Foreign Policy

G.I. Jingo!

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is unconvincing imperial American propaganda.

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One of the special effects set-pieces in the middle of G. I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra involves a terrorist attack in a major city upon one of the most famous buildings in the world. Said building is struck in its center, and then catastrophically collapses, killing, presumably, thousands.  The whole scenario is played, not for pathos or drama, but for slam-bang action thrills; the fall of the building is greeted with a surprised disappointment that actually verges on joviality.

Granted, it's been a few years now since the 9/11 attacks. Still, you wouldn't think you could get away with gratuitously digging up its memory, pissing on it, and then filming the results. And yet, G.I. Joe does exactly that, and, honestly, it doesn't even seem all that offensive.  Partially the film manages this because the world city in question is Paris, and the building is the Eiffel Tower. Dead Americans are tragic, dead Arabs are un-P.C., but dead Frenchmen? That's funny.

Even beyond the natural amusement value of massacred Parisians, however, G.I. Joe avoids potential controversy through a bland stupidity so determined that it almost seems like insouciance. One tragic backstory substituting for characterization is irritating, but more or less what I expect from Hollywood.  But…two? Four?  With at least a couple of them not even interconnected? That really starts to look like parodic bravado last seen in Team America. As, for that matter, does the choice of human mannequin Channing Tatum to play a character based on a toy. Fill in your own "responsive as a hunk of plastic" joke here.

The really impressive bit, though, involves not the characters, but the geopolitics. You'd think, with a name like G.I. Joe, that this movie might be about American military heroes kicking ass, taking names, waving the flag for truth and freedom.  But, apparently, that was considered too retro. Or perhaps the creators just figured that nobody really wants to think about the handful of wars we've actually got going. So, instead, the G.I. Joes in this movie are a kind of elite force drawing the best from all over the world. Like Star Trek, but with a higher body count.

The thing about Star Trek, of course, was that its creator Gene Rodenberry actually had a vision; he was a liberal One Worlder, praying for the Cold War to end and the UN to take over. Joe Director Stephen Sommers has a vision of a sort, too, but it's less UN and more aphasiac American hegemony.  Sometime, in the near future, the movie posits that soldiers from every nation will gladly leave their home countries to serve in a "multi-national" force named after American soldiers, led by an American general, and apparently answering more-or-less to the American president (who personally works to get the Joes out of jail after that whole destroying Paris thing.  Silly excitable French people.)

Even those formerly troublesome Middle Eastern countries appear to be on board; Egypt, at least, allows the Joes to build their secret base under its territory. Of course, the base is targeted by the bad guys, resulting in violation of airspace, massive destruction, and the death of the one actual Egyptian we ever see (he's leading a camel, naturally.) But really, who wouldn't trade all their sovereignty in a second for the adrenaline rush of hearing some random foreign national stand tall on your land and shout "Good luck, Joes!"

This knee-jerk deference to all things American isn't just a transient, incidental bonus.  It's integral to what I suppose we must refer to as the plot.  The evil arms dealer McCullen—clearly labeled with a safely uncontroversial ethnicity—builds his entire plan around the presumption that if several major cities are blown up, everyone on earth will instantly rally to support the American president. The world loves a strong leader, McCullen figures, and in this near future, America is strong, rather than, I don't know, crushed by debt, or involved in various disastrous military ventures. Nor indeed, is American predominance threatened by China, a country which is conspicuously ignored throughout the film. Instead, when McCullen has an extra missile to play around with, he points it at Moscow, of all places. I guess he didn't get the memo that the Cold War is over and nobody cares about Russia anymore.

The movie ends with the requisite flurry of twisty surprise identity flips. The evil villainess is actually good! The goody-goody dead pal is alive and evil! American president: replaced by scheming twin double! Though it's hard to tell the difference, honestly. Good or bad, everyone seems indifferent to killing large numbers of civilians, and everyone loves America, or at least American-led coalitions.  But, really, I shouldn't kick. If I'm to have American imperial propaganda, I couldn't ask for it to be any more shoddily made or any more unconvincing than this.

Noah Berlatsky is a Chicago-based writer whose work appears in Comics Journal, The Chicago Reader, and other outlets. He blogs at The Hooded Utilitarian.

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  1. This is the only review that made me think the movie might be ok. Sounded like post-American stuff everywhere else. Now, its obviously a lousy movie but the premise of the review that people being glad America is around when troubl shows up is hooey is not borne out by actual events, see WWII, the Balkans, Indonesian Tsunami etc..

  2. Thanks for the spoilers, jerk.

  3. I didn’t think anyone could care about having “G.I. JOE” spoiled for them. It’s like complaining about being told the ending to “Catwoman.”

