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Movie Review

G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra

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

Reviewed by: Michael Karounos
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens, Adults
Genre:
Action, Adventure
Length:
1 hr. 58 min.
Year of Release:
2009
USA Release:
August 7, 2009 (wide—4,007 theaters)
DVD: November 3, 2009
Copyright, Paramount Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Paramount Pictures

swords in the Bible

armor

spies

armies

war

death

anger

final judgment

destruction

goodness

goodness of God

humility

justice

PATRIOTISM—Does being a Christian mean that I should be patriotic? Answer

VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

Featuring: Dennis Quaid (General Hawk), Channing Tatum (Duke), Sienna Miller (Ana/Baroness), Marlon Wayans (Ripcord), Joseph Gordon-Levitt, more »
Director: Stephen Sommers—“The Mummy,” “The Mummy Returns,” “Van Helsing”
Producer: Paramount Pictures, Spyglass Entertainment, Hasbro, Di Bonaventura Pictures, The Sommers Company, Stillking Films, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Bob Ducsay, Brian Goldner, Erik Howsam, Cliff Lanning, David Minkowski, JoAnn Perritano, Stephen Sommers, Matthew Stillman, David Womark
Distributor: Paramount Pictures

“When all else fails, they don’t”

“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” is heavy on special effects, short on character development, and indifferent to plot logic. Were those its only faults, it would be no worse than many summer action movies. The problem with a movie that calls itself “G.I. Joe”—but which is expressly non-American—is that it’s like a watching a foreign movie with American actors. It sounds right, but the value system is alien to American sensibilities.

The premise of the movie is that a Scottish weapons dealer—the latest descendant in a long line of weapons dealers from the UK—is selling a warhead that explodes a cloud of robotic nanomites onto its target. The nanomites, an idea seemingly ripped off from the remake of “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” can devour entire cities if not deactivated. The American government naturally purchases four warheads with the direct involvement of the American President. Not surprisingly, they are stolen and the chase begins.

Metaphorically speaking, ideological space is extremely important in movies. The location of where things take place and what gets blown up and who does the blowing up are the keys to deciphering the message of a movie like this. In “G.I. Joe,” the weapons, originating from a British citizen, are used against France, Russia, and the United States. The United States, via its proxy, NATO, is guilty of funding and purchasing weapons of mass destruction; France is guilty of purchasing them in the past; the UK is guilty of distributing them; and Russia is just guilty for no apparent reason. Like “Mission: Impossible III,” the movie’s animus is directed against the military-industrial complex and nations who profit from it. However, there is no anti-Christian bias in this movie as there was in MI III.

All movies are politically coded, and this one is no exception. Stephen Sommers made his bias clear in a pre-release statement:

“When it comes to selling G.I. Joe outside the U.S., the message is ‘this is not a George Bush movie—it’s an Obama world’ …Sommers even expects G.I. Joe to perform better overseas.”
(http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-fi-ct-gijoe3-2009aug03,0,4109393.story)

“It’s an Obama world” is an explicitly racial statement and Sommers backs it up by casting an American black, an English black, an African black (Moroccan), and a masked man who conspicuously looks black as four of the six leads for the Joe team. Meanwhile, the white-haired, white President is shown in a plot twist to be a villain bent on world destruction. It becomes clear to the viewer that the white-haired Bush is the inspiration for the war-mongering President and only a multicultural team like the Joes can counter the influence of the evil American.

“G.I. Joe” is not as good a popcorn movie as “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” but it still has nearly twice as high a rating at Rotten Tomatoes, reflecting its more liberal sensibilities. In the world of Sommers and the script writers, the terrorism the world faces is American, not Muslim. In light of the recent French movie, “Taken,” whose subtext is about a hostile Muslim minority at war with the society it lives in, it is ironic seeing a Moroccan trying to save the Eiffel Tower. It is the kind of well-meaning (or, depending on the point of view, deluded) thinking that infuses films like this and like “Mission: Impossible III” which also featured an international array of characters trying to keep America from destroying the world. For Hollywood, the enemy is always the United States.

Young children will neither see nor care about any of this, and for them there are many positives. There is no inappropriate sexual content; there are only a couple of graphically violent moments which leave the characters horribly defaced (a theme of the movie); the emphasis is on teamwork; and the movie values romantic love and loyalty. On the other hand, the movie is spiritually vapid and glorifies the physical body whose apotheosis is the exoskeleton the Joes wear to become superhuman.

Overall, it is a silly, cartoonish movie and will disappoint adults with a brain. If money is tight, see it on DVD. This one can wait.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I took my son and a friend to this movie ages 13 and 15. We all share in true christian values and find this movie only somewhat offensive. The movie had some offensive words although the words were used in conjunction with stress by the military in conflict with the enemy. They did not use the f-word but did use five words that are not good. When I reviewed the rating of PG-13 it said: for strong sequences of action violence and mayhem throughout. So I was taken back when I heard the words. I think there were about 6 times that the offensive words were used. It’s a typical fantasy high tech movie.

