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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Yo Joe!

I grew up in the 80s and had an extensive line of GI Joe figures and vehicles. I religiously watched the cartoon and own most of the original series on DVD. I hate that Sigma 6 pseudo-anime crap and the gimmicky odd scale figures that go with it. That series is the worst thing to ever happen to GI Joe- complete trash.
-No, I am not an uber nerd and I do not live in my mother's basement.-
Because GI Joe remains my favorite thing about childhood, there was no doubt that I would see this movie. I knew that, much like Transformers, things would be changed for various reasons. I knew that the brightly colored costumes would never make screen because of the extra goofiness they would cause (same as in X-Men).
I will admit that Marlon Wayans and the Delta Six suits were definitely things that I was dreading. It is not that I do not like Wayans, it is that I was afraid of his goofiness destroying the movie. The Delta Six thing just seemed like a bad idea altogether. I was not too thrilled with a maskless Destro either.
My wife and I went last night. Other than the crappy worn out chairs in the theater (Scumridge), we left with smiles on our faces. GI Joe, again like Transformers, was a fun movie. The pacing may have been off in some areas and some characters got glazed over too quickly, but for the most part we enjoyed it. Cobra Commander proved to be the most interesting character in the movie although his official mask was disappointing. I also became involved in Duke as a character, which is remarkable because I have always HATED Duke.
Ray Park kicked ass as Snake Eyes. Lee Byung-hun rocked as Storm Shadow, but I did not like Cobra's resident ninja using a gun. While Snake Eyes has always been a "commando" and has used small firearms as part of his arsenal, Storm Shadow never saw the honor in using guns. He was strictly an old school ninja with swords, stars, bow and arrows, etc. His repeated use of handguns in the film defiled the character. This was by far the biggest disappointment in terms of characterization in the film.
Marlon Wayans as Ripcord. As I previously mentioned, I was not looking forward to this performance. I have to admit, my fears were wrong. While Wayans did add some goofiness, it was pretty much released in the appropriate manner and at the appropriate times. He was the classic comic relief. I still do not know why Ripcord was chosen as his character considering there was a whole slew of GI Joes available - some of which were actually black guys to begin with (Stalker would have been a better choice). It is not that I have a problem with making Ripcord black; my problem is that Wayans' character was not Airborne. Without a parachute, the name Ripcord makes absolutely not sense (he only has a parachute in a single scene; any other character in that scene would also have a parachute). My other issue with Ripcord was his hitting on Scarlett. This greatly undermined the romance between the red-haired hottie and Snake Eyes.
The Delta Six suits were not as bad as a I feared. They provided some necessary filler during the training sequence (which is actually one of the most intelligent scenes other than Brendan Fraser's obnoxious cameo). They also provided great moments of comic relief, particularly with Wayans. Their involvement in the chase scene added a fun uniqueness to the movie. Still, I was happy to read that they may not return for the sequel (come on, you did not think they would stop at one did you?).
In terms of pure entertainment, I would give GI Joe four stars out of five. It is almost as much fun as Transformers 2, but not quite (who does not love the twins?). It is less cerebral than Transformers 1, but still intelligent enough that it avoids outright goofiness. The characters are fairly three dimensional, even if Snake Eyes was highly underutilized. The fight scenes are well choreographed and put together nicely. The explosions are big and loud. Best of all, unlike the cartoons, the guns fire bullets (most of them anyway) rather than lasers and people die. Sure they are "green shirts" and Neo Vipers, but still... The guns that do not fire bullets are not lasers (thank God!), but sonic energy weapons. Supposedly most of the key technology in the film is based on real research and prototypes...
If you want to see a great, Oscar-worthy film... then go see something else. If you want to have a fun time at the theater and enjoy some great explosions and action, then check out GI Joe. After all, this is a movie based on a toy line...

Tribe 7