your £$ support needed

part of a small rebellion | 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
  • Der Bruno Stroszek

    This is such an extraordinarily brilliant review, even the photo chosen to accompany it qualifies as satire.

  • bats :[

    Snert! Great review, quite apparent that more thought went into it than the whole of the plot and dialog in G.I. Joe.

    And that 88% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes has suddenly megatransformulated into a stinky 41%. Talk about a special effect!

  • Brian

    This may be the single greatest film review I’ve read all year . . . and this is undoubtedly the single greatest line:

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

    Now I know I don’t have to see the movie, since I’m positive that it couldn’t be one-tenth as entertaining as the review.

  • Ken

    Having observed the way the Baroness sways as she walks to and from a multitude of vehicles, I can only conclude that her spine in composed entirely of ball joints.

  • Orangutan

    This rivals your Tomb Raider review for sheer awesomeness. :D

  • Federico Contreras

    Think back and remember Cobra Commanders’ cartoon voice. Now read this entire review in in. Pure awesome. I think it’s more entertaining to read the critical venom being thrown at the movie now, than actually watching it. =)

  • stryker1121

    Agh…the suck strikes again…I’m very curious as to how this does at the BO. Rise of Cobra means a series. Oh, the horror. What a lousy summer for the blockbuster.

  • G.I. Joe : Resolute > G.I. Joe The Rise of Cobra.

  • Also, step two of reading any of your reviews that I might be interested in is to immediately check the yearly rankings to see where it might have ended up. You have yet to update such a page. :)

  • Keith


  • Kevin

    Awesome, awesome review! You’re suffering so we don’t have to. You are a real American hero!!!

  • Hank Graham

    My sympathies, Maryann. I, too, went to a midnight showing, and was shocked by the levels of raw, unrefined suckiosity in this alleged movie, and weeping for the things Chris Eccleston had to do for the Big Paycheck.

  • amanohyo

    If you’re ever looking for some extra cash to finance your evil schemes for world domination, I’m sure McG and McBay would pay a pretty penny to keep the technology behind the Plot Derationalizer and Explosion Engine under wraps. If those machines ever fell into the wrong hands, they’d be out of a job… unless…no…oh my God! They’re already working for you aren’t they? It all makes sense now. How could I have been so blind?

  • Well, here I am… holding a grudge of my own for that son of a bitch Devin over at CHUD for lifting my expectations up off the floor by a micrometer. GI JOE was terrible. The action was as incoherent as any so-called “action” film of the last 15 years. And the acting gave me violent twingings. Channing Tatum reminds me of Mannequin Skywalker in those Prequels.


    I will say this, it was light-years more entertaining than the latest Mummy film. At least I didn’t almost stab myself in the neck halfway through.

  • Mo

    Boggle: The Movie? Trivial Pursuit: The Next Generation?


    …Wait a minute…

    Yeah I had a feeling that not even Chris Eccleston could make this one watchable. Sad that it turned out to be true.

  • jabbathawhat?

    This has got to be the best review i’ve ever read.c’mon “the meaninglessnessinator”….pure genious.

    Alas…my addiction to nonsensical nostalgia driven works of “art” is too strong. I must see the midnight showing tonight. If only for the previews of the next piece of crap coming down the pipeline.

    Its ok…you tried

  • Erik Goodwyn

    Ah MJ you are in fine form tonight. Hilarious review…so am I to infer that you didn’t like it? Just kidding.

    Actually, I for some inexplicable reason liked this movie. It’s just so audaciously over the top, like speedracer–its more about wild visuals. Character? Logic? Plot? Don’t make me laugh. It’s like a dream in its logic–meaning it dumps logic out the window in the service of “coolness” (though dreams dump logic for other reasons, but that’s the extent of the metaphor).

    I’m surprised that you didn’t complain about the idiotic way women were used here. Maybe it’s just that the whole movie is idiotic, so why bother? Oh there was the comment about the bimbo in the leather, but there’s so much more ridiculousness here. I mean, please…every woman in a movie like this is identical: aggressive fashion models runway-walking in “military” outfits wielding machine guns (or swords, or bazookas, or whatever)–apparently since women can’t be “damsels in distress” any more, ’cause that would be “weak”, they’ll all to be bitchy butt-kickers, just make sure their eye makeup and hair is perfect while doing it, nudge, nudge. Pure, awkward nerdy fantasy of females, minus any individuality or personality.

    But I digress.

    Anyway, still 2 hours of throw-away zany fun. Kinda like a cartoon. Still you reign supreme queen of snark.

  • chiclit

    I agree with Erik, Maryann you are in rare form and I enjoyed your review, but I, too liked the movie.