  4. Snake Eyes is the only reason I want to see this movie.

  5. Thanks for the spoilers, jerk.

    See. That’s why I NEVER RTFA’s.

  6. Brotherben, you fool!!! How will you learn to impress people with your killer moves with the kung fu grip if you don’t RTFA on G.I. Joe?

  7. As this is obviously supposed to be an action movie themed weekend open thread, I shall post my recent action movie reviews for your (brief) reading pleasure.

    Extreme Prejudice. Extremely enjoyable Water Hill 80’s action flick. Kind of a modern western. Nick Nolte and Powers Boothe are great value. The whole CIA/special forces sub plot doesn’t make much sense (John Millius script), and the end doesn’t live up to the excellent first hour. 8/10.

    Driver
    . Another Walter Hill flick. Not bad, definitely watchable, under-developed story. Good car chases. 7/10.

    Southern Comfort.
    Yet more Walter Hill … Louisiana national guard jack-offs get on the wrong side of the local mutants in the bayou. Powers Boothe and Keith Carradine are sympathetic, but the rest of the retards deserve to die. Pretty average. 6.5/10.

    Taken. Bloody good fun. Swarthy scumbags get slaughtered by Liam Neeson in super soldier mode. Neeson is awesome and is a ruthless bastard. Love it when he shoots the innocent woman in the arm. Plot is ridiculous etc. It’s basically the greatest Steven Seagal movie you could ever imagine, but with a good actor kicking ass. And his habit of cutting people off mid-sentence by shooting them in the head f*cking rules. 8.5/10.

    Punisher: War Zone. Despite the shitty plot, characters, etc etc etc there is some enjoyable slaughter of bad guys to be had here. 5/10.

    BTW, can someone please cast Charlyne Yi as asian peasant who gets decapitated by a Barrett M107 0.50 cal snipers rifle in the next Rambo film. That is all.

  8. Go ahead. Make me the scape-goat. My loyal subordinates could testify to my superb stewardship of Cobra. But you don’t have the courage to let them speak!

  9. I hear that “Rambo 5” is going to take place in Mexico, so it looks like your wish about Charlyne Yi will have to wait…unless he can double as a Mexican.

  10. I hear that “Rambo 5” is going to take place in Mexico, so it looks like your wish about Charlyne Yi will have to wait…unless he can double as a Mexican.

    Bodes well for the decapitations though. 🙂

  11. Shit, I didn’t realize Charlyne Yi was a she!

  12. Naga Sadow, methinks you misunderestimate the my ‘batin wisdom and mad skilz with my kung-fu grip:}

  13. I’ll take ‘Joes’ over the UN blue-helmet mass-murder abetting pansies.

  14. There’s a little gun shop nearby with a Barret .50 for sale. I’m thinking it might be fun to have when we move back out west in a couple years.

  15. brotherben,

    What? No accelerater suit? Disappointed.

  16. After watching the trailer for this movie, it took my brain almost FIVE seconds to realize it was completely retarded.
    Sadly, the trailer for Transformers 2 masked it’s stupidity and I wasted 10 bucks on it. How can Orion’s belt point to anything if it’s constantly moving?

  17. Naga Sadow, sadly, they don’t make em in XXfat that only move left.

  18. brotherben,

    Well try a diet rich in meth. I hear the pounds just melt away.

  19. Naga Sadow. Ummm. No.
    Meth is not made from organic ingredients. Shrooms, in small quantities, turn me into Speedy Gonzales. (STFU Whackalone) Totally Organic Too.

  20. Wow, that review was as generic and knee-jerk as anything that I’d expect from the VILLAGE VOICE! Keep up the mediocre work!

  21. Feh.

    Why anyone would want to see a movie about a gastrointestinal parasite, I’ll never understand.

  22. dbcooper,

    Absolutely agree on the last two. Both pretty good movies, though Taken is better.

    OTOH Punisher lets us see Titus Pullo again, and was clearly rated down for being non-PC. An underrated movie imo.

    pantera,

    FFS, what did you expect? It’s a movie about giant transforming robots.

  23. “I hear that “Rambo 5″ is going to take place in Mexico”

    Boy, Lonewacko must love the possibilities there…

  24. MNG, I wonder if a buncha ‘Mericans went down to shoot the movie and took jobs from the Metsicans?

  25. “Partially the film manages this because the world city in question is Paris, and the building is the Eiffel Tower. Dead Americans are tragic, dead Arabs are un-P.C., but dead Frenchmen? That’s funny.”

    Why am I reminded of “Team America: World Police”?

