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die hard is a xmas movie | by maryann johanson

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (review)

Let Me Tell You My Evil Plan

Ah, Mr. Fanboy. I’ve been expecting you. Yes, even at this ungodly hour. What, you thought sneaking into my fortress in the dead of night was your idea? Fanboy, you disappoint me once again with your lack of guile and imagination — truly, you cannot hope to be my worthy opponent. This was all part of my plan, to draw you into my web at the precise hour of midnight. And here you are.

Comfy? Shackles not too tight, are they? They are? Good.
What am I going to do with you? My dear Fanboy, must you ask? I’ve made no secret of my plans for you, or, indeed, of my plans for world domination. And still you walk straight into my trap. But since you’re clearly too stupid to appreciate the subtleties of my genius, I’ll lay it all out for you. In terms your disgustingly dim-witted brain can deal with.

It began, you see, when I realized that there was no more beloved institution at the moment in this benighted country of ours than the military. No matter how abused and mistreated soldiers were by the very politicians who sent them into harm’s way — now there’s an evil plan for you, Fanboy — there was no pabulum cliché about our boys and girls in uniform that those selfsame politicians could not spout and be thought brave and noble themselves. It was madness, madness, I tell you! But it was a madness I could twist to own purposes.

I knew, however, that the world needed what only I could give it when it made Transformers a huge hit. A movie about toys? What horror is this? How could I suffer humanity to survive after that? What’s that, Fanboy? Yes yes yes, I know all about Toy Story, but that movie was about life and love and friendship and the bittersweet melancholy that comes with considering the innocence of childhood and the crushing knowledge of our own mortality that crashes in to replace it when we grow up. Transformers was about TOYS. The nation, nay, the world, embraced a movie produced by Hasbro… Hasbro! What else would it accept? Play-Doh: The Motion Picture? Boggle: The Movie? Trivial Pursuit: The Next Generation?

That’s when it struck me: a movie about military toys! Americans will be helpless before it! They will crown ME king of the box office!

And so, my good Mr. Fanboy, I give you G.I Joe: The Rise of Cobra, the world’s first weaponized movie!

Once again we see that there is nothing you can cherish which I cannot trash.

I see you admiring my equipment. This little beauty? Ah, yes, aren’t her lines lovely? That’s right, it’s titanium casing, a special alloy of my own invention: it complete resists all attempts at logic. Oh, haven’t I said? This is the Plot Derationalizer. I input a story about a crack team of the finest military operatives in the world, drawn from the most elite soldiers from across the globe, and out comes a scene in which they get their collective asses whupped by a girl in leather so tight she can barely move, never mind fight, and a couple of nanobot zombies with no initiative of their own. Isn’t that just too deliciously perfect? I input a story about the inventor of a horrific nanotechnology weapon, and out pops the plot twist in which he neglects to retain the ability to use the weapon himself without a convoluted detour into a presumably far less advanced civilian lab. Yes, that one I had to put through the Derationalizer twice to render it that insane.

Isn’t it wonderful? Every little aspect of the story thereby gets so preposterously overcomplicated that none of it ever makes any sense at all. It will fry the brains of all who see it, and they deserve to be fried.

This one? I call this the Casting Conundrum Contraption. It runs off some of the most advanced quantum computing subroutines ever written, and it makes suggestions such as, “Cast a former Abercrombie & Fitch model like Channing Tatum as your hero, in order to insure that his weaponized blandness and complete lack of talent turns the film into a black hole of anticharisma” and “Cast a very fine British actor like Christopher Eccleston as your villain, and then force him to spout all his inane lines through the most terrible Scottish accent he can muster — he’ll be your bitch forever after.” It’s beautiful.

Oh, how I love every single one of these glorious devices! The Villain Maker: it invents a backstory for the bad guy that is laughably stupid, such as that he hold a grudge for 350 years. The Flashback Generator: it tosses in random flashbacks that explain things the audience will already have figured out for itself. The Pornalyzer: it makes anything pornographic, and the effect is more powerful the more mundane the thing that is run through it — I chose to fetishize the act of getting into and out of a vehicle. Any vehicle. In and out… in and out…

Ah, but the Explosion Engine, that’s my favorite. Run the finished movie through that, and everything explodes without rhyme or reason.

You’re awfully quiet, Fanboy. Stunned into submission, just as I knew you would be. What’s that? You’re thinking about who? Michael Bay?! Ptah! Don’t talk to me about Michael Bay, that perfidious ideologue! Patriotism? Justice? He thinks he can destroy the world with movies with themes? With movies about ideas, even as clumsily as he deploys them?

Good God, Fanboy, haven’t you noticed this little gadget of mine? My magnum opus, my masterpiece: the Meaninglessnessinator. It strips all substance from a movie… renders it howlingly devoid of any actual content whatsoever… causes it to be truly about nothing. Are you blind? Haven’t you seen? This G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra: it makes no reference to any “Cobra” whatsoever, never mind how it’s going about rising, until the final 30 seconds.

I tell you, Fanboy, I am so very proud of the utter lack of any sense of imminent Cobraness arising from this film.

Oh, how I savor your screams, Fanboy, as you realize that I’ve played you for a nostalgic chump. Why, it’s only your own memories about cartoons and comic books that give you any idea at all what the hell “Cobra” might be!

What’s that? No, Mr. Fanboy, I expect you to pay. Through the nose. To see the film, of course, and then to buy the new movie tie-in toys, T-shirts, soundtrack, and eventually the regular DVD, and then the director’s cut, and then the blu-ray, and then whatever format replaces blu-ray. And you will. And you will.

They thought they could deny me the Oscars that were rightfully mine, mine! But now I, Stephen Sommers, shall forevermore be known as… Commander Cinematic! I will make the whole world go, “Really? He’s not kidding? This is really the movie?”

What are you doing, Fanboy? Is that your cell phone? Are you tweeting! You’re telling the whole world my movie sucks in 140 characters or less? Nooooo!

Damn you, Fanboy!


MPAA: rated PG-13 for strong sequences of action violence and mayhem throughout

viewed at a public multiplex screening

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine

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