9.5 out of 10
Yo Joe! Stephen Sommers big screen adaption of the popular toy property is exactly what it should be; It is a big, loud, fun, action packed, kick ass summer popcorn movie that perfectly captures the spirit of the cartoons and comic books from the 80's. I can tell you right now that any bad reviews you've read are from critics who clearly do not get the appeal of the Real American Heroes. Fortunately for us, Sommers does. Whether you're a fan of GI Joe (I am) or just like big budget, action spectacles, you will enjoy every pound pounding moment of the Rise of Cobra.
Because of the negativity surrounding GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra (check out my box office prediction here), I feel the need to defend it. Let's start with the biggest complaint I've seen so far. The film is mindless and has no plot. This could not be farther from the truth. There is plenty of story here and they even go out of their way way to flesh out back stories for some of the characters.
Do not get me wrong; It's not the best plot ever, but GI Joe was never supposedly to be Shakespeare. The basic plot is this; NATO soldiers Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) are in charge of guarding a suitcase filled with a dangerous new weapon based on nanomite technology that was developed by arms dealer, MARS industries. While transporting the case, they are attacked by a mysterious mercenaries led by the Baroness (Sienna Miller) and then rescued by a covert agency called GI Joe that led by General Hawk (Dennis Quaid). Hawk then enlists them to join his team of super soldiers and help keep the world safe from the evil mercenary group known only as Cobra. That's it. From there it is awesome action scene after awesome action scene as the Joes attempt to thwart Cobra in their quest for global domination. More than enough story for what is meant to be a fun filled summer blockbuster.
Rumors have abounded that the film was terrible and that Paramount fired director Stephen Sommers because of this. The rumors have since been debunked and after watching the movie, I know for certain that they were not true. Sommers has made a film that plays to the strength of the brand while being accessible to new fans. He stages some amazing action sequences in the movie and I have to say it is his best film to date. I know that is not saying much considering this is the man behind the god awesome Van Helsing, but he is also responsible for the first two Mummy films (great popcorn flicks) and the seriously under rated Deep Rising. Much like Michael Bay (Transformers 1 and 2), Sommers will probably never get the respect he reads from critics (he has this criticism respect), but the box office receives for his movies speak for themselves.
The best thing about Joe is the amazing, visceral action sequences. My biggest complaint about many of the action films today (I'm talking to you Transformers) is that sometimes you can not even tell what is going on. That is not the case here. The characters never get swallowed up in an orgy of bullets and explosions. Because of all of the different Joes involved in each sequence, it is important to highlight each one of them and Sommers does this to brilliant effect. It reminded me of how skillfully the action scenes in the original Star Wars trilogy were done. Cross cutting between the different characters effortlessly and seamlessly. There is one incredible scene that takes place on the streets of Paris and it is a hoot and a half. You can see a making of video here. In fact it may be the best action scene of the year. The sword fights between black clad, silent ninja, Snake-Eyes and his nemesis, Storm Shadow are expertly staged and will leave you gasping. In fact anytime Snake-Eyes took out his sword my heart skipped a beat. Truly awesome stuff.
My only complaint about the movie is that Snake-Eye's costume was a little too sculpted. That's it ladies and gentlemen. That's my only complaint about a movie I've been anxiously waiting for since I was 9 years old.
The actors are all perfect in their roles and any complaints you may have read about Channing Tatum's performance should be ignored for the rubbish that it is. Tatum as soldier for life, Duke, is perfectly suited for the role and partnerships great strength and resolve to the character. Marlon Wayans as Duke's sidekick Ripcord is there to provide comic relief in between explosions and does a fine job. I was quite relieved by this as the casting of Wayans scared the living hell out of me. Dennis Quaid as leader of the Joes, General Hawk, barks a lot of orders and does not have all that much to do beyond that, but as always he is a pleasure to watch. Although he does not utter a single line in the movie, Ray Park is fantastic as silent ninja, Snake-Eyes, impressively bringing one of my favorite characters of all time to life. The rest of the Joes are great as well, but there are too many of them to get into here.
Among the villains, Christopher Eccleston is just fine as the villainous Destroy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is appropriately creepy as the Doctor. White clad, evil ninja, Storm Shadow is played by Byung-Hun Lee and he is awesome, both with his physicality and his nefarious line delivery. All of the players playing the bad guys do a great job, but the film belongs to Sienna Miller as the Baroness. To get the obvious out of the way, Miller is beyond hot in her tight leather outfit accessorized with glasses. She's like a dominatrix librarian. Hotnessside, Miller tears into the role with a gleeful, evil glint in her eyes and gives the best performance in the movie.
To sum it up, GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra is an energetic, roller coaster ride and is the best live action adaptation of a cartoon ever. Hell, it's one of the best action movies I've ever seen. Yo Joe indeed!