I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra

tn_gijoeNot since THE HURT LOCKER have I seen a movie that so convincingly captures the mental toll that the pressures of a war zone take on our soldiers. I’m not talking about GI JOE, I’m just saying I haven’t seen another movie like that since THE HURT LOCKER.

I don’t know what you’ve heard, I don’t know what kind of rumors are flying around, but this here is not what anybody should call a “good summer popcorn movie.” GI JOE can’t be mentioned in the same breath as JAWS or even JURASSIC PARK or even INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL, so don’t ever read this sentence out loud. But there is something unique about this movie and I would recommend it to some of you. If you’re the type of individual with room in your heart for a ridiculous movie that comes out in August that you go see in a half (or all) empty theater for a laugh, then I believe this movie will deliver for you spectacularly. For example I paid money to see STEALTH a few years ago and it was kind of funny. If STEALTH was a single this is a grand slam. I was laughing pretty much from the extravagant new Hasbro logo at the beginning to the weirdly intelligence-insulting final scene, without many lulls in between. For some of you it will be unwatchable crap, but for me it’s hilariously terrible and/or terribly hilarious.

mp_gijoeIt’s supposed to be an epic so it begins in France, 1641, and spans Asia, Africa and the polar ice caps. It includes powersuits, underwater bases, jet packs, robotic fish, ninjas, submarines, helicopters, laser cannons, asskicking supergenius babes, giant drills, Humvee bulldozers, high tech training programs, CGI polar bears, snowmobiles, experimental jets, missiles, air craft carriers, throwing stars, nanobots, mind control, invisibility suits, holograms, silly masks, the destruction of the Eiffel Tower, a secret entrance next to the pyramids (I wonder why they didn’t know about that ancient doomsday machine hidden inside the pyramid in TRANSFORMERS 2?)… all of it depicted with the help of digital effects that might qualify as state of the art in the Hong Kong film industry of several years ago. It has all kinds of stuff constantly on display but doesn’t look or feel like a modern cutting edge movie. There’s a little bit of a MORTAL KOMBAT or POWER RANGERS kind of feel in there.

I think that’s part of what makes it enjoyable, and why so many of the nerd websight guys are saying it’s “fun.” I have no idea what the fuck director Stephen Sommers is thinking, but he seems serious, and there’s something kind of charming about that fearlessness and/or cluelessness. Most modern movies take a “property” like this and instead of just running with it they try to legitimize everything, explain everything or apologize for everything. For example in that other notable adaptation from the works of Hasbro, the TRANSFORMERS saga, they’re worried about people accepting a story about robots from space so they make it about a kid trying to get laid who happens to know some robots. They don’t want to be laughed at so they have every character constantly joking, trying to keep an ironic distance. GI JOE revives the ancient tradition of the annoying comic relief character – Marlon Wayans is the one guy who makes lame jokes, the rest of the characters take everything seriously, and that makes it much funnier and more tolerable.

I can’t imagine this movie will catch on big or get the same “check your brain at the door” pass that TRANSFORMERS got, because it just does not try to be hip, ironic, modern or grounded in the real world. It says “fuck it, I’m a GI Joe movie, why lie?” So you got these characters who are not embarrassed to melodramatically spew exposition and call each other names like “Ripcord” and “Storm Shadow” and “Snake Eyes” and “Dr. Mindbender” and never stop to point out that it’s goofy or wink at the audience or any stupid shit like that. And then on the other hand you got a couple over-the-top villain characters who are just known by their first names. In one of the early scenes Duke (Channing Tatum)’s convoy is attacked by a helicopter full of robotic-looking troopers, their leader is super-hot Sienna Miller in all black leather. As she climbs into her futuristic helicopter carrying a case of stolen WMDs Duke looks at her and says “Anna?” Turns out the super terrorist he ran into is his ex-fiancee. (Next time the bad guys threaten the world he should send some of their private photos to one of those ex-girlfriend porn sights.)

Man, there’s so many flashbacks. There’s this Scottish arms dealer at the middle of the whole thing, he has a mask he keeps that was used to torture one of his ancestors in 1641 for selling weapons to the wrong people. He could easily just explain that’s why he has the mask in his office but for some reason they feel they need to show flashbacks to it. Snake Eyes (Outlaw Award winner Ray Park) is the good ninja and Storm Shadow is the bad one and they keep flashing back to them fighting each other as kids (young Storm Shadow is played by the kid who led the drug cartel in TROPIC THUNDER). Snake Eyes doesn’t speak and can do flips on top of moving vehicles and looks like his entire body was dipped in black rubber. So it made me smile whenever they’d show “the Joes” all standing together because nobody cares that one guy has black rubber muscles and mouth. He just walks around wearing that shit like it’s normal. I guess it shows that GI Joe is a safe, non-judgmental work environment for people with alternative lifestyles.

In a way the Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow rivalry subverts the usual ninja coloring system, because the good guy is dressed in black and the bad guy in white. But of course in the White Ninja tradition the good guy is the Caucasian trained in Asian ways.

Sometimes the characters set up each other’s flashbacks. One of my favorites is when Anna says “We all have regrets,” and the camera pans over to Storm Shadow looking sad. Man, nothing sadder than ninja regrets. Later Anna is the one having regrets, she keeps flashing back to her old boyfriend and you’d think somebody would notice her “oh my goodness what have I done?” face while standing in the midst of an evil planning session in an underwater lair, but if they do nobody says anything.

I bet when the actors came in to try on their costumes somebody told them to stand in front of a green screen holding a steering wheel. There’s alot of slowly rotating around these guys in the cockpits of CGI planes, helicopters and submarines.

There’s so many goofy things in the plot that don’t quite fly, like the scene where the GI Joe supercomputer has figured out who Anna is. It doesn’t seem that impressive because much earlier in the movie Duke already told them who she was and handed them a photo of her from his wallet.

The great Billy Zane lookalike Arnold Vosloo has a small role as Zartan, who is a master of disguise. We know this from when another character says “you are a master of disguise”. But he never puts on fake noses or anything, he just steals a soldier’s uniform and later wears an eyepatch. I gotta wonder how Vosloo felt about this, having played a less lazy master of disguise in DARKMAN 2-3. Seems like kind of an insult to his disguise mastery.

