G.I.Joe Rise of Cobra Review (Yes the first one!)

5by5nAs I gear up to see G.I.Joe Retaliation tomorrow (in IMAX 3D) i thought it appropriate to dig up a review I did of Rise of Cobra shortly after it came out. I have to say up front, that review was more of a long rant, and I’ve recently re watched the film so I tempered it quickly to arrive at this rough around the edges article.I wanted it out quickly in case someone had the chance to read it before the movie tonight. Warning, it’s long, and it could probably fit into that nerd rage category in a couple of points.

The first thing i want to do is list some positives, then I’ll look at the movie as just a film, then as a Joe film.


1. A Few of the Positives:Christoper Ecceltson played a convincing Scottish Destro. Nods to it’s roots like “Yo Joe” and “Kung Fu Grip” are humorous and nice. It doesn’t take itself to seriously. It brought the name G.I.Joe to theaters. It felt more kid friendly and family appropriate than the Transformers movies, which i think is a big plus. My kid could see this well before i would let him see Bay’s sex obsessed explosion films.

Magic Mike as Lt. Commander Shepperd in Mass effect!

Magic Mike as Lt. Commander Shepperd in Mass effect!

2. As a film on it’s own merit.

PLOT: the plot moves along at a nice pace it is feels coherent to what the director and his crew were trying to get across, but unfortunately it doesn’t make a lot of sense. The idea of the plot of nanomite war heads is future tech,  and someone using those weapons to take over the world seems like it fits well into the classic sci-fi/action/or cartoon plot theme. The problem is the execution as their are  many large plot holes or logic errors that are hard to ignore. Here are the most glaring:

*Nanomites would be pre-programed to do a certain task. “Weaponizing” the nanomites with nuclear power would if anything at all destroy their programing.

*How did the Joes get to build a gigantic underground base, NEAR THE PYRAMIDS with no one noticing? How did they move millions of galleons of water there? Above the main part of their training facility?How come in the lower parts of the pit they left bar underground walls exposed? How the heck are the holding this base together anyways? One earthquake would destroy them.How did so few cobra’s sneak in, with almost zero stealth and do so much damage?

*How Did MARS create a base in the arctic with no one noticing? Did the good guys not have satellites to pick up fishy activity? Where their no scientists up there?Taking an Elevator from a collapsing, exploding underwater ice station, through ice that’s crumbling and exploding is not going to work! Many have also pointed out the ice sinking, but it is true that dialogue states that there are tunnels and networks of of the base inside that ice. But shouldn’t at least the ice free of that metal be floating up?

*Characters make some bizarre choices in this film. An army scientist is not normally going to Turn evil in 3.4 seconds because “nanomites are cool.” There are pysch tests for the service .They Left Hawk alive just so he could push the alarm?So Baroness goes from Bad butt who misses her brother to loving Duke again and helping hunt down her brother? Quick snap there isn’t it? Why would you trust your top gear to new provisional recruits?

*Some plot points seem missing, not fully played out, or extremely convenient.Dr. Mindbender is said to still be alive, but is nowhere in the film aside from the flashback. Where is he? (They could fix this in a sequel)

*The leadership in this movie was all over the place. I place some of that on acting, but the script does a poor job telling us several things. Did you notice that Heavy Duty was field commander for the Alpha team, the best of the best of the best? and yet he let a rookie quickly take his place? He also was not believable as a leader, we never saw him earn, prove, or effectively show his authority. When Hawk was down there was no clear chain of command, who was in charge?If CC had all the control devices, wasn’t he really in charge? But yet he took orders from Destro, in till he fixed his burnt face. Destro suddenly was docile. Who is really in charge? The movie never made it clear.
Where did the cobra logo come from on the sub at the end?

*Doesn’t it seem odd that Baroness encounters stealth tech, they have an army of nanomite mind controlled soldiers, and they think they should deliver the  nanomites with war heads? Why not send those soldiers to do suicide dirty bombs with them, and steal that invisible tech possibly so they are well hidden! Why test it in Paris, why not use it in multiple places at once for maximum shock?

*Speaking of stealth tech:If you had outfits that could make you invisible, and you needed to sneak up an assassin, wouldn’t those be helpful? Yet there not in the paris scene ? Oh wait maybe it’s because they have the Joe logo and name all over them? Why on earth would a top secret military unit plaster their name all over their uniforms.

*Are we to believe the only interaction that se and ss had were as children? But they still recognized each other as adults? Stormshadow ran away as a child from training and yet still turned into a master assassin? Se, and apparently we are supposed to, believes a kid killed the ninja master so close to all the other students?
Btw, a kid named himself Snake-Eyes?

*Some soldiers do use call signs, Ripcord and Duke do, but not Rex, so who has code-names and who doesn’t?

