Well, after a good nine months or so of heaping criticism on G.I Joe: The Rise of Cobra, we finally got around to seeing the film last night, shelling out $12 just like most of America’s film critics were forced to do. In good conscience, we can’t exactly say that the movie ever approached greatness (or for that matter, the outer orbits of “good”), but we will cop to its being pretty fun in spots. While we don’t think that director Stephen Sommers had either the desire or the intellectual wherewithal to make a motion picture that could be accurately labeled as “camp,” we did find ourselves appreciating a few of the choices that he made along the way. So follow along for our SPOILER-RIDDEN countdown of five things we actually enjoyed about the year’s most maligned movie.
1) Well-known, well-respected actors slumming it: Even though he doesn’t appear in any of the film’s commercials or trailers, it’s fairly well known that this summer’s “It” actor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, has a fairly sizable role in the film as the infamous Cobra Commander. Although much of his performance is hidden under unfortunate wigs, heavy makeup, and facial masks, it’s still a hoot to see JoGo hamming it up as a cartoonish supervillian with a voice that makes Christian Bale’s gruff Dark Knight vocal affectations seem almost tame by comparison. And we were also quite delighted to see Jonathan Pryce appear in several scenes, nervously pacing around the Oval Office. But best of all was Dennis Quaid’s hilariously phoned-in performance as the de facto leader of the Joes, General Hawk. We’re not sure cinéastes would necessarily agree, but we loved his decision to play the hard-nosed character as basically a constipated old coot. We wonder if he went Method and actually wore Depends on the set?
2) One of the Victoria’s Secret Angels gets stabbed in the back — literally!: We’re fairly certain that Karolína Kurková’s brief appearance in the film as some sort of administrative assistant to the Joes will go down in history as one of the poorest onscreen performances by a supermodel pretending to be an actress. However, her brief and fairly emotionless death scene made the theater audience that we were with last night erupt into guffaws. We can’t vouch for the rest of the audience, but we chuckled because we imagined that while Kurková has probably been metaphorically stabbed in the back countless times during her time in the supremely catty world of fashion, this was the first time that it actually happened to her.
3) The training montage set to “Bang a Gong”: The training montage is, of course, a well-worn staple of action movies, particularly those filmed during the steroid-laden eighties: Noted thespians ranging from Sylvester Stallone to Jean Claude Van Damme have each participated in at least one memorable training montage during their storied careers. And now you can add Channing Tatum, Rachel Nichols, and Marlon Wayans to that venerable list, as these pieces of eye candy spend considerable time in various states of undress, running on treadmills and doing sit-ups set to a totally unnecessary cover of T. Rex’s glam-rock staple, “Bang a Gong (Get It On).” (Side note: Bonus cheesy points are awarded to the film’s music supervisor for deciding to play a hilariously awful remix of “Boom Boom Pow” by the Black Eyed Peas over the film’s end credits.)
4) The interracial kiss: Now, this is something that you’re not going to see in Transformers! There’s a fairly significant portion of the film dedicated to detailing the efforts that Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) undertakes in order to win the affection of busty redhead Scarlett (Rachel Nichols). But just when you think that this somewhat progressive flirtation — well, at least for a toy commercial disguised as an action film — is all bark and no bite, Scarlett plants a big wet one on Ripcord, when he’s strapped into some sort of super-advanced jet airplane. We definitely didn’t see that one coming!
5) Brendan Fraser!: Martin Scorsese has Robert De Niro. Judd Apatow has Seth Rogen. And for better or for worse, Stephen Sommers has Brendan Fraser! Seeing as how no one really wrote about the finished product for the film, it totally caught us by surprise when we saw the always likable lunkhead Brendan Fraser pop up in a brief, unbilled cameo as some sort of personal trainer–drill sergeant for the Joes. And for those of you closeted Mummy fans out there, you’ll also definitely appreciate Arnold Vosloo’s slightly more substantive appearance as the Cobra chameleon Zartan.
So VultureWatchers, what did you think of the film? Have you seen it yet? Are you waiting for HBO? Or are you going to avoid it forever?