  26. “That really starts to look like parodic bravado last seen in Team America. As, for that matter, does the choice of human mannequin ”

    Good, I am not the only one

  27. America, Fuck Yeah!!

  28. “builds his entire plan around the presumption that if several major cities are blown up, everyone on earth will instantly rally to support the American president.”

    War is the health of the state.

  29. “If I’m to have American imperial propaganda, I couldn’t ask for it to be any more shoddily made or any more unconvincing than this.”

    This movie sounds almost as cheesy as the Underworld vampire series.

  30. “I’ll take ‘Joes’ over the UN blue-helmet mass-murder abetting pansies.” –

    they’re not pansies, they rape people.
    that’s so macho cool.
    i love the UN.

  31. Southern Comfort. Yet more Walter Hill … Louisiana national guard jack-offs get on the wrong side of the local mutants in the bayou. Powers Boothe and Keith Carradine are sympathetic, but the rest of the retards deserve to die. Pretty average. 6.5/10.

    Fuck that. Southern Comfort is an easy 9/10.The ending is intense.
    Best “bargain DVD” action movie I’ve seen since Ronin

  32. “Why does Barbie have red tits?”

    “‘Cause G.I. Joe has kung-fu grip”

  33. Will you see
    this G.I. Joe?

    I will not see
    this G.I. Joe
    I will not watch it
    This I know.

    Would you watch it
    Here or there?

    I would not watch it
    here or there.
    I would not watch it
    anywhere.
    I do not like
    this G.I. Joe.
    I will not watch it,
    This I know.

    Would you watch it
    in a house?
    Would you view it
    with a mouse?

    I will not watch this
    in a house
    I will not view it
    with a mouse.
    I will not watch this
    here or there.
    I will not view it
    anywhere.
    I do not like this G.I. Joe.
    I will not watch it
    This I know.

    Would you watch it
    in a box?
    Would you watch it
    with a fox?

    Not in a box.
    Not with a fox.
    Not in a house.
    Not with a mouse.
    I will not watch this here or there.
    I will not view this anywhere.
    I would not watch this G.I. Joe
    I will not view it,
    This I know.

    Would you? Could you?
    in a car?
    Watch it! View it!
    With the star.

    I would not,
    could not,
    in a car
    I will not
    view it
    with the star.

    You may like it.
    You will see.
    You may like it
    in a tree?

    I would not, could not in a tree.
    Not in a car! You let me be.

    I will not watch it in a box.
    I will not view it with a fox
    I will not watch it in a house
    I will not view it with a mouse
    I will not watch it here or there.
    I will not view it this anywhere.
    I will not watch this G.I. Joe
    I will not like it, this I know.

    A train! A train!
    A train! A train!
    Could you, would you
    on a train?

    Not on a train! Not in a tree!
    Not in a car! Sam! Let me be!
    I would not, could not, in a box.
    I could not, would not, with a fox.
    I will not watch it with a mouse
    I will not view it in a house.
    I will not watch it here or there.
    I will not view it anywhere.
    I do not like
    this G.I. Joe.
    I will not see it
    This I know

    Say!
    In the dark?
    Here in the dark!
    Would you, could you, in the dark?

    I would not, could not,
    in the dark.

    Would you, could you,
    in the rain?

    I would not, could not, in the rain.
    Not in the dark. Not on a train,
    Not in a car, Not in a tree.
    I will no watch this, Sam, you see.
    Not in a house. Not in a box.
    Not with a mouse. Not with a fox.
    I will not watch this here or there.
    I will not watch thia anywhere!

    You do not like
    This G.I. Joe?

    I will not
    watch it,
    This I know.

    Could you, would you,
    with a goat?

    I would not,
    could not.
    with a goat!

    Would you, could you,
    on a boat?

    I could not, would not, on a boat.
    I will not, will not, with a goat.
    I will not watch it in the rain.
    I will not view it on a train.
    Not in the dark! Not in a tree!
    Not in a car! You let me be!
    I will not watch it in a box.
    I will not view it with a fox.
    I will not watch it in a house.
    I will not view it with a mouse.
    I will not watch this here or there
    I will not view it ANYWHERE!

    I will not watch this piece of shit!
    I will not view this, you little twit.

    You will not it.
    SO you say.
    Watch it! View it!
    If you may.
    See it through,
    I’ll go away.

    Douche!
    If you will let me be,
    I will watch it.
    You will see.

    Say!
    I hate this movie, G.I. Joe
    You made me view it, this I know.
    I sucks a weenie so says I
    And now it’s time
    For you to die!

  34. Fuck that. Southern Comfort is an easy 9/10.The ending is intense.

    True, the ending was good. Had a spot of the ‘flu when I was watching it, which may have tempered my enjoyment.

