Monday, August 10, 2009

GI Joe The Rise of Cobra

GI Joe, an American hero. At least that is how I remember it growing up playing with the ever popular GI Joe toys. Most of us have heard stories about baseball cards or sporting cards of some sort being given away by parents; while I have some of those experiences, one that still stings is the giving away of the original GI Joe box of toys I had as a child. Being a child that cherished the American soldier, having family serve for generations I respected everything the early toy, comic, and concept represented. It was true to the respect due the fighting men and women who chose to wear the uniform of the American Soldier. GI Joe, if anything was an American loving, American soldier. My how times have changed!

Hasbro the company behind GI Joe has now ventured into the movie making business. This live action cartoon is just that, a cartoon. The direction has little if any character development and while we have enough special effects on screen to keep us somewhat entertained, it still falls far short. There are no exceptional sequences in the film, even in the special effects driven script. Unfortunately, there are so many holes in the plot that I quickly lost interest in the special effects driven scenes. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only problem with this flick. How bad was it? Let me say this, next to this summers other comic action flick, Transformers 2, Transformers 2 can be considered a modern day epic. At least there is a story in that movie we can follow to entertain us alongside the special effects. Now understand here, I consider Transformers 2 a sub par film that fell far short of its predecessor.

The story in GI Joe is quite simple, a group of soldiers, known as GI Joe (more on this later) have to save the world from some metal eating virus that is being used as a point of revenge to destroy the world and have the evil doers (a term I learned from a previous president) take control of the planet. This futuristic group of soldiers must save the planet, and mixed in is a sort of love story, buddy helping, get the bad guy scenario. At least that is as good as I can determine from this experience that had me enjoying the leather recliner I was sitting in more than the movie itself. Thank God the theater not only had the large recliner for me to sit in, but was also serving 32 OZ Blue Passions for $9.

One of the issues with GI Joe is we see such poor character development that we really don’t care about the characters we see on screen. This group of soldiers resembles the now popular concepts of a United Nations Force or NATO force more than they do the GI Joe many of us grew up with. In the heartland, in the middle of America, in a city with a fairly significant military base, many parents taking their children to see this movie will be largely disappointed. In fact, that appeared to be the case at the theater I attended. Despite the Military recruiters attending the movie, having their displays set up outside such as the hummers, climbing walls, pull-up bars, football throwing targets and more, there was nothing in the film that resembles the GI Joe most parents grew up with. For many, there would be no problem with that concept, except, the concept of the historical GI Joe is specifically American, and specifically a figure many around the world looked up to. There is nothing wrong with making the story contemporary, but I for one, even as a peace loving person of faith, had issue with the commercialization of a concept that detracts from real American Heroes who earned the name GI Joe. This movie, and contemporary concept, does nothing but steal the name and idea, and uses and transforms a part of history.

With the negative implied, it doesn’t mean there are no positive aspects of the movie. We see glimpses of meaningful components, from dedicated friendships to the power to forgive and realize mistakes are displayed. These are valuable traits in a world that at times seems to be more self driven. We see legitimate sacrifices for a greater cause and the realization that love can be eternal. Now despite my attack on the concept of I believe being disrespectful to the American Soldier, this movie does show value in the concept of being world citizens. I don’t have a problem with this concept; we live in a shrinking world and need to see others in a different way where acceptance and working together is illustrated. The problem I have is again, not in these concepts, but in the concept of totally ignoring the real history of GI Joe. There is also nothing wrong with being respectful and thankful for the sacrifices made by many GI Joes who experienced and lived a life that earned them that name.

It is likely very clear, I didn’t like this movie. It should also be clear why I didn’t like it. I guess for me there are some things that are just sort of spiritual, sort of requiring of respect. For me, while I have differing views regarding war, the military and so forth, I believe those individuals still deserve respect for their willingness to make sacrifice. Those types of characters have been around throughout history. Presenting GI Joe in the way Hasbro does in this film is catamount to portraying King David of the Bible as a Philistine. It just isn’t right! That isn’t the only reason I had issue with the movie though, it is just plane bad, and there are far better films of this nature. I would recommend one of them, or better yet rent a video. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the truth is the truth. I ended up spending $50 for those great seats for my wife and I, a meal, and a couple of drinks, talk about feeling ripped off? That said, proceed with caution.

On a scale of 1 – 10 for the 2 good recliners, and the one good drink I will give a very, very disappointing 3 for GI Joe.

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