There’s a whole storyline about Zartan having his face transmutitated to mimic somebody, they don’t say who at first. Maybe 2/3 of the way through the movie he goes in to replace the president of the United States. Then at the very end of the movie the president starts whistling “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow,” the same song Zartan annoyingly whistled in all his other scenes. You’re supposed to be surprised that Zartan has replaced the president, even though this was clearly communicated in an earlier scene! A real head-scratcher of an ending, especially since it’s all about setting up a part 2 that I’m guessing (sadly) will never be made.

By the way the president is played by Jonathan Pryce, so this is a movie where the star of BRAZIL and Lance Henriksen’s henchman from HARD TARGET play the same character.

The bad guys have created a race of mindless soldiers who have no fear and are immune to cobra venom. I don’t know how handy that last part’s gonna be, I guess that’s just a “better safe than sorry” type feature.

Joseph Gordon Levitt (HALLOWEEN H20) plays Anna’s kid brother/Duke and Ripcord’s best friend in one scene, but he turns out to secretly (SPOILER) be an evil cyborg mad scientist working for the bad guys, and then at the end he puts on a different silly mask to become their leader. He does a cartoonish Evil Voice for the doctor character and then when he puts on the other mask (not to hide his identity by the way, since everybody knows who he is) he switches to an entirely different Evil Voice. I wonder how he decided which one was which? Did he bank on there being a sequel and save his favorite one for last? Also it’s funny because when discussing his evil plots everybody just refers to him as “Rex,” even the people who don’t know him personally. It’s all very informal.

As long as we’re talking SPOILERS I gotta say I was disappointed when Sienna Miller turned good at the end. They must’ve figured she was too hot to be evil, but paradoxically making her not evil anymore makes her less hot.

Somebody said the action scenes are good, but I don’t agree. I think people are only saying that because of TRANSFORMERS 2, QUANTUM OF SOLACE and other recent movies setting the comprehensibility bar so low. GI JOE isn’t the worst offender but its action scenes are very chaotic with lots of wobbly cameras, unnecessary closeups and quick cuts making them confusing. It seems more like sloppiness than stylization (except for a war flashback that hilariously switches to shakycam to remind you of BLACK HAWK DOWN). I thought maybe it was just me, that I’m getting too sensitive to these things, but then two people who aren’t as concerned with that issue brought it up to me and seemed to have more trouble with it than I did.

But I don’t know man, it still kept me laughing. I’m not sure exactly what to make of this fuckin thing. I’m not even sure if it “knows what it is,” and that’s what makes it interesting. It’s a kind of crappiness you’ve seen before but not on this level, not this extravagant. The effects are all low rent and cheap looking, it’s not at all the kind of spectacle that TRANSFORMERS is. But they just keep coming at you, they didn’t get lazy with it. Every 30 seconds somebody pulls out a jetpack or bursts out of a wall driving a giant drill machine or says “send in the sharks!” to deploy an army of submarines. And I’m pretty sure about 300 civilians were killed just by the good guys during the Paris chase scene.

Obviously this is some stupid shit, and I enjoyed it. So you might be asking what makes this more tolerable for me than the TRANSFORMERS movies. If not, I’m asking myself that. I already mentioned a couple reasons: it doesn’t have the constant barrage of terrible jokes (because Marlon Wayans is sometimes off screen) and it has the balls to make it about ninjas and soldiers in power suits, not a kid in a Strokes t-shirt who befriends the ninjas and soldiers in power suits. But I think it’s also that it’s not as mean-spirited. The TRANSFORMERS movies have this cruel undercurrent – Bernie Mac calling his grandma a bitch, Bumblebee smashing a girl’s head for trying to seduce whatsisdick, John Turturro getting pissed on, the soldiers scaring the Obama administration bureaucrat by tricking him into skydiving, Optimus Prime murdering the giant wheel for being on the wrong team, all the ugly racial stereotypes, etc. I didn’t sense that same hateful undercurrent in GI JOE, and I guess maybe since it all looks so low rent it seems more like the underdog you want to like instead of the rich bully pushing everybody around by having the latest ILM effects. I can’t really picture people watching this over TERMINATOR 2.

I don’t know if any of that is fair, but that’s my theory for why one moron movie rubbed me the wrong way and the other one didn’t. They might be equal in stupidity and crappiness, but this one didn’t piss me off.

It turns out GI Joe is a big thing to some males of a certain age. I know it was those dolls they used to make and then in the ’80s it was a cartoon to sell toys. I never knew anybody gave a shit until they announced this movie and some of the Ain’t It Cool talkbackers started having the same sort of zealot intensity as those homophobes who protest at soldier’s funerals. There was a cultural misunderstanding where I think I compared GI Joe to Cheetohs commercials or something and one guy was so mad he would post on all of my reviews that I had no credibility because I didn’t “get” GI Joe so nobody should listen to me and I should fuck off, etc.

Some of the more moderate GI Joeists explained that it’s not what it seems like, this is not adults getting a little too nostalgic about a cartoon they grew up on that was churned out without much care just to brainwash them into getting their parents to buy products. Serious GI Joe fans don’t like the cartoon, they only like the more nuanced long running Marvel Comics series, which was written by a Vietnam vet with a history in writing war stories who had more time to really flesh out the long histories and relationships of the characters. Also they like playing with the little dolls and what not and maybe wearing costumes. Totally innocent.

In all sincerity, I feel like these nerds sort of convinced me. I could see how this concept actually could make a cool action movie. GI Joe is this elite military team where every character has a different specialty and colorful nickname, and they have high tech weapons and fight against a colorful snake cult terrorist cell. They could be larger than life badasses like the team in PREDATOR if somebody good was making the movie. But that’s the problem I was trying to warn the Joephiliacs about: the auteur theory. If they had high hopes for this movie they should’ve taken them out to the shed for a talk as soon as they heard the director was Stephen Sommers.