  35. pantera | August 8, 2009, 2:48pm | #
    After watching the trailer for this movie, it took my brain almost FIVE seconds to realize it was completely retarded.

    You must be slow on the uptake. The title told me that.

  36. You know? Lots of big words and some spoilers does NOT make for a good article. You obviously don’t appreciate a popcorn flick. Stick to your Woody Allen movies you goofball…

  37. The thing about Star Trek, of course, was that its creator Gene Rodenberry actually had a vision; he was a liberal One Worlder, praying for the Cold War to end and the UN to take over. Joe Director Stephen Sommers has a vision of a sort, too, but it’s less UN and more aphasiac American hegemony.

    Why is the UN taking over the world good and the US taking over the world bad?
    Wouldn’t a one world order be bad in either case?

  38. it took my brain almost FIVE seconds to realize it was completely retarded.

    Pretty damn quick for a retard IMO.

  39. It’s GI Joe. I’m gonna go see it. It has guns and shit going boom. Like Transformers it is going to leave me pissed off and ready to strangle a small furry creature, but I have to go.

    Bumblebee is not a fucking Camero. I’m just sayin’

  40. hmm. when you get that worked up, reach for poultry. It is a calmative.

  41. Are you telling me to choke my chicken?

  42. I will say this about G.I. Joe: It’s better than Transformers. As for Berlatsky’s analysis, he obviously didn’t pick up on the fact that one of the three missiles at the end was aimed at Beijing. So, China is just as much as target as Moscow. And if you don’t think the film’s ending is slyly subversive of the whole idea of trusting American power, you must have stepped out to get some Raisinettes.

  43. first comic strip i read

    so I’ll be watchin just for the nostalgia

    and the inevitable chick in latex

  44. Somebody might want to tell the Georgians and Ukranians that since the Soviets lost the cold war Russia doesn’t matter anymore. Yep, just slowly fading away…

  45. I always get a kick out of reading movie reviews, because it’s fun to try and figure out exactly how much of the reviewers psychosis are being projected into the movie they’re watching. This one is a doozy.

  46. Just keep telling yourself: It’s only a movie!

  47. J sub D, you remain one of my favorite posters here. “Green GI Joe and Ham” was brilliant.

    Thanks.

    .. Hobbit

  48. Well, I think we all can agree that Sienna Miller looks thermonuclear with the dark hair and the glasses. She has sort of a Sarah Palin dominatrix thing going on. Lord knows she’s easier to look at than the plot or the CG effects.

  49. Naga Sadow, sadly, they don’t make em in XXfat that only move left.

    I smell a frivolous lawsuit!

  50. God damn it….Just make a snake eyes movie already. All the other joes suck anyway.

    My proof?

    Bazooka

    and that is all that needs to be said

  51. Is Dr. Mindbender at least cool in the film?

  52. So what would be convincing imperial American propaganda?

  53. “You know? Lots of big words and some spoilers does NOT make for a good article. You obviously don’t appreciate a popcorn flick. Stick to your Woody Allen movies you goofball…”

    You can tell a great comment when it uses all caps though. And the words “popcorn flick.” Also “Woody Allen.” I bet you cut and paste this comment when replying to all the reviews, don’t you?

    “As for Berlatsky’s analysis, he obviously didn’t pick up on the fact that one of the three missiles at the end was aimed at Beijing. So, China is just as much as target as Moscow. And if you don’t think the film’s ending is slyly subversive of the whole idea of trusting American power, you must have stepped out to get some Raisinettes.”

    Thank God someone was paying such rapt attention to the clever plot. I guess it is slyly subversive to suggest that the American president has been replaced by an evil clone, because, it’s like, a metaphor for…birther propaganda? Help me out, here.

    “Well, I think we all can agree that Sienna Miller looks thermonuclear with the dark hair and the glasses.”

    Even this sort of disappointed. Her acting was so thoroughly lousy that it kept distracting me from the movie’s only charm.

    “Why is the UN taking over the world good and the US taking over the world bad?”

    It’s the same thing.

    “Is Dr. Mindbender at least cool in the film?”

    Nothing in the film is cool, no.

    “Thanks for the spoilers, jerk.”

    You’re welcome.

  54. So what would be convincing imperial American propaganda?

    The last Rambo, even though I’m pretty sure it mirrored the plot to Casablanca.

    Nothing in the film is cool, no.

    Damn. And I really liked the cast. And that character name.

  55. Well, this is why I like the internet, though. It’s unlikely that the author of a print article would respond directly to the comments on his or her article.

  56. Oh yeah, you hit it on the head this time for sure!

    RT
    http://www.anon-web-tools.net.tc

  57. “So what would be convincing imperial American propaganda?”

