G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra Review

Published 6 years ago by , Updated August 19th, 2009 at 4:16 pm,

Short Version: G.I. Joe is a summer popcorn action movie done right.

gi joe reviews G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra Review
Screen Rant reviews G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

I’ll start right off by saying that G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra is what the Transformers franchise should be.

Following months of trailers and clips that frankly, made this movie look like it was going to be awful, imagine my surprise when I actually ended up enjoying it. I don’t recall ever seeing a marketing campaign that so made me NOT want to see a movie that turned out to be decent.

G.I Joe starts out unexpectedly centuries ago with a man named McCullen about to be punished for some heinous crime. He goes on about how his ancestors will avenge him and whatnot and it’s pretty overdramatic – from this scene I wasn’t really sure what to expect as far as the tone of the film.

From there it jumps to “not too far in the future” and we see Christopher Eccleston giving a commanding presentation to the heads of NATO – he’s converted nanotechnology developed to help save lives into a weapon. In missile form it can disintegrate anything it touches within seconds and will keep on devouring everything in its path until it is deactivated. It is a formidable weapon.

A purchase is made and an elite team of soldiers which includes Duke (Channing Tatum) and “Ripcord” (Marlan Wayans) is tasked with delivering four of these small projectiles to some location – of course they never make it there. On the way the first battle/action sequence of the movie takes place and it was pretty impressive. We get our first look at future tech with the ship the bad guys use to attack the convoy.

Up until this point the film actually looks like your standard, straight up action film. That is superseded by the more cartoony aspect when that ship lands and the Baroness (Sienna Miller) and a bunch of armored, silver masked antagonists come out and start shooting up the place with cool beam weapons.

It turns out there is history between Duke and the Baroness, causing the mission to go awry. This event also leads to Duke and Ripcord being taken to G.I. Joe headquarters, invited by General Hawk (Dennis Quaid). We see the massive “Joe” headquarters and soon our boys are put through training and become a part of the team. Along the way we meet Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and brainy Scarlett O’Hara (Rachel Nichols).

Of course the bad guys want to acquire the nano-missiles and the plot revolves around their acquisition and the how and why of their use in the goal of (naturally) world domination.

Now we’ve been talking about G.I Joe here for months, and not exactly in a positive light. Frankly the footage shown has made the film look awful in that cheesy “Transformers” kind of way. Well I’m here to tell you that no one is more surprised than me that I actually thought it was pretty good – maybe even more than just pretty good. Don’t get me wrong – it’s good, but summer action movie good, so keep that in mind.

One of the screenwriters, Stuart Beattie co-wrote all three Pirates of the Caribbean movies and 30 Days of Night (how’s that for variety?) and director Stephen Sommers brought us The Mummy, The Mummy Returns and Van Helsing (but don’t hold that one against him).

What was good? Every damned scene with Snake Eyes in it for one thing. Ray Park ROCKED as the mute character (who left me wondering how he could breath with that facemask on). The sword fight scenes were fantastic, and I loved that he wasn’t strict about only using martial arts weapons – he did not hesitate to pull out a gun if he deemed it the most effective weapon of the moment.

My first reaction to the “accelerator suits” in the trailer was an eye-roll, but they turned out to be one of the coolest things in the movie. They were used in a Paris car chase sequence that was awesome and included Scarlett doing some wild motorcycle riding through Paris traffic in addition to Duke and Ripcord tearing through streets chasing the bad guys.

Another thing that was unexpected was the inclusion of “serious” scenes in the film – in particular a flashback to Duke in the Middle East in a war zone and him at a a military funeral afterwards almost seemed like they came out of a dramatic film. Actually the overall tone of the film was that they approached it fairly straight-faced. There wasn’t much of the feeling that director Stephen Sommers was actively trying to make this a movie based on a toy, animated series and comic book – the film took itself fairly seriously, and that worked.

Oh, and there was a little unexpected cameo by an actor who is usually pretty goofy in films, but wasn’t here, and I enjoyed seeing him this way.

Finally, I liked the fact that there was humor in the film, but it was (with one or two exceptions) very deftly done – not like the “yuk yuk” in your face Transformers humor. It was here and there, but didn’t seem inserted just because “hey, we need a big laugh here.” Oh, and there were nods to the original toy ads, mentioning “life like hair” and “kung fu grip.”

What wasn’t so great? Well, not much, really. Despite the movie taking itself seriously overall, there was enough in the film to remind you that it was indeed a summer action flick based on a toy. The Baroness in the arctic circle with a coat open to expose her deep cleavage, “The Doctor” speaking in an over the top, gravelly melodramatic voice and a few other bits like that. I also felt the movie ran a little long and could have been trimmed down by 15 minutes or so.

The movie is rated PG-13 for action violence and a few scenes of burned/deformed faces – but unlike Transformers 2 there was very little foul language or sexual references. If you bring your 10 year old to this, you won’t be squirming in your seat, but you might have them look away at some of the facial stuff. As to the whole “G.I. Joe isn’t American in the movie” issue – it really wasn’t one. The movie opens with regular Army soldiers and a couple of them end up on the team in pivotal roles. Tempest in a teacup is what that turned out to be as far as I’m concerned.

So if you’re looking for a final action movie this summer that you can bring the kids to, I would recommend G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

(Feel free to discuss the movie WITHOUT spoilers below – if you want to talk about it freely WITH spoilers please go to our G.I. Joe spoiler discussion page)

Our Rating:

3 out of 5

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. The Baroness with deep cleavage? I’ve seen picture of Sienna Miller less than clothed and she doesn’t have cleavage. Must have been a body double :)

  2. Of course GI Joe was going to be good, I just don’t know why people expect everything to be Epic, and expected it to fail because of Marlon Wayans, and/or because it didn’t look like the old shcool Joes.