I gave up on Sommers after the first MUMMY. I know some people like DEEP RISING, maybe I’ll give it another shot some day, but both of those movies were obnoxious, just steamrollering through, no rhythm or pacing, no quiet moments. Just one long, loud, pan-banging sequence that doesn’t even fade in or out. When THE MUMMY ended I had no idea that we had reached some sort of climax. It’s almost like you could play it backwards and it would be the same movie. When I think of THE MUMMY I always think of the scene in the library where for no reason Rachel Weisz clumsily knocks over all the shelves domino-style, destroying the entire library. In RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK Steven Spielberg figured an audience would be okay with his professor character having a few quiet conversations at the beginning, but Sommers doesn’t share that belief.

So I haven’t watched THE MUMMY RETURNS or VAN HELSING but this one looked too funny to miss, and I don’t regret my decision. I don’t want to call GI JOE “a masterpiece of camp” or anything like that. It’s not a masterpiece. But it’s a piece of something.

Best toy adaptation so far!

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, August 10th, 2009 at 12:39 pm and is filed under Action, Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

120 Responses to “GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra”

  1. I think this comes out over here next week. Yes, I’m one of these guys who enjoyed the silliness of “Deep Rising” and waited since then for a similar watchable Stephen Sommers movie( Or…just a watchable Stephen Sommers movie. He tries so hard, but then fails even harder. I love the idea of “Van Helsing”. I hate the result.)

  2. Goddammit, I had just managed to talk myself out of seeing this. I don’t like the Mummy movies, but for some reason I kept holding out hope that GI Joe would be the good kind of retarded I like. Then I remembered the One-Hit Wayans Rule: Every Wayans is allowed to be in exactly one good movie, and Marlon already had his (Requiem For A Dream). I just can’t handle wacky black sidekickery anymore, not after Primeval where Orlando Jones says that slavery was a good thing because it got black folks out of Africa. Seriously.

    Anyway, now I have to see GI Joe, even though I can’t really afford it. Movies cost 12 bucks or more in New York, Vern. Try to be a little more responsible with which movies you make sound awesome.

  3. It’s a pretty solid movie, I pretty much agree with Vern on this.
    And I really enjoyed all the action, there’s just so much crazy variety to everything.
    It’s way more violent than I thought it’d be too, definitley upper pg-13 territory on some of those kills.

  4. I heard it was pretty dumb but fun, though I heard the same about TF 2, so I was waiting for your review, and I might go see it now.

  5. There’s a little bit of a MORTAL KOMBAT or POWER RANGERS kind of feel in there.”

    Talk about being damned with faint praise.

    “Most modern movies take a “property” like this and instead of just running with it they try to legitimize everything, ”

    I like the rising backlash against logic in the Nerd Internet. Didn’t logic go fad after BATMAN & ROBIN? We live in cycles, whether we realize them or not.

  6. Mr. Majestyk – I would rather suggest you spend your money on something decent, I would suggest THE PERFECT GETAWAY. No not a necessarily essential viewing, but neither is GI JOE.

    Look, the director of VAN HELSING or the director of PITCH BLACK.

    This isn’t a choice.

  7. I pretty much agree with you 100% on this one. A terrible movie, but I had a blast watching it. It reminds me of something that would have been on TBS or USA constantly in the mid 90s. Unfortunately the people I saw this with were a bunch of wet blankets, so I didn’t have anyone to have fun with.

  8. “A terrible movie, but I had a blast watching it.”

    Oh boy, a definite future Rifftrax release for sure!

  9. I definitely do want to see The Perfect Getaway, but that feels more like a Netflix for me. I don’t feel that the experience of watching it will be affected one way or the other by seeing it on my obsolete square TV, while I suspect that the true ridiculousness of GI Joe can only be achieved on the big screen.

    And lest we forget, Twohy is also the director of Riddick.

  10. RRA – I don’t see any evidence of the backlash against logic. I think people now days have no appreciation for absurdity, which is why I don’t think this will do well. But I could be wrong.

  11. I saw this on the weekend and had a good time too. I actually think this movie successfully overcomes its own casting pretty well.

    The bad guys were all pretty charismatic. I found the Scottish dude the weakest of the villains, but even he was giving it a good effort.

    I thought none of the heroes were really very charismatic actors. There was a time when Lee Marvin would recruit the likes of Charles Bronson and a bunch of other great badasses. Then there came a time a when Lee Marvin lowered his standards and recruited Chuck Norris and a bunch of extras. I figured since they CGI’d everything else in this movie they could animate Lee Marvin too. But it seems Dennis Quaid is this generation’s idea of authoritative gruffness and a Brendan Frasier cameo is treated like it adds macho cred (?).

    But despite the cast feeling like a bunch of kids who should stick to One Tree Hill or whatever it is they normally do, this movie is just as fun as Vern says it is. And I thought the action in Paris was actually really well shot, everything else was a little shakey.

    I also think they must’ve watched Firefox and decided it wasn’t hard enough that Clint Eastwood think in Russian to pilot a magic jet, in this they actually had to push it further and have a jet that only responds to commands in a language that died before jets, missiles, and ejector seats were invented. If they do a sequel with an army of Gaelic speaking cyborgs, I nominate Mel Gibson as special guest director for those scenes.

  12. Majestyk – “And lest we forget, Twohy is also the director of Riddick.”

    Yes because one tosser out of 4 can not overcome Sommers and his one watchable out of 4.

    When did .750 batting average become better than .250?

    Vern – If you mean COMMANDO or SHOOT’EM UP absurdity, then alright that makes sense for me, and I’m there. Just the backlash at TDK I’ve detected is weird so sorry that I generalized. I seem to have that bad tendency.

    Its almost like the spillage of folks who want to excuse group-liking TRANSFORMERS 2 is leaking over and not just somehow the magic hands of Baynito Michaelini. Weird really.

  13. Yeah, the “hateful” tone in Bay movies like TRANSFORMERS really pisses me off, but when I try to explain it to people they just don’t understand. There is a gleeful stupidity in GI JOE that’s kind of appealing. Also, giving Snake Eyes a mouth looks really weird.

  14. love the shit out of those first 2 sentences.
    bout to watch Hurt Locker now.