    Rudyard Kipling’s imperial propaganda is fairly convincing, as these things go. More recently, the James Bond films make a good case (or at least a coherent one) for having the British take care of the world.

    “It’s unlikely that the author of a print article would respond directly to the comments on his or her article.”

    Though I could just be a clone….

  58. “As for Berlatsky’s analysis, he obviously didn’t pick up on the fact that one of the three missiles at the end was aimed at Beijing. So, China is just as much as target as Moscow. And if you don’t think the film’s ending is slyly subversive of the whole idea of trusting American power, you must have stepped out to get some Raisinettes.”

    Thank God someone was paying such rapt attention to the clever plot.”

    Because heaven knows that asking Berlatsky to do something as hard as remember where the third missile is pointed is completely unreasonable; big number, there, three. One, too, many….

    “I guess it is slyly subversive to suggest that the American president has been replaced by an evil clone, because, it’s like, a metaphor for…birther propaganda? Help me out, here.”

    No moreso than the Manchurian Candidate was, no; this really is too hard for you, isn’t it?

  59. Well, this is why I like the internet, though. It’s unlikely that the author of a print article would respond directly to the comments on his or her article.

    A conundrum isn’t it . . .

  60. It’s like complaining about being told the ending to “Catwoman.”

    Anyone who makes it to the end of that MTV video deserves a medal. Or is very easy to please. Or is a retard.

  61. I was dragged to the movie yesterday and I’m here to tell you that, politics aside, it just sucks, as you might expect from a movie based on a toy.

    Except for the woman who plays Scarlett (who also played the Orion girl who was Uhura’s roommate in the Star Trek reboot). Truly world-class tits.

  62. ransom147 | August 8, 2009, 3:50pm | #
    “I’ll take ‘Joes’ over the UN blue-helmet mass-murder abetting pansies.” –

    they’re not pansies, they rape people.
    that’s so macho cool.
    i love the UN.

    Little boys, specifically; they rape little boys. They’re mass-murder abetting pederast pansies.

  63. My name was supposed to be Nazilla vs. the “un” by the way; Idiocracy reference; somehow everything in quotes got dropped.

  64. “Because heaven knows that asking Berlatsky to do something as hard as remember where the third missile is pointed is completely unreasonable; big number, there, three. One, too, many….”

    But…why are you memorizing where the missiles are pointing, is the question? Who cares? So great, they remembered that China existed. Yay for them. I guess that means the movie didn’t suck after all.

    “No moreso than the Manchurian Candidate was, no; this really is too hard for you, isn’t it?”

    But the Manchurian Candidate is cold war paranoia; not slyly subversive, maybe, but at least it’s about something. The twisty end of G. I. Joe is just there because Hollywood likes twisty ends; it’s not intended to call American power into question, as far as I can tell. In fact, since bad guys and good guys alike are happy with a strong America leading the world, it’s unclear why it matters practically whether the president is good or evil.

    “Anyone who makes it to the end of that MTV video deserves a medal. Or is very easy to please. Or is a retard.”

    Some of us were paid, which helped…but, yeah, not really enough.

    Also, I think you’re being overly harsh to MTV videos in comparing them to this movie.

  65. Noah, you apparently can’t count to three, and you failed to notice that the bad guys actually win in the end. Give it up.

  66. I expected to not like the movie, as I generally am not big into action films, but I actually enjoyed it. The love subplot was goofy as hell, but other than that, I had a good time.

    I hardly saw the politics as proselytizing; they were just there, part of the story. The various particular nationalities were greatly inconsequential. Nobody came out of the theater discussing politics, and although that might be a sign of well-crafted propaganda, it is also the sign of non-propaganda. Anyhow, that’s just my two cents.

    “MTV videos” no longer exist, by the way.

  67. Noah Berlatsky quite obviously has no knowledge of the canon behind this movie. If he did he would realize that the canon G.I. Joe is an elite secret organization of good guys who are working hard to save humanity from the evil terrorist organization Cobra. If it sounds like cartoon simplicity, well, that is because the canon consists of a cartoon TV show, a comic book and and line of action figures.

    I suggest treating G.I. Joe as seriously as it deserves to be treated; basically not at all. It is shallow entertainment.

  68. Remember Zartan? Is he in the movie? He changed colors in the sun and went crazy in battle. You needed to send in proofs of purchase to buy him, but sadly he was pulled from the market because he offended crazy people. I think he was Australian…….

  69. The twisty end of G. I. Joe is just there because Hollywood likes twisty ends; it’s not intended to call American power into question, as far as I can tell.

