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PARAMOUNT

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Stephen Sommers
Cast:
Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum, Ray Park, Sienna Miller, Joseph Gordon-Levitt , Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Christopher Eccleston
Writing Credits:
Stuart Beattie, David Elliot, Paul Lovett, Michael Gordon (story), Stuart Beattie (story), Stephen Sommers (story)

Tagline:
When all else fails, they don't.

Synopsis:
Based on Hasbro's immensely popular action figures, G.I. Joe is the ultimate elite fighting force, engaged in an extraordinary action-adventure matchup of good versus evil! In G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, the G.I. Joe team, armed with the coolest hi-tech gadgets and weapons, travels the world from the Egyptian desert to the polar ice caps in a high stakes pursuit of Cobra, an evil international organization threatening to use a technology that could bring the world to its knees.

Box Office:
Budget
$175 million.
Opening Weekend
$54.713 million on 4007 screens.
Domestic Gross
$150.010 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 118 min.
Price: $22.98
Release Date: 11/3/2009

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Stephen Sommers and Producer/Editor Bob Ducsay
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

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G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra [Blu-Ray] (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 19, 2013)

When considering the case of 2009’s GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the long-lasting toy franchise would leap to the big screen. Instead ,the surprise comes from the fact it took so long. The action figures originated in the 1960s and got added life via a new line introduced in the early 1980s. The latter received animated adaptations but nothing live-action until Cobra.

Viewing the result, I can’t say I wish Joe made the jump earlier, as it’s a forgettable effort. After weapons-maker James McCullen’s (Christopher Eccleston) Military Armament Research Syndicate sells four super-powered warhead to NATO, soldiers Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) lead a squad to deliver them. They come under an attack from a mysterious team, but another group of soldiers saves the day. Duke and Ripcord soon meet General Hawk (Dennis Quaid), the leader of the elite GI Joe super-squad, and they convince him to let them join.

In the meantime, we find out McCullen isn’t on the up and up, as he’s the one who ordered the attempt to steal the warheads. McCullen works with an evil organization called Cobra, and they churn out super-soldiers created by the disfigured Doctor (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), one of a few characters with a connection to Duke’s past; in addition, his ex-fiancée Ana (Sienna Miller) now goes by “The Baroness” and leads the Cobra soldiers. The Joes need to protect the warheads and defeat Cobra.

Back in 1999, I thought director Stephen Sommers delivered a fun update on the Mummy franchise, but his subsequent works did less for me. The 2001 sequel was decent but not as good as the first flick, and 2004’s Van Helsing was essentially a dud.

Sommers went five years between directorial efforts before he came back for Rise, but he didn’t bring any cinematic inspiration with him. Indeed, Sommers continues to get worse as he goes along, for Rise can’t even achieve the mediocrity of Van Helsing.

Like that film, Rise comes light on coherent story and heavy on CG mayhem. While the effects have gotten better over the years, I still don’t think they’re very good. Sommers’ movies have always been subpar in terms of their computer elements, and Rise continues that trend. Admittedly, they’re not awful, but they lack the quality we’d expect from a 2009 release and can distract.

Even without those flaws, Rise wouldn’t work. For one, it’s too darned complicated. Granted, I realize “origin stories” like this can become burdensome, as they need to introduce so many different characters/scenarios. It’s not unusual for efforts like this to become a bit bogged down in exposition.

Nonetheless, Rise goes crazy in that regard. It includes enough characters and backstories to fill a 10-hour miniseries, so one two-hour film can’t hope to spell them out well.

Instead, it leaves each and every one barely explored, which hurts it in the long run. No, I don’t expect rich characters from a summer action blockbuster like this, but the sheer number of participants creates a real problem. We barely know anyone – and we never care about them.

Why throw out so many roles? To sell toys, I suspect. Of course, I understand that commerce drives Rise; no one makes a movie based on a line of action figures with art in mind. Nonetheless, Rise could make its motives less obvious; it constantly gives us the impression that the toy-oriented cart drove this particular horse.

The actors are fine in their parts, I guess. None of them excel, but at least they manage to avoid seeming embarrassed. They’re cartoony and campy, just as one would anticipate.

As for the action, it tends to be a mess. Sommers apparently believes “big and chaotic” is always the way to go, so we get scenes without much coherence or impact. He throws out massive amounts of CG gewgaws and doesn’t worry about real excitement or power; the movie consists of one lackluster action sequence after another.

While I suspect I shouldn’t have expected much from Rise, I still view it as a disappointment. I’m a sucker for action flicks and think the GI Joe universe has potential to create a good movie franchise. Unfortunately, Rise launches the series with a thud.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A-/ Bonus C+

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Though not stellar, this was a generally solid presentation.

Sharpness seemed good. A few wide shots could be a little soft, but those occurred infrequently and created minor distractions. The majority of the flick demonstrated nice accuracy. I noticed no issues with shimmering or jagged edges, and edge haloes remained absent. No print flaws came along with this clean presentation.

In terms of colors, the movie went with a stylized palette. Like most modern movies, teal and orange dominated. Cliché as they may be, these came across fine, as the Blu-ray represented them as intended. Blacks looked dark and dense, and shadows were good; a few low-light shots could be a smidgen opaque, but that was another minor complaint. Overall, the movie looked positive.

I also felt impressed with the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. As expected from an action movie like this, the soundscape provided a frequent assault on the ears. This was most obvious during the battle sequences, of course, as those used all five speakers to form an engrossing sense of place. Bullets zipped around the room, various vehicles moved cleanly and blasts exploded into our faces. Quieter scenes delivered a nice sense of ambience, but the louder sequences brought the best punch and created a sensational soundscape.

In addition, the mix boasted good audio quality. Music was rich and full, with crisp highs and taut lows. Effects followed suit, as the various military elements delivered strong and accurate reproduction, with some bold bass response. Speech was also concise and crisp throughout the film. This turned into a well-executed soundtrack.

Also available in a two-disc version, this single-platter Rise comes with only one extra: an audio commentary from director Stephen Sommers and producer/editor Bob Ducsay. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at adapting the toy/comic book franchise, story/character/script topics, sets and locations, stunts and action, cast and performances, various effects, props and vehicles, and other areas.

Sommers and Ducsay have paired for many prior commentaries, and that comfort level comes through here. They cover the film in a brisk manner while they touch on virtually all the necessary subjects. We find a delightful, useful chat.

The disc opens with ads for The Last Airbender, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Star Trek, GI Joe: Resolute and Monsters Vs. Aliens. No trailer for Rise appears here.

2009’s GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra begins the franchise in a lackluster manner. From its messy story to thin characters to iffy effects to incoherent action, the movie doesn’t achieve much across its two hours. The Blu-ray delivers very good picture and audio along with an informative audio commentary. I wanted to like Rise but couldn’t get into this superficial, forgettable effort.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.0666 Stars Number of Votes: 15
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main