  15. I’m keeping this for a DVD rental , I’ve already decided . I’m going to spend my money on District 9 , but I don’t know when is coming out here in Italy …BUT Vern pointed out some interesting things . I’m really dying to see a modern day ninja movie , or a modern big budget movie WITH ninja in it , and according to Vern all the ninja elements are in place : flashbacks , training scenes ( like the Octagon and American Ninja ) , hilarious gadgets and less-confusing-action than usual . Plus with all this flashbacks , it seems they’re at least trying to add a little more depth to the characters. After Transformers , consider me impressed. I played with the toys when I was young , but G.I. Joe is something I’ve left behind for good , now I’m only looking to have some fun….with added ninjas .

  16. “I am debating seeing GI Joe tonight but…Power Suits? Duke didnt need a God Damned power suit when I was a kid and he does not need one now.” – Samoa Joe

    Are you gonna tell Samoa Joe to his face that he’s wrong?

  17. RRA, I’m not saying Summers is better than Twohy. I don’t particularly give a shit about either of them. I think Perfect Getaway looks good, but it doesn’t have ninjas and jetpacks.

  18. Yeah I’ve got a good feeling about this and I don’t know why. Half the reviews are good, half of them are shit and I avoided Transformers 2 but i dunno… the trailer has a nano-gun and a guy doing a flip out off of a moving car and in the AV Club review they say ‘a guy expresses his sadness by driving a motorcycle slowly while wearing sunglasses and black leather’.

    I dunno… it just seems like good clean stupid fun. YO JOE!

  19. I’m surprised nobody has brought up the trick that Paramount used regarding early screenings: None for MSM critics, but yes for the geek bloggers. Just saying, that might just explain most of the early positive reviews.

    Mr. Majestyk – If this is football, and you’re a Quarterback and think you have a clear lane, don’t be surprised if a 300 pound linebacker out of nowhere makes you eat grass. You’re Joe Theisman, I’m Lawrence Taylor.

    Just saying, be careful with the logic in the argumention you sow. They might turn out to be weeds.

  20. I read all the above and only two explanations come to mind:

    either people in the Western Hemisphere have so much time on their hand, or the quality requirements have fallen -this- close to the “jingling keys” paradigm.

    I have books, comics, video games, the world library of cinema, f*cking, walking the dog . . . heck, laundry is higher on the list before allowing Stephen Sommers any more of my time. Ever.

    Then again, simply dangling a shiny object before my eyes will not keep me entertained. Unless it’s a wet pair of tits bathed in moonlight. Yeah. That would keep me entertained for 2 hours.

    Respectfully baffled,
    SirV

  21. RRA, I don’t know what that means. I just kind of want to see the stupid ninja jetpack movie.

  22. Majestyk – Which is fine I suppose, but instead of 12 bucks, why not save some and wait for video? Stupidity translates multi-media.

    Then again, Foywonder takes pride in the movies he’s paid to see. But that’s his job, reviewing bad movies that nobody (not even me) would waste his time with, much less acknowledge…like TRANSMORPHERS or that awful STREET FIGHTER sequel/prequel/whatever from the director of CRADLE 2 THE GRAVE.

    Are you ready?

  23. Stephen Sommers has got to hold the record of most horrifying onscreen deaths to least amount of actual blood shown in film history. There were at least 3 instances in G.I. Joe alone of someone’s head getting blown up/off and just popping like a bag of air. The second Mummy movie has more horrible shit happening than any given Saw, but it’s so totally bloodless and slapstick-y that it doesn’t even register. Combine that with a lack of boobs and cussing and you’ve got the Lucio Fulci of lukewarm PG-13 action.

    In his defense he’s now made a shockingly ok G.I. Joe movie, and always manages to get Kevin J. O’Conner a paycheck, so I suppose I can’t really hate the man.

  24. What a coincidence, just got back from seeing this myself (did a double-feature with ‘Some Like It Hot’).

    Since AICN set up this rule, one must not break it. As a result I’m sorry but I have to start off with my personal history with the director or property or something. Sorry but “thems da rule.”

    I really dug ‘Deep Rising’ and ‘The Mummy’. I thought ‘Rising’ was a fun cheesy B-monster movie and, shitstorm a-coming my way!, I thought ‘Mummy’ did old serials better than the piece of shit ‘Temple of Doom’ tried to be.

    Then he did ‘The Mummy Returns’ which sucked and ‘Van Helsing’ which also sucked. Both movies had things in there I liked, but I thought they were overlong and ‘Helsing’ had an unlikable lead. I’m never gonna say Sommers is a great, or even good, summer blockbuster filmmaker but I have always somewhat stood by his side and said I’d take him anyday over the week over Michael Bay and his ilk. Sommers may suck and make bad movies but he shows more imagination, and something resembling fun, in one half-hour block than Michael Bay can churn out in his 5 1/2 epic motion pictures.

    When Bay got ‘Transformers’ and Sommers got ‘Joe’ I even said that Hasbro/Paramount must have fucked up and accidentally got the memos confused and gave the wrong director the wrong movies (just half-joking of coarse, Bay would have fucked up a Joe film even with his military-fetish)

    So I guess this makes a minor-Sommers defender I guess.

    -This is where the reflections this motion picture actually begin, like I said I should have just skipped straight here but rules are rules

    When the movie first started up my initial reaction was that it wasn’t very good. Waynes annoyed, our lead hero is one of the most bland leading men I think I’ve ever witnessed in a movie before, and it was kind of dumb but I wasn’t having any fun and as a result I was just bored. I was ready to chalk this one up as another failure and say well at least ‘Revenge of the Fallen’ had like a robot for every other scene to composite for the boredom and badness. That is until a scene about 30-to-40 minutes in.

    When the flashback scene in which Young Snake Eyes and Young Storm Shadow are fighting and Sommers films it like a real gritty knock-down/drag-out fight. As if it was the most badass screen fight in movie history. I just started laughing out loud uncontrollably. I didn’t stop after that.

