August 7, 2009

G.I. Joe: The New Low for Cobra

**Warning. This blog may contain spoilers, including the complete script of the movie, transcribed by me, verbatim, while I was sitting in the theater. You are warned.**

It all started with the advertisements.

I first saw the ads for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra when I was sitting in the theater next to a blond girl from Minnesota at the midnight showing of Star Trek drinking Red Bull and vodka from a Nalgene. We were drinking and laughing and chatting with the people sitting around us, all excited for the premiere of a movie we had literally waited months to see. We were ready to make sweet, sweet, five-star review love to anything that came out of that projector, and when the girl smiled at me it was with every tooth in her mouth and several other teeth she had probably borrowed for that express purpose. When the lights finally dimmed, the crowd literally applauded as the first MPAA green-band came into slow focus.

Then, to our collective horror, the preview for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra came on.

The fanboys in front of me froze suddenly in their seats. Their mouths hung agape, their glowing cell phones dangling mid-text from their terrified hands as their minds tried to calculate the monstrosity, the sheer Conradian horror, of the preview rolling before them. Quickly realizing that unless someone did something the whole audience be reduced to proto-comatose husks holding ticket stubs, I roused an impromptu four verse, two part harmony rendition of the unofficial national anthem as we tried to laugh away the agonizing pain of seeing something so traumatizing that it would make a trip to 4chan look like an episode of Wishbone. In less than a minute, the trailer for this film had plunged us all from the heights of elation to the dismal depths at the pop-cultural Heart of Darkness.

This midnight show was different. It was far, far worse.

The night started at about 9 PM when I gathered with several of my close friends and fans at my apartment with bags of dollar-menu hamburgers and cans of hard cider. We purchased tickets and stopped at the local watering hole to harden our fortitude, pounding down several pints of Guiness each as if we were expecting the planet to be destroyed by Vogons.

The theater was about half-sold to twenty-something Portland Community College kids in backwards ball hats and pink popped collars. As I walked in, the manager leaned against the theater entrance and whispered quietly to me: "this movie is about seven years too late." I gave him the thumbs up and gulped down enough nervous spit to fuel The Thompson Elk. When the theater lights finally dimmed, the audience members around me braced themselves as if their theater seats might take off into the sky and toss them back towards the earth as mach two. The two guys next to me cracked soda cans with a ceremonial click-clack as the first green-band played across the screen. I don't often get to say this, but those first two trailers felt like the best two minutes and thirty seconds of my life.

The movie finally came on like The Creature from the Black Lagoon stepping out of the depths-- with a lurking stumble akin to Stephen Sommers upon spotting a box of Krispy Kremes and a new CGI team.

Here's the rundown: the bad guys shoot lazer beams that are basically the Tesla Gun and fly on hovercrafts that are basically the Nebuchadnezzar. The good guys are cardboard cut-outs and I don't mean they lack character development, and they wear super armor which has the singular purpose of making them easier to CGI. The movie rips off every single action movie trope since 1970. Star Wars trench run? Check. Top Gun flip fight? Check. Sword fight over an "energy pit?" Check! Gratuitous mid-scene flashbacks to film-tinted people giving inspirational speeches from the long long ago time? If you're doubting at this point, you better not see this movie.

Did I mention that one of the main fights in this movie is a race to prevent terrorists from blowing up the Eiffel Tower with a beeping silver case and a rocket launcher? Do I need to mention that this sequence is lifted from Team America World Police, almost shot for shot? Team America was a brilliant, hyperbolic parody of the super secret military movie. G.I. Joe stumbles along as if it were some sort of retarded child who didn't get the joke, taking the exact same scene and working through it with a straight face and a million dollar SPFX crew.

The rest of the film is a pure, straight shot of filmic ineptitude. There is a subplot about Snake Eyes, the team's resident ninja with no personality, whose backstory pads the movie for a full five minutes. Why should we care? I don't know. How about the final battle at the secret base under ten stories of ice in Antarctica? Well, let me give you this gem of dialogue: "It's the perfect place to build a base! Nobody will look for it there and it's easily defensible." A base. In Antarctica. *Facepalm.* One of the Wayans is in this movie too, to the annoyance of everyone. The credits came like merciful angels.

We stumbled out of the theater like damaged men, hanging off each other's shoulders with the cold dead eyes of combat vets who had seen things men had never been meant to see. The horror, the CGI'd horror!

This movie sucked, and I mean bad. This movie is challenging even for the advanced movie mocker. Before you brave a screening, have some Dramamine on hand because this one is a stinker.

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