    That’s exactly what is subversive about it. It’s not actually a twist ending in the traditional sense; it just looks like one. The ending was the plan all along. G.I. Joe actually failed. That’s more than just the typical “oh, look, the bad guy secretly escaped to fight another day” twist ending. The terrorists win, and no one is the wiser.

  70. Agree with dbcooper on Taken. There’s at least a couple moments where it seems a villain is about to monologue and Liam just takes them out.

    Fat Sheik Evil Guy: “We can make a…”
    Liam Neeson’s Gun: BANG!
    Me: Sweet!

    G.I. Joe sounds like a Netflix rental based purely on the the boner inducing prowess of Sienna Miller as The Baroness. Anyone taken a reading with their, um, probe?

    (reads further) Ah!

    Well, I think we all can agree that Sienna Miller looks thermonuclear with the dark hair and the glasses. She has sort of a Sarah Palin dominatrix thing going on.

    As much as I hate Palin, this dippy country deserves her, so I’d love to run her presidential bid to victory. Black leather outfits, boots and a whip would only be the start.

    Noah Berlatsky quite obviously has no knowledge of the canon behind this movie.

    That’s considered a good, healthy thing in many circles. I’m guessing he also can’t name more than one spell taught at Hogworts or the evolved form of a Pikachu.

  71. I grew up with G.I. Joe, both the toy and the comic book. (Never much cared for the cartoon.) Having the action figures there with me helped me during several long lonely stays at Johns Hopkins Hospital while undergoing open heart surgery. This may sound sappy, but I really wanted to be a G.I. Joe.

    And while Mr. Bertlasky’s review is both factually incorrect, reads far too much into the geo-political commentary of the film and reminiscent of the pretentious “If it’s not boring, foreign or starring Sean Penn then it’s crap.” attitude that pervades the current community of movie critics; his overall opinion is sound. This movie sucks!

    I have been literally waiting over twenty years for a live-action G.I. Joe movie. Pathetic, Yes, but if it has taken this long to do you would thing it’d be done right. Well it wasn’t. Not only were the back stories of pretty much all the major characters mangled beyond recognition, but the CGI looked like it came out of a made for SciFi Channel Saturday Night movie.

    I thought Transforms(both movies) were fun, but I guess that’s because I didn’t have the emotional attachment to them that I have to G.I. Joe. This movie had a bad plot, bad acting, bad special effects, and even Scarlett wasn’t a natural red-head. Perhaps Sommers is actually Zartan.

    Benjamin

  72. “But…why are you memorizing where the missiles are pointing, is the question?”

    No, that’s really not the question. How could a so-called reviewer forget such a basic and important plot point, and then complain about it’s lack? That’s a good question.

    “Who cares? So great, they remembered that China existed. Yay for them. I guess that means the movie didn’t suck after all.”

    No, that’s not what it means. It does mean, of course, in that specific case, that you sucked much worse than they did; but these clear intellectual superiors of yours had arctic ice raining down through arctic salt water ocean. Hint: ice is lighter than water. It’s not that they aren’t egregious morons, it’s just that you’re worse.

    Also, Scarlet was definitely a redeeming feature, wooo.

  73. @Scott

    So you judge a person’s entire intellect based on their remembering one minor plot point in a dumb movie. Wow. Just fucking wow. Could you be a bigger loser?

  74. I just saw the film… And was interviewed by Reuters afterwards, fwiw… which isn’t much. But here are a few choice moments:

    1. Oh my god. [deadpan] *BOOOM!* when an expendable helicopter pilot dies, apparently not concerned enough for his own life (or the actor’s career) to muster up some enthusiasm.

    2. They had to “weaponize” a warhead in order for it to work. Not that it wasn’t a weapon already, or had a clearly labeled activation switch… no… they had to re-“weaponize” it. WTF.

    3. “The more you know”.

    4. The main villain is a…. “Businessman”!?? No! I don’t believe it! He even makes it a point to make the ubiquitous line: “I’m a businessman”…ugh!

    Arms-dealers, of course, are the ones who start wars, send thousands of troops to die and cause the deaths of many more thousands of civilians. It’s not you know… Presidents or anything like that. *Shock*

    5. Polar ice… umm… sinks?

    That’s right kids. Oh, and General Hawk was a well-quaffed & ineffectual pussy. Made me sad.

  75. I normally can’t stand yahoos who proclaim, “Relax, it’s just a movie, dude,” but in this case, I have to join the chorus against Mr. Berlatsky. Seriously, you’re applying a level of critical analysis to movie that doesn’t warrant it. Do you also look for geopolitical subtext in “G-Force” or “Honey I Blew Up the Kids”? Because G. I. Joe has no aspirations beyond those films.