    From there we get one of the most ridiculous chase scenes I’ve ever seen in a big-budget studio picture, the revelation of a very over-complicated plot (so Baroness married the French guy just so he could activate the bombs?!), Ninjas!, Saturday-morning cartoon villains (and they’re better by default because it’s live action and not a cartoon! that means it’s more mature!), Ninja blowing up missiles with motorcycles, robot fish… There is just too much awesomeness in this movie to list or talk about here.

    Needless to say my friend, nephew, and I had a complete and total blast at this thing.

    The fact that my friend and I viewed this film just after watching ‘Some Like It Hot’ to see the evolution of cinema just made it all the better.

    -my only complaint about the film comes from a silly feminist point-of-view: Scarlet is introduced getting harmed by soldiers and then makes up for it by showing what a strong female she is, then they ruin it by making her emotional (because she’s a woman ya see) and then forcing her to hook up with Waynes just so she could have a love interest (because she’s a woman ya see). Baroness isn’t evil, she was forced to be evil but thankfully the power of her love for the most boring lead in a movie ever fights the nanobots and makes her a good girl, and then she has a love interest and promptly put in her place.

  25. RRA

    ‘Street Fighter: Legend of Chun Li’ is almost worth watching just for Chris Klein. If they made movie about his character it would have been a great movie. Unfortunately they focused on the lady from ‘Smallville’ playing a strange ethnic version of Benjamin Button stuck in a really bad low-rent ‘Batman Begins’ knockoff.

    -also it’s not a sequel or prequel to the original film with Van Damme and Julia, please do not insult that wonderful film (which in itself was a GI Joe movie before this one was made) by insulting it saying it is related to the new one in other way than name.

    –never saw ‘Transmorphers’ though, learned my lesson after wacthing Asylum Entertainment’s ‘Snakes on a Train’

  26. Once again you made me literally laugh out loud friendo. Can’t say I was able to enjoy the absurdities of the actual movie on the same level as you. I found it to be a pretty worthless megaturd cause boss, I’m just in all out Jihaad mode against big, loud, dumb action movies that can’t so much as get the ACTION part right. I mean to go to the trouble of getting the awesome Ray Park to play your silent ninja bad!$$, and then ginsuing all his fight scenes into jumbled visual noise. But I digress… Thanks for another awsome review boss.

  27. I fucking liked GI Joe.

    It was like sex with a larger lady. Once you get over what you are actually doing and who you are doing it with, there is enjoyment to be had.

    And dammit Vern, I’m telling you, watch Mummy Returns. A good half of the movie is shit, but there are some over the top ridiculous things like pygmie mummies and Fraser monologues in the dark. Is there any other?

  28. I couldn’t figure out a place to talk about a subject that’s bothering me. Has anybody here seen pictures or the bootleg trailer for “Kick Ass.” This might be the most uncomfortable looking movie I’ve ever seen. I can’t be the only person that thought that having a young girl dressed in a school girl uniform or leather shooting a gun isn’t going to bring out some really sick people. There will probably be at least one person in every showing who is secretly masturbating in their pants. Nor do I want to see it and have anybody think that I’m the one secretly masturbating in my pants. It’s just feels like a movie that shouldn’t exist. I can’t be the only person to think that.

  29. Lawrence
    It’s based off of a funny book. Those scary people you’re describing is its industry’s prime demographic: nerds

  30. RRA : There’s a Snakes on a Train ?

  31. ( After checking Youtube and IMDB for trailers and info…….)

    Yes , and this must be the most fantastic story synopsis ever :

    “A Zombie curse is placed upon a woman, which causes her to have living snakes inside her.”

    All of the above inside a train ! With a giant Snake EATING the train !
    The only thing missing is Casey Fucking Ryback!

  32. Yup!

    From our good buddies, I’m sure, at Asylum Entertainment

    http://www.theasylum.cc/

    The studio that brought you:
    Transmorphers
    AVH: Alien Vs Hunter
    Street Racer
    18-Year Old Virgi
    The Terminators
    War of the Worlds II: The Next Wave

    I’ve only seen ‘Snakes On A Train’ so for all I know that was just a mere misstep on what I’m sure is the studios prestigious filmography.

    -I can tell you that ‘Train’ was really boring rather than awesomely horrible. From reviews I’ve read of their other titles, they follow suite so I have not been in a hurry to check the others out.

  33. I have no intention of seeing any asylum films, but I still like that there are hucksters like that around in the film business.

  34. So anyone produced The Sperminator yet?

  35. What is Joseph Gorden Levitt doing in this piece of crap? First Havoc now this ?

    I am losing faith in this guy.

    Watching a Sommers´ movie is like getting repeatedly kicked in the nuts. No thanks.

  36. I checked out Transmorphers to test my theory that it would be better than Transformers. It’s a 2/10 movie at best but at least you can tell what is going on with the CGI, so yes it is in fact better than Transformers. I honestly think Vern would reach the same conclusion and I encourage him to repeat the experiment and peer-review my findings.

    I would do the same experiment with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Transmorphers: Fall of Man, but that would require me to actually watch the former. I have a feeling the result would be the same, but that the Asylum offering would win even more convincingly.

  37. What makes Transmorphers interesting is just how inept it really is. For instance, the movie was shot without sound, and all the dialogue was dubbed in later, which is a reasonable way to save money, but the thing is that they forgot to put in some of the lines. So, you’ll have somebody move his mouth without making any sound, and everybody acts like he just said something. It’s weird.

    They also occasionally forget to put in a lot of the laser effects and some of the sound effects. This tends to make the battle scenes completely hilarious.

  38. Full discosure: I may have been asleep during some part of my viewing of Transmorphers. I maintain that it is better than Transformers, though.

  39. Andrew

    I’ll view the epic ‘Transmorphers’ saga if you recommend it (kinda)

    But forgive me for being a bit skeptical.

    It is in my experience that when a patron of the internet insists the low-rent/blatantly awful version is superior to the big budgeted Hollywood counterpart, they are trying to be ‘cooler than you’ and ‘rebellious’ and ‘nerd cool’ (aka ‘The ads told me love the new Hollywood movie but that’s a product of the corporations man! Oh look a cheapie knockoff! W… Well you know what corporation? That cheapie knockoff is in fact better! Now give me an internet high five!”

