G.I.: Kung Fu drip

gijoesearchyetilgWhen mining the popular 80s toy shelves for feature films, there are so few left in which to base an action film. Now that “G.I. Joe” and “The Transformers” have successfully launched, let’s look at some of the other popular toy fads that Hollywood has yet to mine for their hidden cinematic fortune (note: these are all actual toy lines of the era that the author may or may not have possessed):

“Megabug Gladiators: The Invasion Begins”: Set in the remote future of 2010, a giant mechanical spider, operated by alien humanoids invades Earth, and it’s up to the world’s top scientists to create other insect-based weapons of mass infestation to battle the beast and its makers. Starring Robert Pattinson as Commander A. Rachnid and Tracey Morgan as his foul-mouthed wingman.

“The Rock Lords: Up from the Rubble”: Imagine all the wonder of those robots that could transform into cars and machinery, but instead have them transform into…wait for it…rocks! Let the boulder battle commence. These were a spin-off of the Transformers knockoff, The Go-Bots, so putting this in development would really piss off Michael Bay. Starring Ashton Kusher as Granite Canyons and Nick Cannon as his crazy sidekick Igneous.

“Thundarr the Barbarian: Not to be Confused with Conan”: In the distant, post-apocalyptic future (are there any other kind?), Thundarr, Princess Ariel and Ookla the Mok battle wizards across the lands with their light sabr…er, “sun sword” in an attempt to restore peace to the planet. Starring Vin Diesel as Thundarr and Kenan Thompson as his wisecracking, larger-than-life buddy Ookla.

Monchichis: Welcome to the Jungle”: You thought they were oh-so-soft and cuddly, but under that soft fur and cherubic face lies the heart of a warrior. The little primates must protect their home from an evil band on poachers hell-bent on collecting their pelts for a new line of ultra-comfortable Snuggies. Animated.

I am fairly certain that any 8 year old with action figures and a playset can devise a narrative (and perhaps illicit better performances) from the GI Joe team than anything within the script of the film “G.I. Joe: The Rise of COBRA”.

But here’s what we have: Set in the near-future, nanotechnology is now poised to be used in battle, with tiny metal-eating robots deployed to annihilate entire cities within minutes. Two goons, Duke (played by Channing Tatum, a model with an acting problem) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans, performing as though he was still on the set of his defunct WB sitcom) are tasked with transporting said weapons when they are intercepted by a bunch of baddies affiliated with a shadowy organization known as COBRA. Luckily, a group of global bad-ass military men and women swoop in and save the two and the weapons. Led by General Hawk (played by Dennis Quaid, though I think brother Randy Quaid bringing a bit of Cousin Eddie to the table would have been a far better casting choice), they are team JOE.

Now is a good time to take a step back and look at the name itself. Joe. It’s not all that threatening a name, much like DON or HAL or TED. Especially when these guys are going up against a force as deadly sounding as COBRA, wouldn’t MONGOOSE at least sound a little better? Even TAPEWORM has more edge.

Sorry, back to the film.

The rest of the running time is filled with the two groups going at it to destroy/save the world. It’s a given that story means little to nothing in a film such as this, but director Stephen Sommers, purveyor of the Brendan Frasier “Mummy” films as well as “Van Helsing,” decides he does not want to slow down a bit of the film’s momentum by such inconveniences as “character development.” Instead, he decides to splice in flashbacks mid-battle so that we can somehow learn how these men and women became elite killing machines. It’s a cavernous well to which Sommers often returns throughout the film, and a tactic that should never be used again. Ever.

The best praise I can possibly muster for “G.I. Joe: The Rise of COBRA” is that if you see any film based on a toy in the summer of 2009, than this is the one.

~ by usesoapfilm on August 10, 2009.

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