Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sackcloth and Ashes, Camo Pattern.

First, let me say that I did this as unintentional penance. I irritated a person whose talent I respect, the Dementia Radio DJ known as The All-Powerful Nateboi. As it turned out, Karma took a large chunk out of my ass. Nateboi, I am truly and sincerely sorry. I have paid for my inadvertant irritation.

I took three people, and myself, to see GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

The very talented people at SpielBay produced three videos that told exactly what was wrong with this film. However, one of the people I know - a fangirl who often gets depressed and giggles incessantly at the stupidest lines - needed a lift, and said "we don't care about the reviews." So I made the sacrifice.

At the time I wrote this I suffered a mild case of Swine Flu (H1N1). That felt better than this movie.

SpielBay talked about how the movie betrayed the heritage of the GI Joe cartoons. Fangirl giggled when she saw an animated logo for Hasbro, the copyright owner of the GI Joe franchise. It was going to be a toy movie? It was going to be fun? No.

It was a plain betrayal, not only of a toy franchise with its own backstory, but a betrayal of basic filmmaking and storytelling.

It was noisy. It was an attempt to burst the eardrums that a movie like Transformers only bruised. Explosions, beam weapons, cars crashing; it was as if someone was taking a tally of all these effects, and the more that were used, the better the movie would be.

It avoided logical sense. One of the things SpielBay mentioned was the pointless love affair between Duke, the protagonist of the Joes, and Countess, the leather dominatrix villainess of the enemy organization. It was a more pointless plot complication than I could describe. Many times, when Duke could have stopped the evil plans of the movie by killing the bitch (an insult I do not use lightly) he faltered or refused to fire, and innocents died. This is heroic action?

In the original cartoon series, nobody died; there were lots of laser weapons, no bullets, nothing like that. Boy, did they correct that. A relatively innocent blonde soldier is killed by being impaled, from behind, by a katana, with the blade piercing the notepad computer she's carrying. People are murdered throughout the film, usually in pretty ugly fashion for pretty pointless reasons. I repeat, Murdered. Not killed tragically in combat: murdered.

It makes little logical sense. In the middle of many scenes, the action stops to enter flashbacks to explain who the characters were and why they were acting this way. I complained about Speed Racer doing this. That was crystal clarity compared to the pointless, story-stopping flashbacks in GI Joe.

You'll notice I did not mention the word COBRA. That's because for most of the movie, COBRA did not exist. The enemy organization, M.A.R.S., was an international arms maker whose CEO (with a Scottish accent even worse than mine!) decided to destroy the world's three major capitals to assume dictatorial power. It is only in the last five minutes of this overlong film, when the CEO becomes the chrome-faced Destro and his mad doc assistant becomes Cobra Commander, that we finally see the COBRA logo on the side of his submarine - a logo that never appeared anywhere else in the film! It was as if someone at Hasbro suddenly woke up and said, "Hey, our villains look nothing like our action figures! Fix it, schmucks!"

The most grevious fault, I leave for last. I did not care. I did not care about the cartoonish weapons, used to produce non-cartoonish gore. I did not care about the fate of any of the characters. I did not care whether the Joes lived or died. I didn't care that the Eiffel Tower collapsed. All I care about is that this film had its box office beaten in the second week by District 9, whose budget wouldn't have bought lunch for the GI Joe crew, and this week by Inglourious Basterds.

My only occupation during this skinny-dip in a cesspool was counting the product placements hidden within the film. I found Cisco Systems logos hidden on all the spastic video screens and 3-D "holograms" in the film. Twice, the Joes pop Double Bubble bubble gum before entering battle. When the action of the finale showed a CGI polar bear, I kept trying to find the Coca-Cola bottle I was sure the bear was holding. I hope the advertisers realize their product placements in this cinematic sludge heap will do them no honor.

As SpielBay's "Shipwreck" character said, "And now you know.'s too late." Paramount and Hasbro got $27 of my money, at a time I can scarely afford it, to entertain my fangirl friend (who really loved this film; she loves fantasy, even bad ones). Plus $20 for four $5 sodas in the till of the theater. If I'd been alone, and had not been enervated by this disaster, I might have tried to sneak into Basterds to wash the bad taste out of my system. That film is typical Quentin Tarantino, it's bloody, it's violent, and mostly it's Tarantino stealing bits from older, better films. But it would be heaven compared to the Hell I actually attended.

Remember these names. If they are on any movie posters in the near future, DO NOT SEE THOSE FILMS. Do not reward these people for their betrayal of the young muse Cinema, who makes the impossible possible and the unreal real. GI Joe raped the young muse Cinema, peed on her unconscious body and left her for dead in an alley.

Producer: Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Bob Ducsay
Executive Producers: Brian Goldner, Erik Howsam
Director: Stephen Sommers
Screenplay: Stuart Beattie, David Elliot & Paul Lovett
Story: Michael Gordon (as Michael B. Gordon), Stuart Beattie & Stephen Sommers

Of all the people, especially beware of di Bonaventura. He has a slew of projects that, if there is a God, will never be made: movies based on the Asteroids video game, the Alfred Bester novel The Stars My Destination, Beverly Hills Cop IV...I can't go on.