Summer is winding down and two of the blockbuster season’s biggest entries, Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra have both debuted in theaters to mixed opinion amongst audiences, total lambasting by critics, bale fulls of money made at the box office for Paramount and even more bale fulls made in merchandising by Hasbro, the company whose toys were the inspiration for both films.
But which film was better (read: not as bad as the other)? Even the critics who tore apart both Transformers 2 and G.I. Joe would be hard-pressed to argue that both films are equally as bad. And among you, the fans (or haters), that debate is even more polarized, if our comment sections have been any indication.
So now, for your consideration, Screen Rant is proud to present our first Popcorn Movie Showdown: Transformers 2 vs G.I. Joe!
THE EYE CANDY
OK, so Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen had some of the best-rendered CGI ever to appear on film, hands down. Expect the film to get some kind of (Academy?) award nod for its technical work. And if you’ve seen Transformers 2 in IMAX, you already know that the “true IMAX” sequences of robot-on-robot action are gorgeous enough to make you almost believe that transforming alien robots do exist. Amazing stuff.
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra had some cool f/x moments (most people seemed to enjoy the accelerator suit sequence), but nothing even CLOSE to the level of Transformers 2. The two films are not even on the same plane in that respect. Clearly, the win for best f/x goes to Michael Bay and his team of tech wizards (aka Industrial Light and Magic)…
…But not so fast – the term “eye candy” means more than who had the smoothest CGI. What about the ladies? G.I. Joe had red-hot Rachel Nichols making a big-screen splash, and god bless Sienna Miller for always wearing something tight and revealing in every scene (even when her character was standing in the frozen Artic tundra). Now that’s dedication! However, Transformers 2 had the lovely Isabel Lucas and, of course, queen-gorgeous herself, Megan Fox. Even that little toy truck robot wanted to hump her leg; the G.I. Joe ladies got no such love. But hell, in this case, isn’t a visual aid better? Decide for yourself:
The Ladies of G.I. Joe:
The Ladies of Transformers 2:
Winner: In every sense, Transformers 2 was the prettiest belle at the ball.
So let’s just come clean: Both so-called scripts for these movies were half-baked hams that couldn’t even pass for coherent if they were reviewed by the blind and deaf. And that’s putting it mildly. It was a shame, too, because both scripts were written by some of the industry’s best and brightest talent: Transformers 2 was scribed by (two of my favorites) Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Fringe, Star Trek), while G.I. Joe was written by Stuart Beattie (Pirates of the Caribbean, 30 Days of Night).
So what went so wrong that we ended up suffering the go-stop-go pace of Transformers 2 and the make-you-cringe dialogue of G.I. Joe? Or worse yet, The Twins? No doubt the pain we’re feeling now rippled out from the WGA Strike of 2007, when studios pushed their writers to finish the job quick-fast in order to get all scripts possible into production (in whatever half-cooked state they were in) before the impending strike left the studios without any tentpoles for Summer ’09. I like to think I’m a pretty good writer myself and I can tell you: It doesn’t matter if you’re freaking Shakespeare – if you aren’t allowed sufficient time and space to write a story right, it isn’t going to turn out right.
Now we know. And knowing is half the battle. Hollywood: Pay those writers what they’re owed. We’ve all been officially reminded why good writing matters (don’t let those big box office receipts fool you).
Winner: G.I. Joe at least kept things moving lightly and quickly enough for (most of us) to forget that we were watching a half-cooked story – so long as nobody was talking. At least the plot was easy to follow: Tug-of-war over destructive warheads between good guys and bad guys. Simple. Transformers 2 had me scratching my head so hard, so often, my scalp started to bleed (what was the point of having The Fallen in there? Anybody?).
One of the biggest factors in how these two movies were received undoubtedly has to do with the kind of expectations people had about them beforehand. Transformers 2 had MONSTER expectations facing it – people had been chomping at the bit ever since the first trailers and clips started dropping. We here at Screen Rant know firsthand how crazy TF2 mania was: the amount of site traffic the movie generated was nuts. People couldn’t wait to see Transformers 2; and then they did see it. And down went (most of) their hopes and expectations, quicker than the Dow Jones last January. Suddenly we were reminded of a time honored phrase: “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly…”
Then there was good ol’ G.I. Joe. Everybody thought you were an automatic shoe-in for the 2009 Razzie, even BEFORE your first trailer dropped. From the moment certain names started being connected to the film – Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans – people (unfairly or not) started writing it off as D.O.A. Not even the awesomeness of actors like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ray Park, or Christopher Eccleston could redeem you; not even Sienna Miller, displayed everywhere in skin tight leather.
And then people saw G.I. Joe – and they said to themselves, “Wow! Not nearly as terrible as I thought it would be!” And lucky for Paramount/Hasbro, in this era of dashed hopes and total satisfaction with mediocrity, not being terrible has become just about as good as actually being good. Pat yourselves on the back, guys.
Winner: G.I. Joe won this round for sure. It’s better to start at rock bottom and move up, rather than start high and fall fast.
THE FUN FACTOR
Finally, we must ask ourselves, “Which of these movies was the most fun?”
Now this is where subjectivity is going to lead to a lot of debate (read: argument), so I might was well just go ahead and give you Our “Fun Factor” Winner:
While Transformers 2 had some really spectacular sequences, the agonizingly bad script and low return on high expectations were just too painful to get past. Add to the that The Twins (who were annoying at best, offensive at worst); the uneven pace and tone of the film (is it supposed to be action-packed or dramatic or funny? For adults or kids or rap-saturated teens?); the nearly 3-hour runtime (1 hour of which is Shia LaBeouf sitting around, waiting to do something) and it’s easy to see why G.I. Joe was a much more harmless and enjoyable popcorn movie, with its trimmer runtime and non-stop action-packed pace.
Besides, when it’s a question of killer robots who look the same vs. killer ninjas who look the same, ninjas win out every time in my book.
So, the Winner of the Screen Rant Popcorn Movie Showdown: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
But that’s just what we think. How about you? G.I. Joe or Transformers 2? [Editor's Note: Buckets of popcorn were consumed while writing this post]