    Example:

    When ‘Fantastic Four’ came out, a whole huge slew of, how should say?, “fans” came out and started insisting the old unreleased Roger Corman-produced ‘Fantastic Four’ was in fact better. They would go into extreme detail explaining this, but instead of swaying me, who has seen the Corman-produced version, that they were full of shit and just wanted to be ‘different’ and show how ‘rebellious’ they are and also how kitch-cool they were by supporting the small independent-production rather than the big ‘ole evil Hollywood version.

    This is not true all the time, but on the internet (and comic book shops) it is true 99.9% of the time.

    But I (still) trust people here, so if you recommend ‘Transmorphers’ as an alternate to ‘real’ movies, I’ll gvie them a shot.

    -your admission that you have slept for part of ‘Transmorphers’ does not encourage me though, Bay’s movies may be a lot of things (way overlong being one of them) but boring (the biggest offense a movie can commit can commit in my mind) is not one of them. I have never fallen asleep in any of my viewings of the ‘Transformers’ films or Bay’s other opuses.
    –Example: I absolutely hated ‘Snakes on a Plane’ but I’ll watch that film any day than ever give the boring & lame ‘Snakes on a Train’ a go again. Sorry if I’m being pro-corporate there

  40. The only Asylum movie I’ve seen was Megashark vs. Giant Octopus. This may come as a shocker, but it was not very good. I think I get the gist of what Asylum’s M.O. is: Create enough cheesy but colorful CGI effects to populate a trailer, then reuse those same six or seven shots in the movie a dozen times each. But when one of the effects shots in question is a shark the size of a battleship plucking a 747 out of midair, I guess I’m okay with it.

  41. Wow , I’ve seen a lot of this Asylum stuff , even without knowing !!

    AVH: Alien Vs Hunter- I think it’s hilarious that there are aliens everywhere , but the cast , including William Katt , is always casually walking in the woods from place to place , talking and arguing like nothing happened.

    Transmorphers : A Terminator/Transformers clone , but with a throwaway lesbian love story , an ex-wrestler and no gun sounds. Plus one of the characters , in this post-apocalyptic wasteland , is worried about her career !!!

    The Terminators : Their weak spot is NOT a supercomputer , a reactor or a database : is an ON/OFF switch in one of the walls of the space station , and is so TOTALLY unguarded that the dumbest of the characters finds it while running away in fear ! Congratulations , dipshit , you just saved mankind !

    I think you CAN’T do all of the above by accident , the goal of this guys IS to make the most hilarious , incompetent , unnecessary rip-offs of all time . That’s something .

  42. I don’t know, man. Go to the IMDB page of one of the Asylum’s house directors (I don’t know what his name is off the top of my head) and you will find multiple threads of him vigorously defending the technical merit of his work. He’s definitely not all “Ha ha, it’s just goofy crap, who cares?” (Jim Wynorski-style). He’s more like, “You try and make a decent sci-fi movie for 300 grand with a Bulgarian crew, asshole.” Which is a good point. I doubt I’d be able to do it. I also doubt I’d try.

  43. Maybe he’s doing that to add to the joke, I dunno, that seems unlikely though.

    I had a blast with G.I. Joe for all the reasons already mentioned and word is Paramount are happy enough with its performance so far that they will go ahead with “The Cobra rises a bit more” or whatever, hooray!

  44. I know that some of the Asylum workers left last year when their contracts ran out and opened their own DTV production company. They said they wanna make now good movies and hated all the crap that they were forced to make at The Asylum. I think their first movie, a Werewolf Vs. Vampires flick starring Mark Dacascos as the leader of an evil Vampire cult, is about to hit ScyFiy this fall.

  45. If your interested in reading more about the asylum’s work, I suggest heading over to foywonder.com, that guy has reviewed every single one of their movies and has probably done more publicity for them than any other person online. And their movies are uniformly awful, so I recommend skipping the movies and just reading the hilarious reviews.

  46. Good for them. However, when their inaugural production is a werewolf/vampire movie made for SyFy, I’m not 100% certain they’re following through on their mission statement.

    I actually just watched an old Mark Dacascos movie last night: Only The Strong. It’s probably the most hilariously 90s thing I’ve ever seen. I didn’t realize that the 90s could be just as funny as the 80s. He plays this ex-Green Beret who imparts the value of self-respect on a group of mutli-culti inner-city youth by teaching them capoeira. It’s just so earnest and positive and full of unity and tolerance that it’s like if Arrested Development (the hip-hop group, not the show) remade Lean On Me as a kung fu movie.

  47. I concur Mr. Majestyk

    ‘Only The Strong’ is by-far the second best Dacascos movie after ‘Drive’

    -sorry not a ‘Brotherhood of the Wolf’ fan, I tried though dammit!

    Pacman Fever
    I wouldn’t hold my breath and say it’s part of the joke. Most filmmakers (good and bad) are huge snobs and will insist they made a great movie (under the circumstances) and that you’re not a filmmaker so you don’t know what you’re talking about!
    -I’ve run intothis ‘only filmmakers should critique films’ argument so many times and of coarse when a filmmaker does critique another film the offended will go a huge rant about how the critiquing filmmaker is a hack and doesn’t know what they are talking about.
    –Example: See our friend Dr. Uwe Bollwho will insist to you all his films are great or at the least better than every single big-budget Hollywood film ever made

    Back on topic:
    I really hope this does good enough to get us a GI Joesph II, the world needs more awesome movies like this! (that is if the sequel continues the absurdity of this one).

  48. Geoffreyjar, I believe the box for CARNOSAUR has a quote from Film Threat saying it’s better than JURASSIC PARK. My one disagreement with that is that it is not better than JURASSIC PARK. I’m with your friends though, I did enjoy the bootleg of Roger Corman FANTASTIC FOUR more than the Jessica Alba one. I mean both are cheesy but that was a more enjoyable cheesy.

  49. Doe anyone else find it weird that between Transformers (about giant transforming Robots from outer space) and G.I. Joes (about a bunch of military specialists) it’s Transformers that seems like the xenophobic, fascist, military-fetishistic one?