We enjoyed the movie except for the offensive words. Another GOOD vs. EVIL. If you’re well established in your christian faith or not younger than 13, I don’t think it can change you to speak like that.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Doug, age 56 (USA)
Positive—Went to see this movie Friday night with my son and nephew. The movie was better than I expected, although it was good not great. It is very fast paced from start to finish, not only in action but in dialogue. Sometimes a little too fast and hard to follow, in action and dialogue.

For people like me who grew up in the 80’s playing with the action figures and reading the comics, be warned, some of the characters are different from their original versions. For example, Storm Shadow is really an evil ninja who happens to wear white, rather than the original Storm Shadow, who was an honorable but tragic figure.

There are several abrupt flashbacks in the movie which try to tell the back stories of some of the characters, but for the most part none of the many characters are really drawn out very well. None of the actors are particularly good, although the dialogue and action move at such a fast pace it’s not much of a problem. Sienna Miller, however, is very good as the Baroness. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Travis, age 36 (USA)
Positive—I took my two sons, ages 11 and 13 to see this movie, and, while I typically can’t stand fantasy or sci-fi movies, I actually liked “G.I. Joe.” The movie is incredibly fast paced with tons of special effects and non-stop action. It also involves a love story and a happy ending, which I appreciated. The cast made it a great movie for me. There were a few swear words and definitely lots of action violence, similar to “Batman” or “Ironman,” but nothing overly gruesome.

I was thrilled that there was no sexual suggestiveness or nudity. So many movies that our boys want to see (“Transformers 2”) are ruined by this. Our boys play video games with action violence (“Halo”), and this was comparable to that. If that’s way over the top for you, you’ll probably not like this movie. Other than that, it’s fun and engaging. Go enjoy!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Rachelle Smotherman, age 36 (USA)
Positive—My husband is a huge GI Joe fan, he loved the cartoon and comics growing up as a kid, and so, I went with him thinking that I would walk out a little disappointed and maybe even a little dumber. But, surprisingly it was quite an entertaining movie! Yeah, plot is a little illogical, characters aren’t overly developed, but it’s a fun, non-stop action movie that doesn’t have much objectionable content. Quite refreshing!

There is a love story, a couple brief kissing scenes when 2 of the characters get engaged, and one soldier has a crush on another. The women are portrayed intelligently, which is great continuity with the old cartoon and comics. And while the violence may be of the most offensive parts if there are any, there is little blood shown, the scenes are not overtly gory.

As far as the rating, I think it was spot on, 13 and older. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Kate, age 23 (USA)
Positive—I went to see “G.I. Joe” knowing it would be an action film, and that’s what I got—lots of action. I loved it!!!… I can’t wait for it to come out to DVD so I can buy it! There was action from the first minuet to the last… No boring kissy scenes—something I personally liked. There was some romance in this movie—but the longest kiss probably only lasted 5 seconds at the most. If you want to see a romantic movie—go see something else. I would not take any kids to see it, because of the violence. I don’t have any kids of my own, but I suggest parents seeing the movie first and then making the decision weather or not to take their kids… not just with this movie but with all. There were a couple of cuss words, but they weren’t shouted out, and I barely noticed them. For a PG 13 movie, it was amazing!!!… But not a kids' movie at all. Adults that love action films is who this movie was made for.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Allison, age 19 (USA)
Positive—This movie was awesome. It had action, adventure, cheesy lines, over the top weapons and locations… all hallmarks of the classic G.I. Joe cartoon. I found it to be certainly well cast, and the modern aspect that was brought in wasn’t shoehorned in at the last moment. Christopher Eccleston did a wonderful job as Destro, carrying the same cool charm he possessed in Doctor Who.

My personal favorite however, was The Baroness. Many may say that the filmmakers did not “respect her,” or that she is merely a “sex symbol.” Well, yeah. That’s the intention of The Baroness. She’s a tough and resourceful female villain who uses her beauty as a weapon just as often as she would a gun. To make her into some sort of plain librarian type of female would have been an insult to the franchise. Unlike “Transformers,” this film holds true to the roots that brought it here from action figures long ago. If you weren’t aware that its a very fun movie, now you know. And knowing is half the battle!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Colt, age 19 (USA)
Positive—I almost didn’t go to see this movie based on the reviewer’s comments, but took a chance anyway, GI Joe has always been a favorite of mine and I grew up reading GI Joe comics. After I got “too old” for that I was blessed with a son who loved to watch the TV cartoon in the early 90’s—and of course I wanted to supervise him as he did this…:). Bottom line—the film was a great action movie and the producer (regardless of his political affiliation) did an amazing job of turning a comic/cartoon into a passable movie. Especially impressive was that there was no sexual content and very little foul language.

