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  G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra Go Figure
Year: 2009
Director: Stephen Sommers
Stars: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Christopher Eccleston, Lee Byung-hun, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Sienna Miller, Rachel Nichols, Ray Park, Jonathan Pryce, Dennis Quaid, Saïd Taghmaoui, Channing Tatum, Arnold Vosloo, Marlon Wayans, Kevin J. O'Connor, Brendan Fraser
Genre: Action, Science Fiction, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 2 votes)
Review: There has been a new development in nanotechnology, and that is in the field of weaponry from the M.A.R.S. corporation, led by its pioneering overseer McCullen (Christopher Eccleston). Knowing that these tiny robots, which destroy any hardware or indeed buildings like some kind of fast-acting disease, could fall into the wrong hands is what concerns the United States, but it seems as long as they can get the warheads in question into safety then there's nothing to worry about. At least, two of the soldiers (Channing Tatum and Marlon Wayans) on that mission think so...

When George Lucas blessed (or afflicted) us with The Phantom Menace, it was the cause of much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments about how it was indicative of a soulless development in mass entertainment that relied far too heavily on computer graphics and not enough on good old storytelling and character. How could the public have been so stupid to fall for this, wailed the naysayers, when it was obviously designed to part the gullible from their cash through the exploitation of cynically applied spectacle?

Well, no matter what they thought, the fact remained Lucas was onto something with his Star Wars prequels, and more often than not throwing lots of computer effects at your action movie would indeed gather in hefty profits, a trend that continued well after Revenge of the Sith had been and gone. An early adopter of this framework was Stephen Sommers, whose horror update for the whole family The Mummy was a substantial success the year The Phantom Menace opened, and he knew a good (or profitable) thing when he saw it, which explained why he was on board for what amounted to a two-hour long toy commercial.

For that was the other factor in these post-Lucas blockbusters: the merchandising. Kids will always need toys, and the marketers always needed parents and relatives to buy the kids toys, so why not help them along by pointing out what they should be buying? That being, their line in product, as G.I. Joe had taken the usual route back in the eighties by advertising their wares in a cartoon television series, but come the 21st century, that wasn't going to cut it anymore for the major companies and you simply had to have your big screen ad in a cinema near you as well. This was obviously following in the footsteps of the much-maligned but mightily profitable Transformers franchise.

After all, if there's a formula that works for these things, you don't want to be messing with it, and everyone involved took this as an opportunity to have fun at work, almost as if they were being paid to play with the toys themselves, only on a grander scale. The plot is something that you'll likely have forgotten the finer points of about two picoseconds after the end credits begin, but it did what it needed to, set up various excuses to blow things up good - blow them up real good. The thespians attracted to play action figures were a motley bunch, ranging from the "fair enough" to the "what on earth are they doing here?", with Eccleston labouring under a very strange half Salford half Glaswegian accent.

His character's Scottish roots were developed to the point where he fires off that famous Scottish phrase "You really tossed the caber out of the yard!" (because obviously a yard is the ideal place to toss a caber, what with it being so near your house) and putting an antitheft device in his super-duper plane that relied on what Rachel Nichols describes as that celebrated Scottish language, Celtic (huh?). But this kind of absurdity was par for the course, and helped break up the monotony of onanistic weaponry worship, which included a setpiece where the G.I. Joes took on the bad guys who were attempting to topple the Eiffel Tower with the nanobots, and pretty much assisting them in achieving that goal. Um, hooray? Not to mention that the film was so intent on setting up the sequel that it looked as if the bad guys won, in spite of special non-floating ice smashing up their Arctic base under the sea. What did the producers care? They had your money, you'd killed two hours, and the Hollywood juggernaut rolled on. Music by Alan Silvestri.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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