Friday, August 07, 2009

G.I. JOE: Where Did All the Good Times Go?

Sat through it today. I suppose there are a couple ways to look at this. After three years of reading one lame chunk of news and leaked art after another that there's no way this flick could be lower than my lowest expectations. I was hoping on that that at the very least it would be entertaining. I have to say it barely makes the mediocre mark. There are a few cool things in there, but ultimately, it was mildly entertaining. I think the major blow for me was that just about all the actors were a little embarrassing to watch. Blame the story, writers, producers or directors, but no matter what I should want to root for someone. Hell, I can't even root for the villains and their cool gadgets.

It is true that what makes GI Joe is not really are the Joes themselves, but villains like Destro, The Baroness, Dr. Mindbender, The Crimson Twins (Tomax and Xamot), Storm Shadow, Zartan and his Dreadnocks and my personal fave Cobra Commander. Cobra always came up with the coolest gadgets and plans. Without these characters GI Joe wouldn't exist. Or at least not the GI Joe I grew up with in the 80s. And when you alter these characters to have the relationships they have in this movie it pretty much makes both the movie and the characters less interesting. Now, I already knew every story beat and character turn before watching so nothing was thrown. I was already dreading the Duke/Cobra Commander/Baroness relationship so I wasn't disappointed when the beats came up, but somehow it played out much worse than I expected and even LESS satisfying on a dumb fun scale.

The Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow tie was cheapened. I suppose I understand that they wanted to make it more dramatically different so to offer something fresh to the fans who already know the background. The way I see it, their relationship is a complex one. Probably too complex for a 120-minute movie, but the TV series always did it right. They always hinted at a past relationship that you actually had to look up in the comics or some fan forum. This movie takes all that out. This is the one-stop shop in Origin Land. The be all, end all for any questions you may have about any character's absolute basics. I think we need to get rid of that shit and keep things secret sometimes just to have more time to deal with more plot-related issues and making what is on screen less pedestrian. That said, the flashbacks and origins don't last too long. They're trivialized to a bare minimum and spread out through the entire movie. There's a moment when Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow clash swords for the first time and a flashback is tossed in before the fight continues. Then later after the Joes' headquarters is blown up Snakes Eyes is just sitting around doing nothing while everyone else is repairing the damage and we take a more detailed journey to Flashbackville. At least Duke waits till he gets on a long plane ride before he foists a flashback on us. That way he doesn't look like a lazy fucking slug.

And the action wasn't even that great. The much-loathed accelerator suits didn't play out all that bad, but it was actually the only good scene in the whole flick. Well, "good" is being too generous I think, but by that point in the flick something entertaining needed to happen and I guess that was it. And the one character I thought I was gonna dislike was the only character that I did like and that was Scarlett. She was never one of my favorite Joes. I was always either a Cover Girl or Lady Jaye fan. But with what very little Scarlett had to do here, she was okay.

Marlon Wayans as Ripcord? I suppose we've talked about this in the past, but man, he's more uninteresting than ever. His big brother must pull some awesome strings for him because I don't see how he's got a career in anything. There are just some actors that rub me the wrong way every time and Marlon Wayans is one of them. But Damon Wayans? That's a funny motherfucker.

Dennis Quaid as General Hawk. Well, at least he's more or less the same. Not a very interesting character nor was he interesting in any incarnation. But at least his rank is the same. Because what they did with Duke was made him an officer, a major at that, and that was in a flashback. At one point I believe they called him a captain. And that was BEFORE the flashback. So, that means he was demoted. But officers don't get demoted. They're kicked out. I may have to doublecheck my listening skills. I was a little disturbed that I thought they may have called Duke a captain once because he was always an EM--a sergeant. A totally different rank structure. On a second viewing I'll have to listen for that just to make sure. Because that shit's wrong in so many levels.

Breaker. I guess Said took his acting classes from the school of Jerry Bruckheimer because he's one wooden motherfucker. But I will say, he does have one good moment, but he can probably thank Stephen Sommers for giving him one totally morbid gag. He lunges two spikes into a Cobra Neo-viper's brains trying to absorb the dead dude's memories.

Cobra Commander and the Cobra Soldiers. Eh. I suppose we all new Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be a dull Cobra Commander and he doesn't fail to not disappoint. Not only is his tie with Duke and The Baroness annoying, but he just doesn't bring the personality a villain should have in a flick like this. Hell, the voice actor who played Cobra Commander in the series had more zing. Man, even when Cobra Commander dons his face plate in the flick it looks like they just stole the prop from Jason X. Ya know what? Fuck the face plate. I'll settle for a hooded Cobra Commander any day.

Alan Silvestri. It's better than the Van Helsing score. It's got some Silvestri-esque high points, but not his best.

When it comes to doing movies like these, the blame falls on so many people. Not just the writers. The writers get part blame because they're nothing but underpaid hired hands because they have to appease the powers which are Hasbro and the studio. And after watching the flick, I would hope that this would be a great vehicle for a new line of toys. In fact, all the ships, cars, planes are all amazingly boring. You would think that Hasbro woulda cracked the whip and said, "More fucking toys, dickheads!" Or maybe they did and that's what they got.

In the end, it does have moments, but most of them shine in comparison to how lifeless everything else is. These are the signs of the times. We will be getting more of these movies each summer. I don't mind flicks that are big and dumb, but come on, Hollywood. Fucking come on.


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