Characters were believable (for a comic turned movie) and the action sequences were exactly what you would expect from a movie about a comic. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Tim, age 49 (USA)
Positive—I had one word when I walked out of the movie theater, and it was “Wow.” There was a lot of action, and I do mean a lot. So much action in fact that I warn anyone who sees this movie to pay attention and try and keep up because this film does go FAST. This movie, morally and spiritually, was okay. I’m not saying that this film was biblical or godly, but I’m saying that there was not much that I, as a Christian, found offensive about this movie.

However, this movie did have it’s offensive side to it. From time to time some of the main characters did swear, mainly the d-word and the s-word so parents be advised of the language when taking your child to see this movie. It usually happens in a PG-13 movie. There is some flirting that happens but nothing too serious. There are a couple deaths that occur and there may be some scenes that may be a little scary for children under the age of 8 or 9.

With all that being said I have to say “Good Job” to Hollywood for keeping this movie relatively clean and although the plot was hard to follow at first, it still turned out to be a good movie. Again, good job Hollywood. You got one right.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Alex, age 19 (USA)
Positive—I grew up with GI Joe toys and cartoons back in the early 1990’s, so naturally I was excited with the announcement of a GI Joe movie. After the jumbled, obscene mess that was Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, expectations for GI Joe were fairly low for a lot of people, but in the end I feel like the movie delivers everything a GI Joe movie should.

Ultimately, it’s a story about bravery not just on the battlefield but at home as well, and it’s got some very strong good versus evil themes, as well as morals about temptations for power that I think are as resonant today as they were in the 1980’s and early 90’s.

The big beef a lot of people seem to have with this movie is that it’s somehow “un-American” because the GI Joes do not restrict their membership to Americans (they are depicted as being an American unit, but they operate through NATO and have international members). Speaking as a Christian, last time I checked Jesus Christ wasn’t a White American, so I don’t see why people take up such an offense that a movie based on an 80’s cartoon shows Americans co-operating with their allies. If anything, this movie is an even better example of team work than the original cartoons, because it shows that people from different places can work together if they share common values. As Christians, we need to embrace our brothers and sisters outside of our home country if we are to do God’s work in the world, and I think that the GI Joes give kids a good role model of working with other people who are on the same team. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Timstuff, age 23 (USA)
Positive—I heard a lot of bad things about this film and wasn’t really looking forward to seeing it, but it was my friend’s birthday party so I was nice. For all it’s faults--and there are A LOT--“G.I. Joe” manages to be extremely entertaining. It’s hard for me to usually set aside plot, script and acting, but “G.I. Joe” is above average in all those areas for being an action film. It still isn’t very good (in quality sense), but overall this movie is worth watching if for nothing more than a guilty pleasure.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Benjamin Badger, age 18 (USA)
Negative
Negative—It is unfortunate that we have waited all summer for a film that we can finally go see with the kids, and it turns out to be dumb (no plot) and offensive to women to boot. The moment the woman “Anna” comes out of the airplane/helicopter, it was clear that this movie was not going to be worth our time. Her tight black outfit that is clearly meant to emphasize her cleavage is indicative that women are still not taken seriously. Yes, there has to be some creative license given to such a film, but there is a limit when the cross the line to being offensive to women.

When are producers and directors going to get it? Women are smart, accomplished and tough, yet they continue to portray them as sex symbols in tight and provocative clothing which is completely out of place in a film such as this. I cannot help but be offended.

I am raising a daughter and I have taught her to study hard, work hard and have integrity. Yet, it seems like these are attributes that producers and directors do not focus on. Rather, they prefer having a scene where a military trained woman compliments another woman’s shoes during an action scene and has a low cut outfit in the arctic. Come on? Does the director of this film lack so much confidence in his skills that he has to fill in his movie like this?
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1½
—Marie, age 42 (USA)
Negative—I was bored after 5 minutes. But maybe I was expecting an action movie instead of a parody. No script, other than blow something up, drive fast and blow something up, run fast and blow something up. “Transformers” is an Academy Award winner compared to this. The writers were so bad they had to have the icebergs sink for the finale. Maybe preteen boys would like it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: ½
—Bill Water, age 61 (USA)
Negative—This movie had the potential to be very good. The plot was straight forward enough, while also offering unexpected twists. The action and special effects were great. The characters were entertaining and interesting while showing each of there unique abilities to get the job done. However, the offensive language really ruined the movie for me. I counted around 25 uses of offensive language ranging, from God’s name used in vain to almost all of the common filth words. I would not advise Christians to see this movie due to the language alone. It’s a shame that this is the case because that language was not at all necessary for the movie. The GI Joe plot line and action have been entertaining young and old for many years without the filth.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Dorian, age 19 (USA)
Negative—I am incredibly disappointed with this movie! I could not believe how much cleavage was shown. For any man that struggles with sexual sin, this is not the movie for you. It was uncomfortable to watch this movie! The amount of times I needed to look away due to the inappropriate amount of cleavage was so upsetting. Please do not support this movie. If you follow the example of Christ you would not be watching any of this movie. The Script was also horrible, and even though I went to this sight before I decided to see the movie, and I read someone’s comments about the outfits objectifying women, I kind of laughed and thought “Feminist.” God taught me an interesting lesson tonight, that individual was dead right, there was nothing in this movie that made me feel good about being a woman, and it disgusted me how we were only used as eye candy in front of all the action. Do not see this movie!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Dana, age 27 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—Warning: This is an action movie!!! Do not take little children to see it!!! They will have nightmares for months!!!

