The reaction to Monte’s last list, a rundown of overrated and underrated action figures from the modern era, garnered such a great reaction, that I immediately pestered him for more. Lucky for me, he had something pretty much done already, and was only too eager to pass it along.
As the Joe fandom is already in a frenzy over G.I. Joe: Retaliation, many fans and many online pundits are quick to point out the glaring flaws from G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. I think most folks out there would acquiesce that there were some serious flaws, and Monte certainly does not disagree.
But rather than dwell on the faults we all know well, he elects to dive deeper and find ten things that G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra did right. And he nails it.
Click the Read the Rest of this Entry link below for the full article!
Ten Things G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra Did Right
Here’s the list!
Now that the G.I. Joe Retaliation trailer has conquered the internet, everyone seems eager to take its predecessor out behind the barn and put a bullet in its head—though to be fair, most Joe fans wanted to do so well before the debut of the Retaliation trailer.
But I don’t think that’s (quite) fair. While I will never defend G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra as a film, I think it did more to try to please aging Joe fans than it gets credit for.
Here are some examples:
01. The Prologue
What a beginning! The scene briefly detailing the origin of Clan McCullen and the Destro mask is so shockingly Joe nerd-friendly that even Retaliation isn’t likely to top it. Just imagine if this scene had been the trailer; fans would have gone in expecting the Citizen Kane of movies based on children’s toys.
It’s also a shockingly, disturbingly violent scene. More on violence in a moment.
This scene accomplishes two important things.
First, when Baroness and the Neo Vipers launch an attack to steal back the M.A.R.S. nanomites, Cobra is immediately established as a serious threat—even if the organization isn’t officially known as Cobra yet. Regardless of your opinion on the look of the Neo Vipers, you’ve got to concede that they are more menacing and formidable than any Viper from any Joe media that preceded The Rise of Cobra.
Second, the Joes rush in for the rescue, and immediately they seem mysterious and badass.
There are shortcomings to the scene, however. I don’t like that Duke and Ripcord are already “Duke” and “Ripcord” before joining the Joe team, and watching the film for the first time, a red light goes off in one’s mind—and with good cause, alas—when Baroness and Duke recognize one another and address one another by name. Also, much of the battle is typical of modern action cinema, in that it’s over the top and not merely unconvincing at times, but distracting; Snake Eyes’s diving entrance calls to mind the gravity-means-nothing! scene wherein the title characters surf back to Gotham City from space in Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin.
While I wouldn’t necessarily suggest that M.A.R.S. is an obscure part of Joe lore, I would not have expected the arms manufacturer to even be namedropped in a dumbed-down, mainstream G.I. Joe film, let alone featured as a key component of the script.
04. Storm Shadow
While the flashbacks that half-assedly map out his back story are not satisfying (I assume the original plan was to continue the Snake Eyes-versus-Storm Shadow origin in further flashbacks in the sequel in order to add some much-needed ambiguity about Storm Shadow’s villainy, but maybe I’m giving the writers too much credit), Storm Shadow as portrayed by Byung Hun-Lee is cooler than both his Resolute and Renegades counterparts.
I love when he unceremoniously takes out those security guards with his shuriken, and he even manages to look awesome while running down the street with a nanomite cannon.
I am thrilled Byung Hun-Lee is returning for the sequel.
05. The Joes Get Kicked Out of France
Really, it shouldn’t be too difficult for a Cobra-dominated White House to manipulate everyone into viewing the Joes as terrorists, considering they were arrested—twice, in Ripcord’s case!—and even deported from France for life in Rise of Cobra. This was a surprising bit of realism in an aggressively anti-realism film; when’s the last time you saw a hero pay the price, even fleetingly, for property damage and wanton recklessness?
Also, one can’t help but think that there’s some sort of subtle, misguided political commentary at play here; after all the ham-fisted “Freedom Fries” political discourse in the media during the early years of the Bush presidency, and after the fan outcry that G.I. Joe is now a multinational team rather than a strictly American team, can it really be a coincidence that G.I. Joe is kicked out of France in Rise of Cobra? Seems like someone was having a bit of fun with the script, although once again I may be giving the Rise of Cobra writers some undue credit.
Rachel Nichols looks the part, and she portrays the character as tough, determined and capable, with just enough vulnerability to make things intriguing. Having said that, I must point out that it’s trite and predictable that the only two females on the Joe team are “vulnerable” and immediately killed, respectively. (I’m not counting the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo from Jinx-or-whoever).
07. Arnold Vosloo’s Performance
I nearly listed this entry as simple “Zartan”, but while I don’t require a fawningly loyal reproduction of the classic Zartan design, the Rise of Cobra Zartan aesthetic was simply too bland. There was nothing eccentric, memorable or even distinct about Vosloo’s appearance in Rise of Cobra—fortunately, his performance was great.
08. The Doctor
Rex was a grating character and the Commander only boasted ten seconds of screen time, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance as the Doctor struck a precarious balance between creepy and hammy. He was simply fun to watch in a way too few characters were in Rise of Cobra.
I’m torn about this aspect of the film, to be honest. As an (ostensibly) adult fan of G.I. Joe, I was pleasantly surprised to see Vipers getting knifed in the eye and Joes getting gutted and whatnot. Having seen any number of implausible parachute escapes from ‘sploding Rattlers in the Sunbow cartoon in the ‘80s, it was gratifying to see a mainstream G.I. Joe tale wherein violence had ramifications and not everyone was guaranteed a safe escape.
However, as a father who loves to force-feed his daughter silly children’s properties from the 1980s, I find the violence in Rise of Cobra unfortunate, because I desperately want to share Rise of Cobra with my daughter, but she is seven-and-a-half years old, and I don’t know that she is ready to watch James McCullen IX have a molten metal mask attached to his face.
I guess I am including this item on the list because the violence in Rise of Cobra strikes me as something that the more traditional fans should have appreciated more than they did, just as Transformers fans should have appreciated the astoundingly unlikely casting of Peter Cullen in the (admittedly lackluster) live-action Transformers films.
Hasbro and Paramount could have abandoned everything we know about G.I. Joe and scripted a scene wherein a kid breaks into Cobra headquarters to save the day or something, but instead they gave us a disarmingly violent movie that, for all its regrettable choices—the relationship between Rex and Baroness and Duke being the most egregious—managed to include M.A.R.S. Industries, some wicked battles between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, Zartan taking over as President of the United States—without which you wouldn’t have that awesome moment in the Retaliation trailer during which the Cobra banners unfurl across the White House, incidentally—and an attack on the Pit! (Did you really even expect to see the Pit in a live-action G.I. Joe movie? ‘Cause I sure didn’t.)
But most ‘80s Joe loyalists never bothered to notice any of these efforts. Presumably they couldn’t see past Snake Eyes’s lips.
Alright, seriously, I can’t come up with ten things Rise of Cobra did right.
Look, the G.I. Joe: Retaliation Trailer! (ed.)