29 March 2013

YO JOE! The Success and Enjoyment of a Terrible Franchise

Back in the days far before Battleship (2012) shattered our belief that a movie based on a toy or board game could only be purely awesome, there was an upsurge of films based on storylines based on cartoons that were based on toys that were popular in the 80s. The most notable of these, and in many ways, the only one done well, was Mike Bay's Transformers (2007). Late in the Summer of 2009, though, we were met with one of the grander of all adaptations - Stephen Sommers' G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009).

pchoo pchoo pchoo!! bbbrrrghhh!! aaaaauugh!!
What worked with all this stuff is that it really capitalized on those 20-3The Rise of Cobra got about as close as you can get towards emulating that on the big screen.
0 year old males who spent their childhood on the cartoons and toys. These guys could now feel warm and nostalgic spending their cash on the butchered film versions. While nothing's ever really as great as the imagination of a dumb kid in his bedroom, though,

Today we get to see the long awaited sequel - G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013). The sequel is doing some fairly wacky things to an already fairly wacky movie property. What was really great about The Rise of Cobra was that it knew just how insane and stupid it really was. No other movie in history has so effectively translated how I felt when I was six years old mashing my toys together in big fantasy battles. That's all Rise of Cobra is - a hack big blockbuster director mashing big CGI toys together. Nothing in the film really makes sense, and that's a good thing. It's filmmaking without consequence - a big whollop of fun and ridiculous action at the expense of who cares.

The three-and-a-half year hiatus of G.I. Joe films has done the franchise good. Rise of Cobra didn't really seem worth seeing in theaters (though it did perform decently), and it didn't even really seem that great to Netflix. However, when USA puts that thing on late on a Friday night? There's hardly a better movie to watch random scenes playing in the background of a party while hammered. I hate to say that a $175 million movie boils down to a use like that - but c'mon - you've got invisible jets, vague ninja grudges, the hammiest array of villains in movie history, and Channing Tatum front and center. What did you expect?

The Scorpion King himself!
As the years went by, a few interesting things happened in the world of blockbuster cinema. First, Dwayne the Rock Lobster found his way into revitalizing every franchise there is, starting with Fast Five (2011) and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012). The Rock's cinematic appeal is baffling. He somehow fails horribly at his own single-billed action vehicles (see: Doom [2005], Faster [2010], Snitch [2013]), yet has incredible success when brought in to these ensemble or established but stale franchises. He's like the gravy that smothers an old, dried out piece of Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey that makes it not only edible, but lets you remember why you celebrate Thanksgiving in the first place.

So, G.I. Joe: Retaliation was set to throw out most of the baggage of its old cast (Marlon Wayans, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Christopher Eccleston, all those weird foreign Joes), swap hotties (Rachel Nichols and Sienna Miller for Adrianne Palicki) and old dudes (Dennis Quaid for Bruce Willis), and just plug along. Just as they were going to do a half-swap of C-Tates (killing him off about halfway through), his popularity went nuts. He went from "that kind-of action star who used to be a stripper" to Steven Soderbergh's go-to guy who now plays movie strippers. Whether he's doing romance (The Vow [2012]), comedy (21 Jump Street [2012]), heady drama (Side Effects [2013]), or the upcoming making-of feature of Gerard Butler's film Olympus Has Fallen (2013) (White House Down [2013]), Channing Tatum is suddenly beloved worldwide. He's on everyone's side. You can't really fault a franchise for wanting to turn back and add more of his dumbass character to what ought to be with any luck the silliest flick of the year.

Oh yeah, Bruce Willis is in this for some reason
What's great about this franchise is that Rise of Cobra clearly set up a sequel in Justice League (2087) is going to be. For now, let's check our brains at the door and get back to that six-year old idiot sitting in his room mashing tanks and boats together in a pretend subarctic command center.
a pretty cool way, but no one really cared if it ever came about. It's total fan-free, stress-free filmmaking. That's pretty special in an age where everyone is worried about new Abram Star Wars films and how shitty a rushed

And knowing is half the battle.

What do you think of G.I. Joe? Can you appreciate its immaturity?

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