G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

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In preparation for the G.I. Joe: Retaliation movie CBD is taking at look back at G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Our 2 biggest G.I. Joe fans, Ed and Anthony, dusted off their copies of ROC and set out to tell you that knowing is half the battle. The other half: ninjas.

Anthony: I actually haven’t watched this movie for a while, so I was approaching it with fresh eyes. The movie took a lot of flack for being unfaithful and nonsense actiony foolishness, but the fact of the matter is that it is actually a pretty good flick, and 11 year old Anthony would have loved it.

Ed: I loved Rise of Cobra when it came out back in 2009 (has it been that long already?). It was jam-packed with action and fun. It wasn’t after the movie came out that I heard people start to complain about it. I think a lot of that criticism isn’t warranted for the movie. As you said, watching it and pretending that you are 11 years old makes the movie more enjoyable. Most of the hatred I’ve seen spewed towards “RoC” is because the plot is not believable. Those critics also wanted the movie to be more realistic and gritty. But there are “military” action movies out there that are gritty and realistic. This is a movie about the greatest toy of all time. It’s primary goal was to get kids interested in G.I. Joe again.

Anthony: I did think that framing the story by having Duke as a newbie Joe worked really well and I thought that having the team as a UN-backed operation was an interesting update now that we aren’t in the Cold War. But they could have been a little more faithful to some of the character personalities though, Hawk, Heavy Duty, and Ripcord come off a pretty generic action characters. However, Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow were perfect and the fact that they were able to weave in their complicated back story was great. They also have the best fight scenes in the movie.

Ed: Yeah… Duke… There is one of my issues with “RoC”. Duke has always been a Master Sergeant in the G.I. Joe universe. Making him a Captain in the movie didn’t sit well with me. I didn’t see any reason to make him an officer. Sergeants are well respected in the military (sometimes more than the officers) and making him a “new Joe” didn’t make sense. If he is a leader, how can he jump in with the already established team and try to take command. General Hawk could have been a stronger character, but in the movie’s defence, General Hawk wasn’t supposed to have much screen time. More scenes were added because Dennis Quaid did a good job as the General. The other Joes were so different from any previous versions, they were those characters in name only. Heavy Duty, Scarlett, Breaker and Ripcord really didn’t fit into the Joe universe, and that is probably the main reason they are not in Retaliation. On the Cobra side, I think the casting of Baroness, Destro, Rex/Cobra Commander and Zartan were perfect. And as far as Lee Byung-hun being cast as Storm Shadow… why isn’t he the next Jet Li/Jackie Chan/Chow Yun Fat? His protrayal of Storm Shadow was unbelievable.

Anthony: I feel like Lee Byung-hun is on his way. He’ll be in the sequel to RED as well. Like I said, a green Duke didn’t bother me, but I do scratch my head every time an adaptation refuses to acknowledge the Scarlett/Snake Eyes relationship. It was one of the best things about the comic but Hollywood keeps shying away from it.

The greatest crime of the movie is its length. You could easily cut the whole section in Paris (which also was the most ridiculous and asinine section) and not lose much of the narrative thread. The acceleration suits seem like they were designed by actual children and the wanton destruction is laughable at times. I also read somewhere that Rise of Cobra now holds the record for most broken glass in a movie (previously held by Another 48 Hours and The Blues Brothers).

Ed: I am good with the length of the movie. I would have cut out the training montage with Duke and Ripcord. There’s no reason for it to be in the movie. They were obviously trained soldiers, and if Hawk was ready to recruit Duke before, why do they have to go through all the hassle to be official Joes. I like the Paris section of the movie. The destruction of the Eiffel Tower is an epic scene from the movie. It is also the first mission with Duke and Ripcord as official Joes. I can take or leave the accelerator suits. If I can believe that Cobra is able to use Nano technology to make stronger and better soldiers, why can’t the Joes use a robotic suit to run really fast?

The one part of the movie that drives me nuts is Ripcord insisting that he is a good pilot. How can he jet qualify every time he is on leave? To then jump into the cockpit of a Night Raven and be able to fly at Mach 6 to take out intercontinental ballistic missiles. Plus the Night Raven doesn’t have fire controls in the cockpit, it is all by voice command? That was pushing the envelope too far. The only reason I can think of the Night Raven having voice fire controls is to show Scarlett is intelligent and only she would know the proper phrase to activate the weapons. They could have cut that part out, and made it more believable. Instead Scarlett comes off as a know-it-all, and the Night Raven has a lame weapons system.

Anthony: Those are pretty nit-picky things though that you’d need to know a lot about G.I. Joe or the Military in general to care about. Well except for the voice controls, everyone will agree those were stupid. For me while there were some misses I thought that in general the movie was a pretty good intro to the concepts and feel of the franchise. I’m looking forward to Retaliation. Final thoughts to you Ed.

Ed:  Rise of Cobra is a good introduction to G.I. Joe to the new viewer.  G.I. Joe has been around for 51 years so people have a basic idea that it is about a group of soldiers.  It was easily accessible to every one, and most of the characters back story was developed.  It could have been a bit better, but it could have been a hell of a lot worse.   I am excited for Retaliation.  It has been a very long road to Retaliation.  9 months has been a long time to wait, but we are now down to the final stretch, and this Thursday we will get to see the final product.  Many people I’ve talked to this week know that G.I. Joe 2 is coming out, and I think the addition of The Rock and Bruce Willis have a lot to do with it.  I can’t wait until the movie starts this March 28th.

Anthony Falcone
Anthony Falcone

Anthony Falcone is a freelance writer living in Toronto and he is the Ayatollah of Rocknrolla. You should definitely follow him on Twitter.

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11 years ago

The problem I had with this is movies is that the Joe’s can rival Team America for their total disregard for human life. The Train action scene? I would like to know the civilian death toll in this movie.

Thor Odinson
Thor Odinson
11 years ago

Chico, this movie was terrible in virtually every respect, and you’re seriously deluding yourself by saying otherwise. Which is odd because you and I have always had fairly similar taste in movies.

I’ll admit that this the sequel doesn’t look that bad though. Cautiously optimistic…but prepared to be horrified.