    Seems like if G.I. Joe could make the military seem like goofy fun in 2009, Transformers should have been able to be AT LEAST as harmless. Sometimes life is weird like that.

  50. Doe anyone else find it weird that between Transformers (about giant transforming Robots from outer space) and G.I. Joes (about a bunch of military specialists) it’s Transformers that seems like the xenophobic, fascist, military-fetishistic one?

    Seems like if G.I. Joe could make the military seem like goofy fun in 2009, Transformers should have been able to be AT LEAST as harmless. Sometimes life is unpredictable like that.

  51. Mr Majestik, that Werewolf movie (Which is, as I found out, called “Wolvesbayne”, is also starring Christy Carlson-Romano, who played Shia LaBeouf’s sister, back in that Disney Channel show and was directed by Stephen Furst’s son Griff) was not made FOR SciFi. They are just showing it. (And I even heard that it’s already on some On Demand Channels in the US)

  52. argh! double-post! I hang my head in shame.

  53. Fair enough. But man, am I sick of vampires. They’re the fucking sellouts of horror, used to appeal to the outsider instincts of misfit 13-year-old girls who like pretty, androgynous manboys but can’t handle the Jonas Brothers. I never, ever want to see another sexy vampire who can’t help it that he’s a monster. He’s just misunderstood, you see, and it makes him awful broody and sensitive. Can’t you tell by the way his hair flops just so? And he doesn’t burst into flames in sunlight, he just gets all sparkly like a Trapper Keeper. If your vampires aren’t evil fucking hideous blood-sucking beasts, then I am not interested.

  54. Well I think some of the Asylum movies are incompetent and quick cash-ins , but I think IT IS worth your time to actually keep an eye on them.Look at it this way , 30 years ago Corman was using the same “business strategy” : Jaws 1975 -> Piranha 1978 , Jurassic Park 1993 -> Carnosaur 1993. But James Cameron got his start with him , so who knows what is in store for us. Speaking of Corman , I’m one of those guys who enjoyed more his Fantastic Four than the recent remake . It was goofy and low budget , but with more respect of the source material . I’m not a F4 reader , but I’m a big fan of DR Doom , and at least his story in the Corman movie is the same as the comics (and , yes , it was an over the top villain stereotype , but that was the idea of a comic book movie at the time ). I also think that the Thing looked better in Cormanastic Four……

  55. Well it has been years since I saw the Corman 4, I only saw it once like back in 1998 or ’99.

    If you guys are saying I’m wrong then I’m game for re-watching it. It wouldn’t be the first time I took back a negative review. In fact some of the movies I really admire now (X-Men or Star Wars) or at least have a great interest in (Superman Returns) I didn’t like (sometimes venomously so) the first time.

    After ‘GI Joe’ got me so high on ‘absurd / cheesy’ films I may be just ripe to view it right now.

    -Off memory I will say they had a better Dr. Doom. What a colossal mess-up that was turning Doom into a generic business man (yeah ‘Joe’ did it too with Destro, but they at least still had fun with him and cast Doctor Who to boot!). My wannabe/failed writer friend and huge comic book nerd has a theory that for this type of film you hang alot on your villain and for him that’s where the new 4 made it’s biggest mistake

    –He also says it shits all over Jack Kirby, but I disagree it’s actually relatively faithful to the source material for the most part (just like Dragonball: Evolution, accept it fanboys) unless of coarse he meant it shit all over Kirby because it sucked. If so, then yeah it totally shits all over Kirby.

  56. Mr. Subtlety

    Like I said in my first post for this talkback: They gave the wrong films to the wrong directors (though Bay would have still fucked up Joe)

    Mr. Majestyk

    We don’t get the ‘bad boys’ complex because we are not female. Thanks to our ‘manly genes’ we cannot possibly comprehend the thinking that goes into what makes complete and total assholes both attractive and alluring and how they actually think they can ‘change them’.

    This in turn is a ‘guy thing’

    -which brings up an interesting point… so vern you reviewing ‘New Moon: Twilight part II’?
    –just kidding

  57. No, guys have the “She is totally bat-shit crazy so she needs a big strong manly man like me to protect her” thing. It’s equally as retarded, but at least we don’t devote 95% of our narratives to this fallacy/fantasy the way females do. Mostly we just like watching stuff break.

  58. geoffreyjar : The Corman Four is NOT a good movie in any way , especially if you’re a fan of the comics . It’s just more watchable than the new one . Dr Doom in the comics is always an unpredictable menace to anyone , including his allies , is a flawed individual with the biggest ego in the Marvel universe with a score to settle and never ending ambitions. He’s an enemy of everyone , not only F4, and I remember reading of him first in Iron Man , the Avengers and Doctor Strange. He SKINNED his girlfriend to make a new armor for himself , goddammit ! In Cormanastic 4 , he’s just a villain with an absurd plan . Still I remember that they added some nice touches , like concealed blades in his gloves.

  59. Did someone bring up CARNOSAUR???

    Off-topic, but I remember as a kid when of all people, Gene Siskel defended CARNOSAUR on TV, the same with CLASS OF 1999.

  60. One Guy From Andromeda

    August 11th, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    i am sure i got more enjoyment out of the five minutes reading this article than i will get out of watching the movie…

  61. Mr. Majestyk: Whenever I get sick of hearing about TWILIGHT emo sparkly vampires I just pop in NEAR DARK. It’s the perfect antidote to all these girly vampire movies.

    RRA: I haven’t seen any of the CARNOSAUR movies but I did see RAPTOR, which clumsily edits together all the dino-footage from CARNOSAUR 1-3 into a confusing cinematic mess. It’s awful but it does make for a fun spot-the-continuity-error drinking game. You will get smashed, I guarantee.

  62. It is in my experience that when a patron of the internet insists the low-rent/blatantly awful version is superior to the big budgeted Hollywood counterpart, they are trying to be ‘cooler than you’ and ‘rebellious’ and ‘nerd cool’ (aka ‘The ads told me love the new Hollywood movie but that’s a product of the corporations man! Oh look a cheapie knockoff! W… Well you know what corporation? That cheapie knockoff is in fact better! Now give me an internet high five!”

