Book reviews, art, gaming, Objectivism and thoughts on other topics as they occur.

Aug 13, 2009

G.I. Joe

Soooooo . . . it's not actually a bad movie. It's not great, but it's not bad, either. My biggest quibble is that I didn't like the actor they got to portray Duke (Channing Tatum, what a great name), and my main complaint was that his ears completely ruined the character for me. Yes, I'm aware that's extremely petty. Women can be shallow, too. But I had a major crush on Duke as a kid and I don't like seeing him re-imagined as a scarred charisma-less brick with two milimeters of hair and ears that make his head look like an upside-down soup bowl. This is about the worst thing they do with the source material, although I *swear* that I saw Brendan Frasier do a brief cameo as "Sergeant something-or-other" (I didn't catch the last part of the name, I thought it sounded like Slaughter, which would make him the Least Appropriate Sergeant Slaughter Ever Imagined) but he's not credited on the cast list. There are a LOT of very recognizable actors in this movie.

The rest of the movie is as campy as you might expect, but it's not awful because there's an underlying childlike glee about all the explosions, flashing lights, and ridiculous Secret Ultra-High Tech bases. Heck, even the throwaway particle scientist gets his own Ultra Cool High Tech Base even though it's only in the movie for 5 minutes. Now that's devotion to concept. They don't even work very hard at making you care about the characters. Periodically the movie remembers "oh, these people ought to have some motivations here, how do we . . . right, flashback!" and you'll get to see some snippet of a character's personal history unfold. But the movie itself seems to find these flashbacks boring and punctuates them with punching, kicking, and yet more of the beloved explosions. The scenes where you'd normally expect to hear excessive violin music of overwhelming pathos are usually drowned out by, you guessed it, explosions. It's GREAT. It's also ridiculous, particularly during the lengthy underwater aircraft battle (they really should have put that in a giant open-air cave and be done with it) that takes up maybe 1/5 of the movie.

Also, for those who are used to experiencing motion sickness in modern action flicks, don't worry. While they still did *some* photography via the "camera strapped to an excited dog" approach used in movies like The Bourne Supremacy and Batman Begins, it's much less awful and you can actually follow the action even when they're switching rapidly between three or more viewpoints. This is really helpful because otherwise the sheer quantity of action would be inducing epileptic seizures in entire audiences.

If you're looking for something intelligent, thought-provoking, or even emotionally engaging, see something else. But if you're just really in the mood to see Stuff Blowing Up, you could do worse than G.I. Joe.

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