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G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra just got put on Netflix’s instant play list in the past week or two. So I just got done watching it. Before I get to anything serious, let me just say: you should see this movie. It is exciting, entertaining and the acting was mostly (see below) pretty good. The production designer is a genius, and the stunt choreographer was good. Not magnificent, nothing breathtaking. Just good. For anybody who still knows who Alan Silvestri is, he wrote the music. So it wasn’t John Williams, but it wasn’t Has Zimmer either.
Now, on with the show. This movie sucked. I mean it sucked balls. If you had told me when I was seven years old that in twenty years there would be a G.I. Joe live-action movie and that it would suck this hard, I would have kicked you square in the nuts.
I would have done this because G.I. Joe is awesome. It always was, and it always shall be. Lasers flying all over the place and four main characters ever get shot (good guys or bad). Super cool vehicles (land, sea and air) that look like they could be in use in the near future but which, under close scrutiny, are completely implausible (but really, who scrutinizes that kind of thing?).
This movie was completely and unapologetically ridiculous. From the egg-headed Scarlett (who “graduated college” at age twelve) who denies the existence of human emotion, to the complete and utter mis-representation of nano-technology (and science and scientists in general), to the fucking awesome vehicles of every variety, nothing about this film was beyond mildly believable. The story idea is not totally bogus, but the screenplay was written by three fourth-graders from South Park, Colorado.
Let me start with Scarlett. First off: super hot, as were all (3) of the females in the movie. This is as it should be. They don’t let non-smokin’ hot chicks into G.I. Joe and they never have. Second: super-smart. I guess. They say she’s super-smart, so she must be. Right up until she says this: “Attraction is an emotion. Emotions are not based in science. If you can’t quantify or prove that something exists, well, in my mind it doesn’t.” Is there anything true about that statement? Let’s examine.
“Attraction is an emotion.” Well, no. It isn’t. Happy is an emotion. Attraction is a biological imperative. Dogs are attracted to one another. Insects and birds are attracted to one another. Anything that reproduces sexually is attracted to its sexual partner. Whether or not dogs have emotions is debatable, But organisms with no brain or self-awareness absolutely do not.
“Emotions are not based in science.” What the hell does that even mean? That there’s no scientific basis for their existence? No scientific way of describing them? No scientific process by which they can be studied, reproduced and consistently explained? In any of those cases: patently not true. Scientifically speaking, emotions are neural chemical reactions caused by the application of external stimuli. Is that scientific enough for you?
“If you can’t quantify or prove that something exists…, it doesn’t.” Quantify yourself and prove to me that you exist. Go ahead. I dare you. “I think, therefore I am,” is a plausible response to that challenge. Great. You clearly don’t understand “I think, therefore I am.” That only proves to a person that they themselves exist. So now you’ve convinced me that I exist, but not that you do. That being said, emotions can be quantified and proven to exist. The fact that psychiatrists are able to make a living is proof enough. If emotions didn’t exist, there would never be any such things as religion, war, murder or funerals. Want me to quantify an emotion? Measure the brain waves of a sleeping human. While still monitoring, stab that human in the hand. You’ve just observed and measured an emotion named “panic.” Proved.
In summation: the problem isn’t that she’s stupid. It’s that she doesn’t exist. No one as intelligent as Scarlett is purported to be would say the things that she says. Even Spock doesn’t deny the existence of emotions, or even that he has them.
On to the mis-representation of science. Apparently, you can just walk into any “science lab” in the world and they can “weaponize” a nano-technology weapon with stuff they have on-hand. Their “weaponization software” just needs the right commands to activate the nanobots. I was under the impression that to “weaponize” something was to somehow change it into a form that could be used as a weapon, and was really more a matter of R&D than of actual physical labor. But apparently it means “to activate a unit of ammunition so that it is ready to be deployed.” And all you need is a blue laser.
Let’s not even talk about chunks breaking off an icepack and sinking to the bottom of the ocean.
According to General Hawk, GI Joe is made up of all “alpha dogs.” Whatever you say. Any organization made up of “alpha dog” type personalities would eat itself alive on a daily basis. I’m not saying two alpha dogs can’t work together, but I bet a lot of good psychologists would. Regardless, an operation as large as GI Joe, composed entirely of alpha wolves, would be constant anarchy.
Also, I’m pretty sure guys don’t get asked to join special ops groups because their friend scored really well on the entrance exam.
Let’s talk about actors. I like actors. for the most part, I liked all of the actors in this movie. Christopher Eccleston and Dennis Quaid both gave solid performances that should have been much larger. Ray Park as Snake Eyes was magnificent as he always is, and Marlon Wayans turned in another performance of “look at me! I’m Marlon Wayans!” And the former nobodies for whom this was a big break were all pretty good. It’s pretty unfortunate for them that this movie was their big break.
After all that negative, here are some positives. As I said above, the vehicles in this movie are all toy-worthy. I want to play with those one-man fighter subs. The accelerator suits are equally want-ariffic. All the tech in the movie was really cool. At least half of it (“Telepresence” by Cisco, for example) was totally ridiculous, but still pretty cool.
To sum up: see this movie. As I said above, it was a ton of fun. I really, really wish it had been as well-written as its budget deserves, but I guess we can’t have everything all the time.