Monday, August 10, 2009

GI Joe Review

For anyone who grew up reading the comic, watching the cartoon, or playing in their backyard with the action figures and vehicles, you, like me, probably looked forward to the this past Friday's opening the live-action GI Joe movie with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Excitement to see if Snake Eyes would be as cool on the big screen as he was in the cartoon/comic (he is), and trepidation that movie executives had ruined your childhood fantasies.

This brings us to something you're probably wondering about if you have seen the trailers: the accelerator suits. If you think the whole idea is nuts and simply a campy gimmick, remember that DARPA has been researching the idea of hydraulically assisted exoskeletons for a long time. GI Joe of course has access to all the latest and greatest military tech, so it makes sense that the suits were one piece of tech that featured in the movie. All that being said, they do feel a little gimmicky, but overall it works.

All that being said, you might be wondering why I am posting a movie review here. I actually have a couple of reasons. 1 - I grew up watching and reading about GI Joe, I was interested when I saw the first trailer; 2 - There is a distinct lack of movies today where good and evil are not clearly defined, and GI Joe stood out to me for that reason. 3 - I also believe that many of the critics, finally seeing the movie, will cut it up for the wrong reasons.

For those who don't know, here is a basic plot synopsis. Evil genius weapons developer who wants to rule the world develops a nanobot weapon that eats metal, and sells it to NATO.

To keep from spoiling the movie for anyone who plans to see the movie, I'll just stick to generalities, and how I felt as a reformed Christian watching the movie. In contrast to many movies nowadays, evil is evil and good is good (for the most part). The bad guy wants to unite people under a one-world government after scaring them by a series of terrorist attacks. He likes to think it is for their own good, but really it seems that for him it is all about power. Of course he is a big powerful businessman, and he is going to achieve his ends using science. This is probably one of my biggest complaints, the scientist is always evil, but the good guys use plenty of their own tech (like the aformentioned accelorator suits).

The female characters are just as strong as the male characters in that they participate in combat and lead some parts of the operations, but that is pretty common among movies nowadays (have to be "equal" in everything, see even the changes made to the Narnia movie compared to the book regarding Susan in combat). There was no nudity or sex in the movie, but an adulterous relationship was explicitly evident. There was also very little swearing, if any, however there was some blood, obviously death (it is soldiers fighting after all), along with scenes involving characters recieving a lot of pain.

I do have a couple of criticisms. One is that there did appear to be a glorification of fighting by the soldiers themselves instead of looking at it as a necessary evil to combat those who were out to hurt others, and this seemed to translate into a lack of concern for those soldiers who were hurt unless they were a primary character. The other is that GI Joe, instead of only being an American unit (as was explicit in the cartoon and comics) is multinational in nature, and is tasked with stopping an individual who wants to put all countries under a one-world government. This seemed kind of silly to me, but it works. Finally, what is up with the full outer cast of Snake Eyes face (lips included).

However, I do think they did a good job of translating the various characters from comic/cartoon to big screen, although I am sure they took a lot of liberties with the origins of many of the characters. If you like action flicks, don't mind a bit of overdone CGI, then I would definitely recommend this movie. I'm sure a lot of hardcore fanboys will see many things differently, and the critics even more so, but that is the way I saw it. I'm looking forward to the next movie coming out that was a favorite cartoon when I was younger, AstroBoy!

PS - So I guess I missed the scatalogical references, according to this. For more information about whether you want to see GI Joe or take your kids, check out this site:

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