Could something that looks so uninspired and over-the-top actually be GOOD? Possibly.
In case you have been living under a rock since at least its hugely-hyped Superbowl trailer earlier this year, you are probably well aware that there is a live-action adaptation of G.I. Joe set to bow pretty soon called G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. The film, which is set to kick off the last push of the summer movie season on August 7, appears to look like it was born of an unholy alchemy of John Woo films and Van Damme's craptacular Street Fighter. While there are surely legions of cynics who are anxious to stamp the film with a giant "FAIL," it just may have fooled us all.
Ain't It Cool News guru, Harry Knowles was able to catch an early screening, and he actually seemed to like what he saw.
"I was expecting this movie to be far more jokey, tons of cheese and really serious eye-rolling while groaning. Instead, what I got was a fairly straight adaptation of the script, which I always thought would work as a serviceable all-ages GI JOE movie. Although, this is a bit more violent than I was expecting. Blades can cut, death does happen in this universe, but it isn’t anything out of whack with the rating. I don’t believe there’s any foul language – and all flirtation is kept in very good tastes (ahem, BAY!)"
I wasn't expecting the film to be a couple jokes a minute, but this is actually big surprise. While those of us outside of the circles are not familiar with the script, it seems that it could have easily fell victim to cornball, tongue-in-cheek performances and direction. Apparently, it has not.
On The Much-Maligned "Accelerator Suits":
"Well, you’ve seen Slow Motion stuff. When the Accelerator suits are going in real time… oh my god, they’re so crazy fun. The way stuff goes boom, the wanton destruction, the cars that go flying…It really makes you want one. The motion is almost impossible not to giggle at – and by the end of the destructive run – I was laughing like a kid. It was so fun."
I'll leave my definitive reservations until after I have seen the film, but the whole Accelerator Suit thing just seems to depersonalize the action and serve as a tacked-on excuse to work in some slow-motion acrobatic shots which fall into the whole "Woo/Matrix" aesthetic that many action directors just can't seem to kick.
On Reservations About "Military Propaganda":
"She (Harry's sister) went in wanting to hate it as Militaristic Propaganda to program our youth to “Go JOE” – but instead she came out loving how science fiction it was. How it really departs from the here and now. This is a pretty wild ride through a kinda hopeful not too distant future."
I'm sorry, but if you're going to bring your politics into something as silly as G.I. Joe and its struggles against a fictional terrorist group bent on an almost comical vision of world domination, you're probably too self-fascinated to appreciate the fantasy. I guess in a future film, we'll have the other end of the political spectrum protesting the use of genetic engineering and "stem cells" to create Serpentor. (BTW: If you didn't watch G.I. Joe as a kid, that joke will mean NOTHING to you.)
That being said, the film is described as something that is able to transcend history and ideology, immersing you into this world with its own global threats. It seemed to win over Harry's sister, in the end.
Knowles Also Added That:
"This isn’t an exact translation, but there feels like more of the spirit at play, than there was in the TRANSFORMERS movies. GI JOE doesn’t take itself deathly seriously. "
Knowles, however, is the first to admit that he gave 2004's Van Helsing (which, like G.I Joe, was directed by Stephen Sommers) a good review, and that regarding the Star Wars world, he actually liked Jar Jar Binks. (Although he was using him as a comparison to criticize Marlon Wayans' performance.) We won't hold that against him, though. While Van Helsing was campy, it did contain some solid action and could conceivably be considered a guilty pleasure. Regarding the Jar Jar thing --- We'll just leave it at that.
What generally surprised me about the review (which is spoiler-filled, btw), is that the film was described as something that was genuinely digestible and not just some guilty pleasure CGI carnage-fest. As a fan of the G.I. Joe show and comics (more so the comics, featuring the work of the legendary Larry Hama, which was much more serious and compelling.) Knowles is painting the picture of a film that has prioritized its dramatic aspects, abandoned obligatory adolescent sexuality, and toned-down the conventional gimmicks altogether. Could THIS be the same film that is attributed to the trailers we have been seeing for the last number of months?
While I was planning on seeing the film, anyway, due to being a fan, I certainly am approaching the film with an unexpected amount of optimism. With news that the cast are indeed locked-in for an already greenlit sequel, there must be some kind of momentum behind it which is just waiting to reveal itself. That can only be good news for us. (Insert obligatory "knowing is half the battle" joke.)
Source (Warning: Contains Spoilers.)