    I went into it with no expectations-its based on a line of Action Figures after all, and I normally don’t go to action movies like this anyway. While it is true that 200 million would buy a lot of Clunkers, pay for a lot of unemployment checks or make a difference to a charity-its already spent, why not enjoy this spectacle on the big screen? The visuals were exciting, CGI not at all bad, and it moved quickly. I could follow the plot and it was a decent amount of entertainment.

    I would love to grab Doctor Drew and a few posters from here along with you MAJ and stage a career intervention for Christopher Eccleston. But barring that, if you are an Eccleston fan, he gets good screen time here, he expresses more than one emotion in a scene= which is more than I can say for the other actors in this film. He looks good and is well dressed, whats not to love, explosions and Eccleston!

    While your review is funny, I think there was more this movie than you imply.

  • Fett101

    Nice review but I also have to say I really enjoyed this movie. I will say that I did watch the old cartoons growing so some would claim bias, but I also watched Transformers growing up and recognize the movies for the painful wrecks they are.

    Rise of the Cobra captured perfectly what a G.I. Joe movie should be. I even thought the absurd ‘Crysis’ suits were well used.

    The only complaints I have was the use of slo-mo (though I don’t remember it being used that much) and the Snake Eyes lips. Those were very freaky.

  • Gen-X Kid

    Terrific spoof/review, including the Blofeldesque “What’s that? No, Mr. Fanboy, I expect you to pay.”

    Thing is, though, for a 33 year-old man who played with the toys and read the comic books as a 10 year-old boy, this movie was full of awesome. It was like a visual representation of what I imagined as the Joes tracked Cobra from the kitchen counter heights, across the living room carpet desert, over the back porch cliffs, into the pool’s depths, and finally to the hidden sandbox base.

    The movie is called GI Joe. It’s not supposed to be comparable to even James Bond; anyone who’s seen the cartoon knows that realism and plot are not virtues for this IP.

    When considering this movie, all you need to know is this: does this movie deliver kickass vehicles, fights, bases, villains, and explosions?


    Now you know. And knowing’s half the battle.

  • When considering this movie, all you need to know is this: does this movie deliver kickass vehicles, fights, bases, villains, and explosions?


    More accurately, “does this movie wish it delivered kickass vehicles, fights, bases, villains, and explosions?


    It’s a blurry, bloated mess of a film, and I gotta tell you I am getting sick of filmmakers thinking we don’t need to see what’s going on. It can’t be that hard to stage an action scene. Zack Snyder can do it… Park Chan-wook can do it. Doug Liman can do it. Let’s figure this out people!

    PS: How the FUCK does Celtic have a word for “eject” and how does Scarlett guess it right on the first try? Bullshit!

  • Victor Plenty

    Nearly every language has a word for “eject” if one is willing to use a sufficiently anatomical equivalent, most likely.

    Not that I’m going to defend this movie. No, I can’t abide the opinion that says a movie about toys is supposed to be stupid. I demand more. If they can’t make a movie that isn’t stupid, there is no reason to make a movie at all.

  • MaryAnn

    If they can’t make a movie that isn’t stupid, there is no reason to make a movie at all.

    As long as stupid movies make money, there’s no reason to make smart ones.

  • nyjm

    It’s been said before by other posters, but I have to applaud this review, which is infinitely more entertaining than it’s subject matter. Most excellent.

    The Cobra Commander voice suggestion turns this brilliant review into a weapon that reduces grown adults to laughing idiots rolling about on the floor.

  • Screw this. I’m going to see Julie and Julia!

  • Josh C.

    The kindest comment I could make about the movie after having seen it is that the directing was the worst I have ever seen in any film, by far.

  • Clue!

    That was a great movie. Released three versions to the theaters simultaneously, I didn’t realize (as a kid) that they were earmarked A, B, and C until it was too late and I saw C twice at 2 different theaters.

    Good gimmick, but instead they should have shown it how they’ve released it on video; all 3 endings, with a “but this is how it really ended” tag on each.

    Okay, Chief, take ’em away. I’m gonna go home and sleep with my wife.

  • That has to be the single greatest and funniest review of a movie I have ever read in my life. Thank you for the time, effort and presentation of this, I could go on and on about it but really that was probably more entertaining than the movie will be.

    Unfortunatly I am a fanboy myself and am stuck in the gravitational pull of this movie forceing me to place my money down to see it. Still this review is going to be on my mind as I view it. I will also remember it as I twitter away LOL.

    Thank you again.

  • AJP

    quote>Terrific spoof/review, including the Blofeldesque “What’s that? No, Mr. Fanboy, I expect you to pay.”

    Ahem, that should be “Goldfingeresque”.

  • Drave

    Amazing review, MaryAnn. Personally, I’m in the “God, this movie is terrible! Why am I enjoying it so much?!” camp. I went back and watched a couple episodes of the cartoon, and, y’know what? They are just like the movie. It’s stupid in all the same ways, which makes it somewhat of a success in my opinion. So, basically, it aims lower than Transformers, but it actually hits the target.

