Film Review: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

by | Aug 7, 2009 | FILM & TV

It is probably a safe assumption that most young men between the ages of 20 and 35 spent a great deal of their childhoods watching Transformers or G.I. Joe or both. Hasbro owned the children of the ‘80s and early ‘90s.

It is probably a safe assumption that most young men between the ages of 20 and 35 spent a great deal of their childhoods watching Transformers or G.I. Joe or both. Hasbro owned the children of the ‘80s and early ‘90s. We all felt a little bit of fear when a live action Transformers movie was announced, but most of us were satisfied with the result. It was a fast paced, action packed film with enough explosions to keep the unfamiliar amused. For fans, it brought a childhood fantasy into the real world. Now, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra succeeds in the same way. There is little real substance to the film, but it takes off immediately and does not slow down for a moment. People new to the franchise will not be bored, and there is plenty of fan service for the 20-something man looking to regain a piece of his youth.

The story follows Duke and Ripcord (Channing Tatum and Marlon Wayans, respectively), two soldiers assigned to transport a very powerful new weapon for NATO. They are ambushed by terrorists attempting to steal the weapon, and are saved by America’s daring, highly trained special mission force, G.I. Joe. They are taken back to the G.I. Joe base to meet with General Hawk (Dennis Quaid), and they are invited to join the team. Duke and Ripcord take their place among Scarlett, Snake Eyes, Heavy Duty, and Breaker to make up the G.I. Joe Alpha Team and keep the weapon safe from further terrorist attempts.


Rabid fans beware, the characters and their backgrounds are almost all altered. Furthermore, since the G.I. Joe team was so large in the comics and cartoons, it had to be cut down to those listed above. If you’re waiting for an appearance by Shipwreck or Beachhead or Stalker or any of the dozens more G.I. Joes, you’ll just have to hope they show up in the sequel. It is a necessary move, of course, to make the team small and manageable for the movie, but it is a little frustrating that director Stephen Sommers, the man behind the first two Mummy movies is willing to populate the cast with his favorite actors, but he won’t populate the film with fan-favorite characters. See how many actors you can spot from The Mummy in this film. Even Brendan Fraser shows up for a scene wearing a green beret. Is he supposed to be Flint, Falcon, or just Brendan Fraser in a beret? If they said his name, I missed it.

One thing is for sure, the G.I. Joe team is definitely ahead of the game in terms of technological weaponry. They have everything from self-targeting crossbows to immersive holographic communication to jetpacks. And, of course, the Delta 6 Accelerator Suit from the trailer. I hated the idea of such a thing after seeing the trailers. After all, the G.I. Joe team was always described as highly trained. That is a very loose term, and a lot of amazing feats can easily be explained using it. I recall one episode of the cartoon from my youth where Stalker rides a motorcycle, pops it up on its back wheel, climbs onto the handlebars, jumps up onto an above streetlight, and swings from there onto a rooftop. Ridiculous, right? Wrong. He’s highly trained. That isn’t good enough for this film, though. These G.I. Joes need robotic suits so they can run as fast as cars and jump over trains and dodge missiles. Fortunately, as much as the Accelerator Suits are featured in the trailer, they only appear in one extended scene in the film. That is still one scene too many, but it does not ruin the movie, and the filmmakers have already stated in interviews that the suits will be downplayed in sequels.


G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is certainly not a film for everyone. If you never watched the cartoon or read the comic and have no nostalgic attachment to the franchise, then you may be mildly entertained. If you are one of those people and someone you know drags you to this film, don’t worry, you’re in for some solid mindless fun. It gets a little more complicated if you are already a fan. If you are a fan, but you aren’t so attached that you will be upset by all of the changes made to the characters, then you fall into the category that will enjoy this movie the most. Close approximations of your childhood heroes have science fiction gunfights for two hours. You will have a blast. Lastly, if you are a fan who is so attached that you cannot accept changes, then you may want to avoid this movie. You will be completely outraged. I think that covers everyone, but regardless of which group you belong to, just remember, you’re going to this movie to have fun, so don’t think too much. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.

RVA Staff

RVA Staff

Since 2005, the dedicated team at RVA Magazine, known as RVA Staff, has been delivering the cultural news that matters in Richmond, VA. This talented group of professionals is committed to keeping you informed about the events and happenings in the city.

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