Friday, August 7, 2009

G.I. Joe (Movie Review)

Although I didn’t collect the toys as a kid, I often watched the G.I. Joe cartoon whenever it came on. I came into this movie experience as a casual fan of “Joe”, but as a big fan of action movies with sci-fi elements.

On one significant front, this movie delivered. If you’re looking for a big action flick with lots of explosions, effects and crazy CGI fight scenes, don’t miss this flick. From beginning to end, viewers are assaulted with visually creative concepts. Gadgets, weapons and sets are often laced with CGI light or electricity. Not much realism in sight, but far from a Schumacher Batman movie.

Costumes are respectful of their cartoon counterparts. They are practical enough for a live action movie, and appropriately stylized for a movie of this type.

So what “type” of movie is this? It’s Michael Bay’s “Transformers” without the immature jokes and juvenile protagonists. Certainly tolerable and at some points enjoyable, but nearly without substance in terms of plot and featuring almost hopelessly shallow characters.

Although, as I mentioned, it is filled to the brim with nifty sci-fi weapons and gadgets, there are no boundaries established regarding what is possible technologically and what is not. As a result, I never feared for anyone's life, because for all I knew, some gadget would be pulled out at any moment that could respond to exactly the peril at hand.

This kind of world can still be fun to visit if the characters are compelling, but none of them really were. A few attempts were made to bring more than two dimensions to Ripcord and Scarlet, but they fell flat. (I also find Marlon Wayans incredibly unfunny, despite his efforts on this or his other films.) Duke and the Baroness had interesting conflict set up between them in the story, but it was instantly fixed late in the movie by another very convenient gadget. The best attempt at characterization was found in the back-story frequently referred to between Snake Eyes and Stormshadow. But the fact that Snake Eyes looks like a giant rubber action figure (complete with rubber nose and lips for some odd reason) kept me from investing much in him as a "real" person.

The only bit of relevance this movie possibly contained. from my perspective, is in a couple of exchanges between Ripcord and Scarlet, where they "almost" discuss the contrast between emotion and logic. But their dialogue is in service to a shallow romantic subplot and doesn't truly explore either of these ideas.

Fans of the original animated G.I. Joe will likely enjoy the ride and appreciate the "nods" to their childhood by way of catch-phrases and the appearance of various characters. This movie will also likely appeal to 'tween and young teen boys. But for those looking for any amount of realism or character development, this movie will be a disappointment.

Rated PG-13 for strong sequences of action violence and mayhem throughout

Quality: 8.0/10

Relevance: 5.0/10

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