Moving on, for everyone over the age of 12, it is a fast-paced (although predictable) joyride. The characters are basic, but the acting is very nicely done. Since the action rarely ever slows down it’s hard to notice any editing errors or plot malfunctions. I don’t recommend this movie to people who get headaches or motion sickness because things are constantly zooming back and forth across the screen. If you’re interested in a light, “on-the-surface” movie with a heart pounding storyline and a climax that will leave you cheering for the good guys than by all means go see it! Yes, the women wear revealing outfits, and there are a few unpleasant words, but for a PG-13 movie today that’s pretty good, by my standards. Live Love Laugh Everyone!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Anna Summers, age 18 (USA)
Positive—If you looked at my past reviewing record on here, you can probably guess that I wouldn’t like this movie. Honestly, even I would’ve predicted that I wouldn’t like this… until today, that is. Is GI Joe a great movie? No. Is it a bad movie? Also no. But I think people have seriously underestimated this movie, because I was as surprised as anyone else to find out that it wasn’t quite awful. The plot is pretty thin. There are these bad guys, and they want to take over the world, so they’re stealing warheads that can be used to disintegrate metal. GI Joe is trying to stop them. And…that’s it, more or less.

The stage is set. From there on out, the movie’s a two-hour action sequence. Each stage for the action is a little bit bigger and better than the rest, and it ups the cool factor with tons of awesome gadgets, a sci-fi twist, and great choreography, including one of the best car chases I’ve seen in a while. The movie also rightfully realizes that it’s based on a toy line and a really corny TV show, and as such, it understands that it’s supposed to be STUPID. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Matt Triponey, age 18 (USA)
Neutral—I really wanted to like this movie. I thought it was funny, very exciting, and could have been very enjoyable. But…

I have several objections, concerning violence. DO NOT TAKE YOUR KIDS TO THIS MOVIE! I covered my eyes with my hands several times, including the part where a dead man violently disintegrates, which I can’t say how bad it was because like I said I was covering my eyes, but my brother who did watch it said it was extremely gross and disturbing. People are skewered through the gut several times, shot through the head, at least one part of a head is blown off, and almost everyone ends up with bloody cuts on their faces at some point.

Although I thought the part with the accelerator suits was extremely cool, when the writers were writing it, they must have been thinking “Let’s see how many hundreds of cars we can destroy in this one scene.” And when you think about it, there were PEOPLE in those cars. But I guess the moviemakers want you to forget that little detail. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Katie, age 17 (USA)
Neutral—I really liked this movie; I thought it had a good plot and plenty of ACTION,and that is what you should look out for if you taking a child under the age of about 12, every one is different, but this movie has a bit of blood minor gore and swearing. If you and your child can stand that, then this is a great movie for you… but if not think twice before seeing this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Luke Schroeder, age 14 (USA)
Positive—When I was really young I was always a fan of the GI Joe action figures. So in a way I felt compelled to see this film. And it did deliver the satisfaction I was hoping for. The plot was well put together and the action sequences and special effects were decent but nothing that would match to movies like The Matrix or Transformers. The performances were also relatively well done including the part done by Dennis Quaid. When looking at this film from a biblical perspective I found it to be generally clean other than a few mild profanities. But overall, I definitely would recommend it to action and/or sci-fi fans.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Zac P., age 14 (USA)
Positive—Great movie! I absolutely loved it. there was not a lot of language. There was a lot of violence, but, you know, it’s sci-fi/fantasy action. There’s gonna be violence. I would not take a young child, but it is not that bad. I especially loved the scene where the Eiffel tower falls. I very much recommend it. …
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Karsten, age 12 (USA)
Positive—This movie is so so cool. I loved the action and the adventure! It was excellent. Now I love G.I. Joe. Some language is in this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Ethan, age 11 (USA)