"G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" (such a contemptible title, but more on that later) is the newest film perpetrated on the public by Stephen Sommers. Sommers' first big hit, "The Mummy" was a fun, but loud throwback to the horror films of the 30s only using special effects from the new century. Since then, he has made a series of sequels and other films that only proceed to get louder and more obnoxious.
With "G.I. Joe", the noise, bad sound effects and even worse acting reaches a new level. In short, I will not be going to any more films directed by Steohen Sommers, unless they have enormously good buzz.
I was actually more than a little shocked by how bad this new film is.
The acting is terrible; even Dennis Quaid, who plays General Hawk, in charge of a special brigade called "G.I. Joe", is usually able to surprise me with his ability to make a film work. In "Joe", he looks like he is passing a kidney stone in every scene. Really. He pops up with an incredibly pained expression on his face and barks out his lines like he is trying to get back to the bathroom for another try. Channing Tatum plays Duke, the 'handsome, courageous lead' necessary in such a film. I have never seen Tatum in any other films as a lead, but if "Joe" is any indication, the guy is being cast for his looks. He can't act. There are a few moments when he is trying to flirt with his old girlfriend and they come across like a high school kid trying to taunt the girl he is secretly interested in. Christopher Eccleston (a once promising British actor who most recently played the Ninth "Doctor Who") Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (most recently on TV's "Lost"), Joseph Gordon-Levitt ("(500) Days of Summer") and many others play various characters, heroes and villains, sometimes changing halfway through the film. But it is difficult to tell who is who because the film is soo loud and makes little sense. You get to the point that you really don't care what is going on. Or who is responsible.
It really is inconceivable to me why some of the actors are involved in this film. The plot concerns the theft of a new bioweapon developed by Christopher Eccleston's company. Tatum and Marlon Wayans (What the F?) are two soldiers hired to protect the shipment. Soon, they are under attack (in what appears to be a field covered with Astroturf and fake trees) and trying to fend off the baddies. When they start to lose ground, the G.I. Joe brigade shows up to lend a hand. And Tatum keeps saying, "I want in". Finally, they let him and Wayans in.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whose other film this summer is the far more impressive "(500) Days of Summer" plays some sort of doctor. He may be a villain but it is difficult to tell because nothing is extremely clear in this film. Throughout, he wears a Hannibal Lecter-like mask obscuring the bottom of his face and speaks with a voice that seems to mimic the villains in the "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" television show. When you start paying homage to a kids show that is generally recognized as one of the worst ever created, something is wrong with your character. More importantly, something is wrong with the film.
Finally, they show up at G.I. Joe headquarters and get a tour of all of the special effects direct Sommers has at his disposal. Shockingly, they are really pretty unrealistic looking. Maybe this is due to the shear volume of special effects. At one point, a plane flies into view and the character in the cockpit looks like bad special effects. This continues throughout. I think the key problem is that because there are so many special effects, the entire look of the film becomes flat and 2-D. Everything looks painted and poorly executed.
So, back to the title. The film is called "G. I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra". It isn't just called "G.I. Joe". The title and the film have been set-up to be sequel ready. They are already anticipating making more than one film. This means they expect the film to be a huge hit. Why is that? Because it is filled with special effects, good looking models and a fantastical story? It is for these very reasons there should never be another "G.I. Joe" film. Given the fact the film made a tremendous amount of money during the opening weekend, I think we are due for at least one sequel. Given the negative buzz for the first film, perhaps we will only be subjected to one sequel. Let's hope. And pray that the powers that be can hear our pleas over the din of this film.