  • Maurice

    I grew up with on G.I. Joe, but I will not pay money to see this movie.

    As long as stupid movies make money, there’s no reason to make smart ones.

    As snobby as it sounds, this is the main reason I’ve stopped going to movies as often as usual. We don’t get any of the indie or avant garde stuff here.

    We just get the abominable garbage that Hollywood can’t seem to stop producing. On the plus side, I read a lot more.

  • acmike

    I’m a longtime GI Joe Fan, in my 30’s collected all the original toys, and read the comics for quite a while. I have to say the movie was pretty good. Much better than expected. The one serious plot hole where they need the civilian lab to weaponize the nanites warhead didn’t make sense, but oh well…
    But man, if I was still 10 to 14 years old this would have been the BEST MOVIE EVER. Seriously, for those of us boys who used to play with all those Joe toys and then even make our own D&D RPG based game, the movie with it’s huge and ridiculous secret bases in remote parts of the world was way cool. They did change the “lore” of GI Joe from the Comics and the Cartoon entirely (yes there was and still is a successful GI Joe comic). But what I was pleasantly surprised at was the fairly realistic violence. I thought it would be bloodless like the cartoon, but man was I wrong. If you can look past the plotholes and Ambercrombie guy (Duke) – it was a good fanboy movie.

  • amanohyo

    Wow acmike, fanservice, a 10-14 year old boy target audience, and “realistic” violence eh? Sounds like quite a cinematic feast. I loved GI Joes when I was ten too, watched the cartoons, read the comics, built my own secret bases out of cardboard boxes and everything.

    And yet somehow, I have no desire to watch this movie…how strange. I wonder what could have happened in the intervening two decades that changed my taste in movies and entertainment so much? And whatever became of my deep passion for Pop Tarts, Cheez Whiz, and Twinkies? Ah the mysteries of life.

    Seriously though, I’ve read several reviews of both this movie and Transformers saying something along the lines of, “If I was 10, this movie would be awesome!” Am I the only one who sees this as a huge negative? Why would anyone want to see a movie that they would have liked back when they had horrible taste in everything? I’m not a Christian, but 1 Corinthians 13:11 people!

  • dg

    OMG! I’m sooo sorry you had to watch this. I hope in some fashion you regain the time lost watching that drek. The previews for the movie looked so horrible, I can’t imagine a human wanting to sit through that movie.

    I could see how watching would turn anyone into a ravingly incoherent super villain.

  • Victor Plenty (Sat Aug 08 09, 8:30AM):

    Nearly every language has a word for “eject” if one is willing to use a sufficiently anatomical equivalent, most likely.



  • LaSargenta


    However, I do look forward for some point in the next few months or so when someone posts all the Eccleston scenes together in one vid on YouTube. Maybe set to Shirley Bassey songs.

  • Victor Plenty

    As long as stupid movies make money, there’s no reason to make smart ones.

    Money is of no use to me if there are no smart movies.

    And if filmmakers insist on cultivating ever greater degrees of stupidity in the mass audience, eventually they might just succeed in creating a world where money is of no use to anyone.

  • Brian

    And if filmmakers insist on cultivating ever greater degrees of stupidity in the mass audience, eventually they might just succeed in creating a world where money is of no use to anyone.

    So that’s what the real evil plan is. It’s those dern Hollywood liberals fixin’ to create the New World Order by sucking our brains through movie screens. Alert the militias!

  • Lea

    LaSargenta, brilliant YouTube suggestion!
    Then those of us who would only be tempted to endure this crap to see Chris Eccleston can skip the Ken and Barbie brigade and save good money in the process.
    To date I have only seen the trailers for this film and each time I felt brain cells dying…slowly…

  • Pablo Podhorzer

    Sorry, but as it is, GI Joe is pretty good. Stupid dialogue between action scenes, but they are done well. Like Michael Bay, but done well. And it doesnt insult you like that one with Angelina Jolie and the bullits that go around people ((ah, “Wanted”). In Stephen Sommers’ movies, you are IN the joke, not the butt of it.

  • Cindy Tworek

    I thought this was a better investment than tickets to GI Joe (maybe I’ll see it as a matinee):

  • Fett101

    There’s a much better version (IMHO) where the other half is 25% red lasers and 25% blue lasers.

  • Finally saw this and as a life long GI Joe fan who also had the toys, comics and cartoons on DVD I have to say WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT PIECE OF GARBAGE!

    OK really though is that the best that Paramount, Sommers and everyone can do with that much money? I’m not sure about the other Joe fans who have tried to come out in support of this film, but when I was a kid my times of having the Joes vs. the Cobras were much better than that.

    The only redeemable qualitys were Baroness, Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow. The rest need to edited out, sorry.

