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When a movie opens and you’re greeted with a toy logo, you should realize very quickly that you’re fucked.  The result of what you’re about to see will most likely be excruciating drivel aimed at 8 year olds and people who still like to believe that they’re still 8 year olds.  Then ‘Directed by Stephen Summers’ slams across the screen and the deal is sealed.  Lube up nice and good because you’re going to take it hard and you aren’t going to enjoy it.  Having spent almost 50 years being blown up by firecrackers, buried neck deep in backyard dirt, chewed on by your dog and trapped under shoe boxes aplenty, Hollywood has finally dragged “G.I. Joe” out of your playtime, backyard battle scenes and made a mega-budget movie that it so clamored for for so long.  And in a surprise to no one, “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.” sucks.  A lot.

If you’re actually investing emotion in the outcome of a “G.I. Joe” movie you probably need no small amount of therapy.  The amount of emotional energy that gets wasted on movies like this could probably power the state of New York for a month.  The name is a product and the product is a toy line and everything ever produced under the name has had one purpose only, to sell enormous amounts of toys to young boys.  “GIJ” doesn’t even have much of a mythology to obsess over.  It’s one set of guys in uniforms, the good guys, shooting at guys in a different color uniforms, the bad guys.  The only thing that much separated them was that the bad guys usually had a dastardly plan.  Both sides had silly accents.  This kind of simplicity, and the overt desire to sell toys, is the only thing “GIJ” can technically lay claim to getting right.  Every sequence features another new jet ski or a sleek flying contraption or an SUV which shoots rockets.  All ripe products to be boxed up and sold to kids.  Every character goes through multiple costume changes so variant figures can be developed and sold on store shelves through Christmas time.  As a product reel meant to entice 9 year old boys, “GIJ” will win hearts and minds by the gross.  Anyone showing up for character, plot or story need not bother.

Hastily slapped together by paroled, superhack Stephen Summers, “GIJ” bears a curious resemblance to one of George Lucas’ “Star Wars” prequels.  Every scene is crammed with as much CGI as possible, most of the environments are fake, good and bad actors both looked trapped and desperate, and there are scores of scenes that involve CGI vehicles either arriving at one place or taking off for another.  A clever trick Lucas deployed as a way of padding runtime with more CGI.  FYI, if you take all of those shots out of the Star Wars prequels, all three movies last a combined 58 minutes!  The comparisons don’t stop there.  “GIJ” is film not weighed down by quirky personality or clever dialogue in the least.  If there was a memorable line in the film, I missed it.  You can stand around in Wal-Mart for 3 minutes and hear more interesting things.  The film busies itself with getting to one bombastic action scene after another, bothering very rarely to give any of its characters anything beyond the broadest of personality traits.  “GIJ” also must set some kind of record for hidden, underground lairs.  Everyone in the movie has one.  But the Joe’s lair has a big swimming pool.  So theirs is the best.

Leading this cavalcade of computer generated bull is a wooden, hard body known as Channing Tatum.  To use the term wooden is actually insulting to wood.  I’m sorry wood.  Wood comes in a variety of types, colors and textures.  It can be used to make everything from paper to buildings.  Wood has been a cornerstone to human existence for millenniums.  I myself am partial to oak.  I’m only guessing here but I might be willing to venture that Mr. Tatum might have trouble spelling wood.  Or he would giggle every time you said it.  In Mr. Tatum’s down time I would guess he wears a Yankees hat in a cockeyed position, listens to hip-hop in his SUV and loves to hit the club with his homies.  His only visible characteristics are blankness and douche bagginess.  Though he successfully wound up with the lead in a super budget, Hollywood movie, he should probably friend Casper Van Dien on facebook.  Something tells me Mr. Van Dien is going to have lots of useful advice for Mr. Tatum down the road.

By comparison the rest of the cast come off unscathed, or at least not totally embarrassed.  Joseph Gordon-Leavitt gets to hide behind masks and makeup for most of the picture.  For a handful of scenes Dennis Quaid squawks like John Wayne and mercifully walks off screen.  Sienna Miller slinks around in tight black leather hoping no one remembers she’s in this.  Marlon Wayans gets to have a job in which he isn’t asked to act like a complete jackass. Ray Park jumps.  And in what I consider a bold social statement, Jonathan Pryce plays the first British President of the United States.  An honor he must be very proud of.

One of “GIJ” most unappealing aspects is its nasty and violent disposition.  The conservativeness of that statement seems to point to me getting old, but never in a “GIJ” movie would I imagine gratuitous beheadings by the bulk.  I realize crafting an action movie where everyone jumps out of airplanes as they explode is completely out of the question.  And there’s not much here to rouse the bloodthirsty Eli Roth fans in the audience.  But Summers has put together an R-rated action movie and simply removed the blood and viscera from the resulting scenes.  Heads get popped off with grenades, eyes get penetrated with arrows, some poor asshole melts into a puddle of sludge, but only after he gets two metal rods jammed into his dead brain.  It’s all a bit a bit much for a movie meant to make kids stand up and proudly shout ‘Yo Joe!’  80’s “Joe” may have rubbed a lot of people wrong as pro-military propaganda aimed at kids, but it was always silly enough to make accusations like that seem stupid in hindsight.  This “Joe” goes too far and warps a dopey, action cartoon into a mildly disgusting action pic that Michael Bay would’ve been happy to slap his name on.  It may not be all that bad.  We never saw any one Joe’s testicles dangling in the wind.

There’s not much else to add here.  Where does one go after mentioning testicles?  The world knew a “G.I. Joe” movie was coming.  The world knew it would be a tepid and unpleasant waste of time.  It was.  Now that we’ve gotten it out of our collective system, we can all move on and hope sequels don’t materialize.  Instead we can sit around hope that we finally get that new “He-Man” movie!


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