*Why Did Baroness need a husband to earn her name? Why use the name DeCobray? Is that a little silly? (DDP fixed this btw that’s not her real last name ) He just served to bring in a cool scene, and show how evil some of the villains were.
Why would a rich Baron have such an elusive and obviously untrustworthy wife?

If it’s the “rise of cobra” how come they didn’t rise at all? They were “cobra” for two seconds then they were locked away in an painfully anticlimactic ending.

*Why do the soldiers like keeping their helmets off? That makes ZERO sense.

With all the High tech gear, HD, scarlet, or duke and rip ,when not in sigma suits, don’t get HUD displays? Wouldn’t that be useful?

So a lot of people including covergirl were killed at the pit. Barely any emotion ?

*scarlet’s wrong,you can test for emotions, pheromones anyone? Neurochemical responses? Scarlet isn’t apparently as smart as she thinks

Special FX: This was overall a poor area for the film, although there were some positives. The nanomite attacks, melting soldiers, and even the night raven looked really nice, but other effects looked unfinished. Destro’s face mask look like still images and copy and paste methods to make him talk.The water level’s cgi is on par with early ps 1 graphics, and I’m not even talking cut scenes. Perhaps they ran out of money and focused on the effects used in the trailers?

Designs: Possible the biggest weak spot in the movie. I think if costume design was improved it may have passed with a lot of folks.

*SE’s lips: The original comic and toon images with the mouth showing were likely him in cloth not rubber! The transition to rubber really hurt his look, and contrasted with his, sweat pants? If Se is wearing some sort of armor, why is it molded to look like muscles?

*Why would there be left over startrek tng movie/late ds9 error customs in the movie? i had to watch it a second time to figure out they just looked really similar, i initially really thought they just took red duck tape to the old uniforms.

*Why on earth would a top secret unit fill their uniforms with their own logo and name?

Black everywhere!

*Sneakers on a ninja?

Most of the characters were VERY flat. Hawk and Duke seem to be the worst. Very one -dimensional. Hawk barks orders, Duke shuffles through them. Sienna Miller is never convincing with her emotions either, Heavy Duty  feels out of place and never convincing as a leader.  The actors who played Breaker, Scarlet, and Destro did fine. I wonder how much of the performance is really due to the script or the direction.

So  as an action/sci-film i think it falls flat for the reasons above, but even worse…

3. As a G.I.Joe movie.
I can’t list em all but here are some changes that REALLY bothered me.
*HD appears to be the field commander for Joe alpha team. He was such a minor character this role could have been filled by Stalker.
*“CC” actually says “Call me Commander” and leaves off the cobra.
*CC actually has zero charisma, unlike comic cc. He didn’t build any army, he didn’t convince others to donate to his cause, he just used someone elses invention to control a few key people. It makes most of the villains have the potential to not really be evil. It also means the good guys might be killing people who are under mind control and otherwise would not be evil.
*The international angle is not, “A Real American Hero.” It is a logic flaw that the world’s best would all be put into a pool rather than reserved for their own countries.
*Se is now a ninja first before being a solider. Was that really necessary? How is he that Bad A if his training ended as a child?
*They jumbled so many elements around that it really bothered me. Why did Dr. Mindbender look like Dr. Venom? Why did “Doctor” (cc) look like Mindbender? Why did Scarlet have extra brains? But Covergirl seem to be just what she was supposed to hate being thought of as? A pretty face?Why was the Ripcord/Scarlet flirtation necessary? If they hadn’t had the unneeded Baroness/ Duke relationship duke could have tried but in the end she went with Se. Now that would have been a nice Nod to fans and less convoluted.
*Baroness is good? That would take a lot to undo, they really ruined the character.

The accelerator suits weren’t even called sigma, but they clearly were closer to that than anything else. That represented such a brief (and divisive) time in Joe history it would odd to focus on that.

I’m sure we will never know how many of these sticking points are Hasbro caused. They love HD, and they have wanted to move Joe away from soldiers more and more. So maybe they are to blame for a lot of what I hate.

This movie however did not “rape my childhood.” it was just a bad movie I still love Joe, primarily the figures. Some of which from the movie are actually really good! Hopefully they will listen to some of our complaints and please even more of us the next time around.

Imo, this movie was okay for kids, it had moments that reminded me why I liked Joe, but this wasn’t a good Joe movie, or even a good movie.

1 1/2 stars out of 5.

I’m starting to feel like the old trolls that bothered me when I was so enthusiastic about the new sculpt era.


Actors: 4/10


Effects: 3/10

over all non average 3/10

(Remember the majority or the review above is old. Since then I’ve noticed I enjoy Breaker in the movie a lot more, learned that the sigma suits were originally for another movie, and it seems obvious when looking at the use of once and done technology in the film they just wanted throw a bunch of gadgets on the screen. I also still really appreciate that this film is more kid friendly than the TF movies.)

Head here to discuss ROC on our forums, including this review, maybe you want to set me straight? or agree with me.