  • MBI

    I disagree with MaryAnn about 50 percent of the time at the very LEAST. There’s a good chance that if she writes something, I will disagree violently. My philosophical perspective is very, very different from hers. Why do I still read this site? For reviews like these. Bravo, MaryAnn, if nothing else, you’re the most creative reviewer on the net.

    My main problem with GI Joe isn’t that it’s ridiculous; it’s that it’s not ridiculous ENOUGH. Remember when Duke’s pretty secretary got a sword right through the spine? Look, I say this as a huge fan of so-called “torture porn” horror movies: Stephen Sommers, you haven’t earned the fucking right to use an image like that, or many of the other images used in this movie. In GI Joe, pilots are supposed to parachute safely out of their helicopters when they’re blown up because it’s a stupid kid’s franchise and a stupid movie, you asshole.

  • JSW
  • Pedro

    in one word: boring.

    going in, i knew very little about the mythos. i knew about snake eyes and storm shadow, of course, and i knew “knowing is half the battle”, but very little else, having never watched the cartoon itself.

    what i saw, therefore, was a very unexciting action movie, which swung wildly – and in the same scene – between competent direction and “oh my god this guy doesn’t have a clue” (vide: the car chase, which at times made me wonder whether Sommers ever even SAW any similar scenes, and at times actually approached coolness).

    i’m also not afraid to admit i let out an out-loud “OH NO HE ISN’T…!” when that jeep flipped over during said scene. fortunately, he didn’t, but i wish he had. that would at least give us something to badmouth, as opposed to total and utter blandness.

    i also saw a few shots that might have been familiar to people within the mythos (those long lingers over vehicles are clearly meant to elicit an “oh my god, there’s [Vehicle X]!” reaction. and of course, i got the mention to “knowing being half the battle”. and yeah, doctor who makes for a cool villain. but overall, this movie commits the worst possible offence for an action flick: being dull.

  • pedro

    oh, and they got cobra commander all wrong, even if he WAS cool. evil CEO’s are SO last century!

    the baroness, though, is supposed to act and dress that way. she does in the cartoon, too. her final-act heel-turn, however, is ridiculous, much as it always is in this type of movie.

  • October Mermaid

    I only just saw this movie yesterday for lack of anything better and… I’m surprised how much I liked it. I went in fully expecting to hate it and, well, ok, I kind of did, but the point is, I didn’t hate it as much as I thought and I actually enjoyed myself.

    I am at a complete loss to explain how or why or what it was about the movie that entertained me, so that’s no help.

    Still, even with the good vibes I have from it, I still don’t understand a lot of the plot, especially that part you mentioned where they have to go to the particle accelerator place. Not only does it baffle for the reasons you mentioned, but why was it necessary for that woman to pose as the baron’s wife to get in there when they just killed the two guys guarding the place and walked in, anyway? There was absolutely no purpose for her deep cover other than to give her the name “Baroness,” I guess. At least the whole “You shall now be Destro” thing seemed kind of less stupid and arbitrary by comparison.

    Also, why was Rex Racer (making his sister Anna Racer, I guess) interested in cobras and why was he evil to begin with? It’s like his secret fetish was nanomachines and when he saw those tapes, he went into full on lust mode and became a monster out of nowhere.

    I’m glad I didn’t think about this too much during the movie.

    I wasn’t able to look past that stupid “say fire in Gaelic” bit, though. Even as I was watching it, I was thinking “Ok, that’s just stupid. That sounds like something a five year old would come up with while playing pretend with his toy– Oh.”

  • October Mermaid

    Oh, and speaking of dumb names, I almost said “PFFTwhat!?” out loud when it was revealed that a scientist in a flashback was actually named “Dr. Mindbender.”



  • Rex Racer (making his sister Anna Racer, I guess)

    Not to mention his dad Pops Racer and his brothers Speed and Speidel…


    No doubt his assistant’s name was Wayne Fontana…

  • amanohyo

    You know how anytime a series of action figures is released, there’s always that one figure that’s so uncool that no one wants to buy it, and eventually through the process of anti-natural selection it completely dominates the toy shelf racks? Well, in the late 80’s, you had a pretty good chance of seeing at least a dozen of these at your local Toys R Us or drug store.

    Even as a ten year old, I somehow knew that a topless bald man with a cape, monocle, stainless steel codpiece, leather boots, and an enormous moustache was bending a lot more than minds, if you know what I mean (not that there’s anything wrong with that…unless it’s non-consensual… which it almost certainly is in his case).

    This is way off topic, but I bet if someone made a site with a catchy name chronicling all of the “loser toys” through the years, it would be a minor success (after all, those are the toys everyone remembers being disappointed by). Making fun of things and consumer nostalgia, always a winning combination.

Pin It on Pinterest