Tuesday, August 17, 2010

G.I. Joe: The Movie

Even as a kid, I thought this movie was stupid. I still loved it, of course, and probably watched it about 800 times, but it was stupid. It was stupid then and it's stupid now. And while I wouldn't say it holds up, I still kind of enjoyed it. Kind of. Even after all these years, I still could recite every line of dialogue, remembered every action set piece, and loved seeing all of these characters again. But I was just as confused and put-off by the same odd story choices.

The biggest problem with this movie was the introduction of Cobra-La as the new threat. In the comics and cartoon, it was always (with a few exceptions), G.I. Joe against Cobra, a "terrorist organization determined to rule the world." But here, we see that Cobra was actually the pawns of Cobra-La, a 40,000 year old race of super-powered snake-people. Even Cobra Commander and Serpentor were retconned into being members of this other race. Too stupid, too weird, and too gross.

There was just no thrill in watching the Joes fight against flying snake people. I want to see Joes in battle against Cobra. Lasers should be firing back and forth, helicopters and jets blazing overhead, and vehicles exploding everything. Weird snake missiles and giant insects just felt and looked wrong. Also, the mythology presented here just doesn't make much sense. The Cobra-La civilization ruled the world until they collapsed after the latest ice age, and yet they live in the Tundra of the North Pole, so clearly ice isn't a problem for them. Also, they sent out Cobra Commander to start a terrorist army to destroy the Humans so Cobra-Law can retake the globe... but why send out only one guy when they all have superpowers, huge monsters, and advanced weapons?


Animation-wise, this film is nearly identical to the look of the TV series, which is a bit of a letdown considering what I imagine was a higher budget. This wasn't such a huge problem since the animation on the show was great, but the stuff in this movie ranges from awesome (the opening sequence for example) to awful (the finale of the film sucks). The voice acting is still awesome, with all of the fan-favorites returning from the series. Michael Bell's work as Duke is still amazing to hear. However, watching G.I. Joe with an adult ear made it pretty clear that there are only about five or six guys doing to voices of everything, but they're all great.

I guess they blew their budget on hiring Don Johnson as Lt Falcon. Don Johnson is a wonderful actor, and as hard to believe as it may seem, at the time he was a huge star. But his performance here is terrible. To begin with, Falcon was a poorly written character who was introduced in the film and became the main character (which is weird because we didn't know he was or care about his growth from insubordinate ass to hero) and Don Johnson's flat performance did nothing to help him stand out. Falcon sucks. Even stranger was how they made him Duke's "half brother," even though he was clearly meant to be Hawk's son. He looks exactly like Hawk, wears the same color-scheme as Hawk, and even has the name Falcon! So why did they change that? Whatever.

Another change they made for the worse was how they handled Duke's "death." Duke took a snake-arrow (like I said: stupid) to the heart, had an awesome death scene ("Yo...... joe...."), and then died. They later threw in a line (spoken off-camera) about how he "went into a coma." They did this because the Transformers film came out at the same time and created a controversy when Optimus Prime died. As a fan of the character, I'm happy that Duke got saved and lived on to fight another day, but it was still oddly handled. At the end, you hear a voice on the radio say something about how Duke awoke from his coma and will be fine. Even as a kid, I thought that was a cop-out.

At the end of the day, I still like this movie because I love the original characters, think much of the animation is great, and Burgess Meredith's performance as main Cobra-La villain Golobulous (don't ask) is awesome. But as a film, it doesn't really hold together or offer much that can't be found already in the TV series. The entire concept works better as a series if only because each character is allowed to have their moments in episodes that revolved around their personalities and storylines. The film had to have one story that shoe-horned in every character, whether or not they had anything to do. Every character is inter-changeable and pointless, except for Falcon who sucks.

Anyway, here's the best part of the movie:


Justin Garrett Blum said...

This is probably the best review of G.I. Joe: The Movie ever written. Then again, I haven't read any other reviews of G.I. Joe: The Movie.

My take on this was that the writers all did a shitload of drugs.

Donald said...

I forgot to mention this in my review, but the DVD commentary was by one of the writers of the film. It was mostly forgettable, with long periods of complete silence broken only by comments like, "I never understood why they gave her that haircut" or "this sequence didn't work as well as I hoped when I wrote it."

Also, he kept referring to the Dreadnaughts as "The Drealocks." So who knows, man.

Justin Garrett Blum said...

That's the result of a lifetime of frying your brain on LSD, I guess.