    I haven’t seen the film, but here’s an example of a review that takes the film at it’s own merits: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/escape-to-the-movies/866-G-I-Joe-The-Rise-of-Cobra . Some choice quotes:

    “The only things missing from any of the action scenes are the omnipotent hands of a massive kindergartener moving all the players around and a booming voice sagely intoning ‘Batteries not included’.”

    “It understands there are basically two audiences for a movie like G. I. Joe: Seven-year-old kids, and guys in their late 20s who remember being seven-year-old kids.”

    “An exuberant romanticism of nationalism and the armed services, in the form of a narrative infomercial, primarily designed to encourage the conspicuous consumption of mass-produced plastic playthings by impressionable children, it almost always plays out as something that was designed to give an aneurysm to Howard Zinn.”

    And he liked it: “I’ll say it upfront: G.I. Joe is a better James Bond movie than the last twelve James Bond movies.”

    His review touches on the geopolitics, for one or two sentences, but that’s how much should be applied to a feature-length toy commercial.

  76. “I normally can’t stand yahoos who proclaim, “Relax, it’s just a movie, dude,” but in this case, I have to join the chorus against Mr. Berlatsky. Seriously, you’re applying a level of critical analysis to movie that doesn’t warrant it”

    I’m taking it too seriously because I make jokes about massacring the French and suggest that the film is such an egregious piece of crap that it’s imperialist overtones are for the best? Are you sure you’re reading the review I wrote?

    I guess some people feel like if something is really bad, then it doesn’t mean anything. I don’t get that; it seems to me like political or philosophical meaning and aesthetic quality are actually fairly independent variables. Little Nemo, for example…one of the greatest comics ever, with (I’d argue) very little in the way of political meaning to speak of. Star Trek, on the other hand; fairly mediocre, (especially after the first series) but lots of (fairly obvious) political and social content. So the argument that G.I. Joe is really stupid and based on toy commercials, and therefore it must not have any political content — I don’t really see how the second bit follows from the first.

    (I talk about little Nemo here if anyone’s interested:
    http://hoodedutilitarian.blogspot.com/2008/08/butt-of-dream.html.)

    But, hey, it’s just a review. If you didn’t like it, more power to you. Maybe the next one will be more to your taste, presuming I’m lucky enough to get a chance to write one.

    I do have to say, though…the last couple James Bond films were superior to this one in every way…including cheesecake. Those movies were filled with women who put Sienna Miller to shame.

    ” I’m guessing he also can’t name more than one spell taught at Hogworts or the evolved form of a Pikachu.”

    It’s true! I don’t know either of these things. I do know a fair amount of useless comic book trivia, though. (What super-heroes live on Earth C?)

  77. “”If it’s not boring, foreign or starring Sean Penn then it’s crap.”

    But…I hate Sean Penn movies.

    Believe me, all this movie had to do was to be as good as Tomb Raider, and I would have been happy.

  78. The idea of examining at the jingoistic properties of G.I Joe is a ridiculous at the movie itself.

  79. Believe me, all this movie had to do was to be as good as Tomb Raider, and I would have been happy.

    Ouch. I hated Tomb Raider.

  80. “G.I. Jingo-G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is unconvincing imperial American propaganda.”

    “This knee-jerk deference to all things American isn’t just a transient, incidental bonus.”

    Shit, I must have gotten wasted and gone to http://www.motherjones.com again.

  81. Christ, is it possible, at all, for a movie to portray soldiers as something other than the redneck, undereducated, teenage girl-raping, baby killing, bloodthirsty carpet bombers they obviously are without someone using jingo or jingoism or some other similar word in a fucking review?

  82. And Southern Comfort totally fucking rocks. I remember when that movie first came to the premium cable channels over 20 years ago and they fucking showed it more often than TBS plays “Roadhouse”.

  83. Just saw the movie. It is a action packed thriller with fully developed characters and a strong, unpredictable plot….for cinema goers with braim danage….for anyone with 85+ IQ it sucks.
    No attention to detail at all, in the dramatic finale ice sinks rather than floats, but the producer was too focused on FX to put any effort toward quality.
    BTW…Noah Berlatsky review sucked worse than the movie

  84. B,

    I don’t really think it’s supposed to be a realistic war movie. And I don’t even mean magical realism like Apocalypse Now or Catch-22 (well, the book had magical realist moments, but I don’t remember if the movie did as much).

    How was The Hurt Locker, BTW? I haven’t had the opportunity to see it yet.

    Frankly, I think Hollywood portrays servicemembers fairly, most of the time (based on what I’ve seen). I’d recommend Jarhead or The Lucky Ones as far as fairly recently made “war” movies.

