Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Movies - GI Joe

Saw GI Joe over the weekend, and it was rather... interesting. I got the feeling during the movie that one of the design goals had been to take pot-shots at the old animated cartoon when-ever possible. While I amassed a large number of GI Joe toys in the 1980's and early 1990's, I never really got into the comic books, or the overly cheesy cartoon series. Much like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the GI Joe cartoon had a reputation for violence and misbehavior... that it didn't actually contain.

In the 1980's GI Joe cartoon, nobody ever actually got shot. Whenever GI Joe and their enemies, Cobra, met in combat, the cartoon took great pains to show everybody successfully jumping out of vehicles that were then destroyed by some of the slowest energy / optical based and concussive weaponry ever deployed. I know how fast a tank shell arrives, and at 100 yards, nobody is going to have time to unbuckle a seatbelt, jump out of a moving vehicle, and run to safety before the munition from an M1 Abram's arrives. Yet, in the GI Joe cartoon... both Cobra and Joe's had super-human level get out of the about to explode vehicle reflexes. The only time that I recall somebody actually dying in the cartoon was during the feature length animated movie.

So, with the new movie, the production team went out of their way to show off the carnage that actually occurs when GI Joe and Cobra meet head on. The result is a rather visually impressive demolition derby through downtown Paris, that culminates in the Eiffel Tower getting taken apart. While the French government seems to understand that the Joes did the best they could under the circumstances, that doesn't stop them from demanding that the Joe Team never return to France... ever... or from the primary army's recalling their soldiers... presumably to conduct a court martial.

In the same way that the movie focus's on showing that people actually do die, and do get hurt, when soldiers get involved with urban combat, the movie also took some shots at the old cartoon's ending tagline. Since GI Joe and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were airing in a time in which there was pressure for cartoons to be educational, they often had show segments were a main character would go over some basic geography or life lessons. For GI Joe, this meant that every show ended with a The More You Know / Knowing is Half the Battle segment. Far from being educational, the segments were often so over the top, you could almost hear the voice actors gagging on the verbal pap. So, for anybody who saw the old cartoons, the use of Well you said knowing was half the battle in the new movie will cause a fair bit of laughter.

What will probably grate on most movie goers nerves though is one of the catostrophically bad use of movie physics as the movie concludes... and it's something PluggedIn picked up on. Ice doesn't sink. Yet, as GI Joe winds up, the Cobra detonate a polar ice cap to crush an underwater base. What's worse is that the movie had plenty of opportunities to come up with an in-movie plausible explination about what would happen if the cover over the Cobra base was breached.

As the Joe Team moves into the base, the use of the Ice Cover itself to contain tunnels, elevators, and other support equipment for the base is commented on. The base take-down would have been much more plausible if somebody had said something to the effect of: Uh oh... they're gonna blow the ice cap. That's gonna be a couple hundred tons of equipment... landing... GUYS! GET OUT OF THERE! THE BASE IS GOING TO BE CRUSHED!

Or better yet, stick to the crazy science theme. Something along the lines of: Hey guys... you wanna know how they got the ice to hold an elevator and a launching pad? It's not exactly... ice any more. It's been treated with some kind of chemical compound. It seems the base down there is actually holding this entire structure up.

For a movie that managed to handle physics presentations better than other action movies, it just feel apart at the end.

Still, if you want a movie that's not really cerberal... that is a bunch of things going boom... GI Joe's probably the best one this year.

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