GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Year: 2009
Studio: Paramount
Director: Stephen Sommers
Producer: Lorenzo di Bonaventura
Writer: Stephen Sommers/Stuart Beattie
Cast: Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Marlon Wayans, Rachel Nichols, Christopher Eccleston, Dennis Quaid, Ray Park, Joseph Gordon Leavitt, Jonathan Pryce, Arnold Vosloo

The films of Stephen Sommers are like a huge, sickly cake. Somewhere deep inside them the makings and ingredients of a very enjoyable experience can be found, but they're hidden under so much sugar, cream, glossy decoration and frosting for such a slight interior the art therein is buried deep and hopelessly lost.

Van Helsing, each having left many feeling their like your teeth were rotten, their stomachs bloated and their veins rapidly clogging up with cholesterol.

Sommers is obviously the only one who thought he was actually showing too much restraint with all his other movies. GI Joe is such a crack-addled, sugar-infused, ADHD-crippled exercise it almost makes you throw up along with the above. It breathlessly careens from one end of the world to the other, romance to comedy to action to sci-fi and street chase to underwater submarine fleet battle, the whole time throwing a dizzying amount of expendable minions, gun blasts, explosions and futuristic military apparatus into the cauldron you're left reeling.

Complaints about these popcorn action blockbusters being like video games are common - all you're missing here is a handheld controller. When they make the inevitable video game all they'll have to do is strip long sequences out of the movie. Where 300 celebrated its 'fake' CGI aesthetic to match the source material, GI Joe looks like it was farmed out to every digital post production house in the world (who then didn't get enough time to deliver).

Somewhere in all this mess is a story based on the action figure-turned-comic strip, of a top secret international military force of the near future and the various terrorist and corporate criminals they battle to keep the peace. Without a mythology as well-known as that of Batman or even Transformers, director/writer Sommers had a clean slate on which to sketch any clichés he wished - or rather, the ones with the inevitable licensing deal and teen appeal.

Hence we have the good looking, square jawed hero (Tatum), the comic sidekick (Wayans), the nasty dominatrix type (Miller), the cute girl next door (Nichols) and, yes, the mute, sword-wielding ninja (Park). What's more, they all wear tight black leather that shows the curves of both sexes to best effect.

To cap it all off, there's an iconic money-shot sequence of a famous landmark meeting a destructive end. It's the sort of movie an eleven year old boy would make if given two hundred million dollars - all toys, explosions and plunging cleavage. Everything about it screams 'contractual licensing obligations', elite military clichés tossed around like the cars, machinery and people all anonymously and violently destroyed. It's hard to believe anything could be louder or more brainless than Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, but this makes Michael Bay's machine mash look like a quirky Sundance drama.

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