  85. Mr Berlatsky:

    I didn’t really have a problem with the conclusions you reached in your review, and I don’t believe in giving shitty movies a pass because they try to be shitty. But I reallyl don’t see how G.I. Joe is the kind of movie that warrants this analysis.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is: It’s G.I. Joe. Was there any way for them to have made the movie and not have it be a jingo-fest? G.I. Joe? It ends up sounding like your review is critiquing the IDEA of a Joe movie, rather than the movie itself; your review would have applied to any Joe movie that was passingly familiar to the source material, regardless of quality, nuance or director.

    Sure, someone could have made a more savvy action thriller that had something to say, but why would you call it G.I. Joe?

  86. Who cares if the movie ignores the rise of China. ITS A MOVIE BASED OF A FRIGGING COMIC BOOK. Stop reading into it for what it isnt.

    Reviewers did the same nonsense with transformers which was another comic book based movie. T2 was based on hot chicks and GIANT robots.

    GI JOe is apparently based on explosions and who knows what else. If you dont like it fine but its not valid to say that it ignores aspects of history when its a summer popcorn movie not schindlers list.

  87. Hold on, the Eiffel Tower falls into the Seine and thousands of frogs die?

    Error. It’s a few tourists and a couple of Bateaux Mouches that bite the bullet.

    Two fifty dead. Tops.

  88. “Noah Berlatsky quite obviously has no knowledge of the canon behind this movie.”

    Remember your great-grandfather, the one that worked to build the railroads and raised 8 children in a cabin? He just read this line from beyond the grave and wept at the kind of man you are.

  89. It’s GI Joe (AKA THE REAL AMERICAN HERO), four fox ache. What did you fucking expect, Citizen Kane? Did you really expect it NOT to be “America, Fuck Yeah”? It’s a stupid, “turn off mind and enjoy” kind of film, not a geo-political statment a la Syriana. Look at the source material… WITHOUT the nostalgia glazed filter. It was a simple “good-guys stop bad-guys plan, bad-guys slip away to return next week” toy commercial. Why does the movie need to be anylized any more critically?

  90. As much as I hate Palin, this dippy country deserves her, so I’d love to run her presidential bid to victory. Black leather outfits, boots and a whip would only be the start.

    She’d win in a landslide.

  91. It’s a fun romp. They even worked in “Knowing is half the battle!”

    Also, Syriana was extremely stupid.

  92. Class: Team America; World Police versus G.I. Joe; Rise of Cobra…compare and contrast. You have 45 minutes and may use up to 2 blue books.

  93. This is a movie based on a comic book series. I read the comic books as a kid. They were cheesy then, the movie’s cheesy now. It’s an action flick, not a Michael Moore bizarro movie.

  94. Hey ART,

    The Hurt Locker – fantastic film. One of the best I’ve seen this year. I would suggest checking it out asap.

  95. “Who cares if the movie ignores the rise of China. ITS A MOVIE BASED OF A FRIGGING COMIC BOOK. ”

    Dark Knight was based on a comic book. I’m not a big fan of that movie either, but it was pretty canny in the way it used politics and morality.

    “Was there any way for them to have made the movie and not have it be a jingo-fest? G.I. Joe?”

    It was always going to be a jingo-fest, of course. But just because you’re pro-American doesn’t mean you have to be stupid. They could have dealt with terrorism, or anti-American sentiment, or even the rise of China in a clever way (or a marginally more clever way) — again, just as Dark Knight, or the last couple of James Bond films manage to be action shoot em ups while retaining a hold on something that looks like a brain.

    Or, you know, they could just have had marginally better characterization, plotting, and effects, like Tomb Raider. Or even the Mummy, honestly.

    “GI JOe is apparently based on explosions and who knows what else. If you dont like it fine but its not valid to say that it ignores aspects of history when its a summer popcorn movie not schindlers list.”

    Thank God it’s not Schindler’s List. That’s a truly crappy movie. Of the two, I think I’d rather sit through G.I. Joe again.

  96. I wasn’t originally going to see it, but now I’m definitely going to see it just to piss you off, Noah. USA! USA! USA!

  97. And the really funny thing is that the Joes make a point of calling in the threat to the Eiffel Tower once it’s identified, so that it can be evacuated before the missile hits. Several scenes make a point of the screaming evacuation.

    Since everyone escapes and no one is killed (only a rebuildable historical landmark is destroyed) Noah’s entire review is made pointless.

  98. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight…the Bible’s books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on…the Bible’s books were written by people with very different mindsets.

  99. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books.

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  101. value of massacred Parisians, however, G.I. Joe avoids potential

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