the goods. It was good for what it was so it gets a 3 on my "Go See" scale.

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