  3. Good news, Vic. I was going to see it anyway but now I feel better about shelling out the $8.50 for the ticket.

  4. 3.5 from Vic? Wow I think we are rubbing off on him. It’s a good thing Vic!

  5. I’m gonna see it later today can’t wait!!

  6. I’ve said it before that Sommers, no matter what you think of him, has made fun & enjoyable films. Van Helsing, a little too much but the Mummy & Mummy Returns were fun and enjoyable. So was his Deep Rising film back in the 90s.
    Seems like this is the film the summer has been waiting.

  7. I’m so glad I won’t waste my money to go see it. My friend and I wantt o go see it because of (stupid resaon) The Doctor being in there, and being a villian. But you say his voice was overlly annoying, eh? I’ll keep that in mind.

  8. Seeing it tommorow with friend, so I’m reassured I decided to skip Transformers and go for this instead.

  9. Thanks! I think your glowing review convenienced me I should go see this. something to look forward to this weekend.

  10. I feel when you go into a film expecting it to be epic, you always come out disappointed. When you go into a film thinking its going to be terrible, you’ll probably come out of it thinking it was pretty good… unless you saw Transformers 2, that was just bad.

  11. No mention of acting? I gotta know if certain crappy actors suddenly developed talent or what. 3.5? Really? Also, how was JGL as the commander? Him and Eccleston are the only ones in this cast that can act their way out of a paper bag(aside from hasbeen Quaid and mute Park.)

  12. Wow, 3.5! Maybe I’ll change my mind and go see this, thanks for the review Vic

  13. Yeah, my friends are liking this one. Gosh.

    Count me surprised, but I’m also going to see this one after all.

  14. It’s pretty decent and 3.5 is right on the mark. Though I didnt care for the Baroness/Duke plot merging (though I believe Baroness did have feelings for one of the Joes at one time in the 80s cartoon series), it was believable. Ill post my other dislikes on the spoiler blog.

  15. @huntthejest

    What crappy actors besides Channing tatum are you referring too. If marlon wayans I suggest you watch Requiem for a Dream before u allege his acting ability is crappy.

  16. He was really good in Requiem. Not all his movies are parody films and over the top comedies.

  17. @huntthejest

    There certainly wasn’t any “deep” acting. Throughout the movie Joseph Gordon-Levitt was actually pretty cheesy and over the top (I did mention that above). Wayans wasn’t nearly as annoying as I had thought he might be. I thought Channing Tatum was fine, I don’t get all the hate on the guy.

    Eccleston really chewed up the scenery here – again over the top, but on purpose. And I really enjoyed Dennis Quaid as General Hawk.


  18. @The Critic

    LOL, you’re not rubbing off on me, dude. I’ve always said I can enjoy a good popcorn movie – I just think the choices Bay made Transformers ruined the films and this doesn’t change my opinion of those.


  19. I can’t wait to see it later today..I just hope they show Cobra..for real. I’ve been really thinking that they may not in order lead into a sequel. But I really hope to see something similar to him…Even thought I always rooted for the good guys but seriously, Cobra was so funny at time in the cartoon and just really cool…lol

  20. so the Doctor is Cobra Commander?

  21. I was wanting to take my little bro to this on saturday but him and our mom believes the movie is filled with foul language just because its pg-13. Hopefully this site along with many others will help me to convince them otherwise.

  22. I was one of the few people who actually had the trailers get me interested in seeing this film. I thought the accelerator suits were pretty cool in the trailer. I am NOT a GI Joe fan, so maybe that is why this looked like a good film to me.

    Glad to hear that you liked it, Vic. I want to see this, but it’s going to be a question of convincing my GF to see it with me.

  23. @Cantizzle

    We have a spoiler discussion post for questions like that.


  24. @Victoria

    When I review a movie that will attract kids I usually try to finish it up with a note to parents regarding content issues they may want to be aware of. Very little foul language in this one – maybe 2 or 3 minor instances, tops in the whole film.


  25. Wow. I might actually end going to see this now. I skipped Transformers and could use some good summer entertainment.

  26. Make that end UP going to see it.

    Come to think of it about the ONLY thing that did bother me about the trailer for the movie was the accelerator suits. So if you say they’re not so bad then I feel convinced.

    They just seemed totally bizarre and out of left field and way too much like they were trying to cash in on Iron Man’s success or something.

  27. @Vic… wanted to send my thanks along for considering the “kid-friendly level” of the movie. I must admit that I hadn’t even considered it an option for my son or daughter until this point. To my surprise, my son is not only well aware of the film, but is dying to see it… so this is great news.


  28. @Thomas… I recently saw Transformers II (and I only went due to lack of options), and as long as you don’t go in expecting too much from the story/acting… then I think you’ll be able to enjoy it. Overall, there are enough things right in the film to still make it enjoyable, but do keep your expectations low. If nothing else, the parts with Optimus Prime and the military are very cool. A pity they felt the need for the comedic elements; otherwise, it might have been a great movie.

  29. This is a surprising review. You’re right. The previews sure made this film look awful. I have free weekly movie passes and I wasn’t even planning to see it. I didn’t want to waste my free tickets on it!

    LOL, guess I’ll go see it after all. It’s got to be better than some of the duds I’ve seen this summer.