Stars: *** out of Four
Summary: Very cartoonish, tongue-in-cheek, breathless entertainment, which if taken in the right spirit is just the kind of movie that Summers were made for.
The first few minutes of G.I. Joe establish a very mixed tone. It is cheesy, breathless, short, and to-the-point, with shocking display of violence for a PG-13 film. I was a little put off by this. What followed, though, quickly restored my faith and turned out to be quite entertaining.
There is nearly constant violence. I’m not a lover of violence, but the Joes are truly good guys out to stop really bad guys. There has to be some justice in the world, and the Joes administer it in bulk. Unfortunately, the evil COBRA Organization lives up to its cinematic responsibility to be hateable, and unleashes some brutal and sometimes gruesome imagery and sounds for our senses to bear, on the level of ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’. This is a film geared for teenagers, not little kids.
Anyway, the effects, music, and dialog all point in the same direction: the tongue-in-cheek. This really is a live-action cartoon. That’s why most of the critical response seems ironically hilarious to me. What did they expect, a serious character examination from a movie based on a cartoon/comic book series based on a toy line? Sure, it’s entirely possible to have such a thing, but why demand it?
All in all, it’s the most fun I’ve had at the movies this year since ‘Star Trek’. You’ve just got to know how to enjoy it. And knowing is half the battle!