Like with District 9, the debt owed by G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra to the Star Wars movies is great, and even more so for G.I. Joe, from the subtitle to the plot to the visuals. It's quite affectionate here, even if the rip-offs are obvious, and even lots of fun in places.
The film opens with a truly silly and out-of-place interlude where some Scottish guy gets an iron mask put on him in France for selling to both sides during some war. This is kind of like foreshadowing, or background, but only because of its location at the front of the movie, as it doesn't actually serve any useful or interesting purpose.
Then the movie starts. Duke (Channing Tatum, not terrible) and his unit have been assigned to move a new NATO nano-tech weapon from its contractor to military control. Despite the fact that everything we learn about the weapon would make it truly unworkable and stupid to invent, the show goes on.
But this is where it gets fun, because the unit comes under attack by ninjas in UFOs. Awesome. Who hasn't ever wished they could see warfare between the military and ninjas in UFOs? If you raised your hand, you still might be wrong. It's deeply cool and satisfying.
Things do get a little confusing as this battle progresses, because some more ninjas join the fight, and it's not clear what side they're on at first. Later we learn these are the G.I. Joes, an elite military unit called in as the last line of defense in truly dangerous and tricky situations. They save the MacGuffin, a suitcase containg four nano-tech warheads, and soon Duke and his buddy Ripcord (Marlon Wayans, all right) join up with the Joes under General Hawk (Dennis Quaid) as more fighting ensues over possession of the weapons.
All of the characters are stupid, and the acting is passable at best, but the action sequences are mostly first-rate, despite a few times when the effects are not quite seamless.
The movie is also full of flashbacks which are pretty lame, but some of them keep up the pace of the action and blend pretty well, and some are integral to the plot, if anything could be said to be integral to the stupid plot.
The head villains are mostly awful, too, cheap rip-offs of Star Wars with cheesy effects and lots of overacting, but they serve their purpose and indeed, stay out of the way a lot, which is good.
If you like G.I. Joe toys or comics, or Star Wars, or if your kids really want to see the movie, it's mostly painless fun, and even pretty cool to watch a lot of the time, with lots of interesting war action, ninja fights and crazy future tech.
Internet Movie Database Entry
Roger Ebert Review
Official Site (WARNING: Cookie-heavy)
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