    Yes, yes. I DID point out that Transmorphers is a 2/10 movie. I.e, a very bad movie. I didn’t say I “ironically” liked it. No soul patches or hornrims here, pal. In fact, I would accuse the people who defend the two Transformers movies of the whole ironic liking thing (actually I already did accuse them of that in the TF2 comments).

    The reason that it’s posible at all for Transmorphers to be better than Transformers is that most of people’s objections to Transformers have nothing to do with budget – they have to do with Michael Bay’s meanness and sleaziness and ugliness, with his unnecessary choice to focus on peripheral characters rather than just getting on with the job of being a robot flick, and with his choice to present the action scenes in such a way that you can’t actually parse what is going on.

    Hence the bar is lowered to the point where all a film has to do is NOT be mean and sleazy and NOT give a teen romance subplot 80% of the screentime and it’s at least in with a shot.

  63. Andrew

    I can’t tell if you’re merely explaining yourself or you’re pissed off at me

    I’m very sorry if I offended you and you thought my response was rude and I was calling you out on something or insulting/profiling you or something.

    As one who was underwhelmed by the Transformers (though as stated in that film’s talkback I think I have a bit of fondness for the second one, though it seems to be less so now post-Joe) and since I trust and respect my fellow talkbackers here, I saw that you said Transmorphers was superior so that convinced me to finally give into my curiosity and view them (in other words take you up on your recommendation/challenge that after viewing them one will feel they are superior to the ‘real’ films).

    As I often do I decided to take that post and use it as a jumping off point to rant about internet culture and/or maybe spark a discussion. This time I decided it to also give a reason as to why I may disagree with you when I do view the movies.

    I could have worded it better for sure. Usually when I talk about internet culture/users I am specifying the ‘norm’ or other websites and not the level-headed users that congregate here.

    Your second post gave very good reasons as to why/how one could (and maybe even should) like the ‘Transmorphers’ over ‘Transformers’. Your first post merely set up the recommendation and it reminded me of reading reviews or comments at sites such as Stomp Tokyo or Agony Boothe where they merely go ‘It sucks but it’s better than the big-budget one because it’s indie!’ (or low-budget).

    I would not knowingly or purposely insult anyone who comes here by lumping them in with the rest of the internet. So I apologize, I should have worded my post better or maybe just ignored the rant all together this time around.

  64. geoffreyjar – No personal offense taken – I understand your distrust and was happy to clarify my stance!

    I’m certainly not one of these folks who thinks money automatically = evil. If I were, I would have to hate Jaws, Star Wars etc so eff that. Also the makers of Transmorphers are blatantly going after the money so you can hardly assert any moral superiority on their part even if you do attach moral value to money.

  65. Ah okay good to hear. I really don’t want to want to offend anybody.

    My rant was mainly geared toward the Stomp Tokyo, Jabootu, Agony Boothe crowd. A bad example because they hate everything. They somehow think that makes them the next Mike Nelson or Joel Hodgson or maybe even one of the other no-name guys from MST3K or at least they think that hating everything for no real reason (or very nit-picky reasons) makes them hilarious fellows.

    That said there are still people out there who will insist these Asylum films are better because they are indie. They will argue that even if they are blatant cash-grabs, at least it’s ‘the little guy’ getting the money! I’d rather support something that I actually like or respect personally. They have all the pretentiousness and unlikeability of film snobs but instead they defend blatant shit instead of low-budget/art house/foreign shit.

    misc
    The Carnosaur trilogy sucks, but it is unique in that I think it improves with each entry (blasphemy alert – kind of like how I feel about the Evil Dead trilogy (they improving part, not the sucking part). Raptor is a winner just for the sheer goofiness of it being comprised almost solely of stock footage and having Eric Roberts in it.

    vern
    How did you come across the 1994 Fantastic Four. I imagine that is a movie you only see if you seek it out. As a big-time anti-nerd-shit and anti-superhero proponent… How’d you end up seeing it? Not insinuating anything now…

    F4’94 update:
    Youtube has the whole movie up (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omKd_bUQlXo&feature=related) and instead of doing that pesky project or studying for that silly final exam next week I think I’ll watch that instead. Gearing it up now!

  66. -forgot to give an example!

    Those who would defend Asylum as artists are usually disciples of Lloyd Kaufman who eagerly dictates and preaches that you should not give Hollywood any passes at all and that all their movies suck and you should support (awful) independent movies instead because they were made from the heart and for the art of it all or something…

    As I said I’d rather defend and promote something good.

  67. fuck you vern, now i have to go see this piece of shit. thanks for nothing bud.

  68. Have a drink and quit discriminating.

    Fucking internet.

  69. ok i will have that drink. i enjoyed maybe the first hour of van helsing so i make no claim to good taste.

  70. What’s the matter with irony? This is a terrible world we live in, full of awful things and horrible people. If you can’t learn to laugh at them, it’s going to be a tough life.

    Besides, I will point out that every single person on this site is a fan of On Deadly Ground. None of us can claim to be above irony.

  71. i concur with the above.

    “yo, geronimo!”:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vk5pcjCwyQ

  72. Majestyk – it’s not irony that’s the problem, it’s the tyranny of ONLY irony. Not enough people (or movies) are sincere these days. It’s much more common to be smarmy and sarcastic than to wear your heart on your sleeve. I think we need a little more balance.

    But the specific issue with GI JOE is not quite irony vs. sincerity. It’s like that thing I always complain about with NATIONAL TREASURE. They present this ridiculous premise (there’s a treasure map in invisible ink on the back of the Declaration of Independence) and we think “ha ha, I want to see that ridiculous premise.” But then you go watch the movie and all the characters are constantly saying shit like “Next thing you’re gonna be telling me there’s Bigfoot and you got cornholed by aliens, ha ha ha what a silly idea!” They’re too ashamed of their idea to actually make a movie out of it so they have to constantly have an escape clause of pointing out that it’s a moronic idea and that you are a moron for paying money to see it and don’t worry they’re in on it, don’t make fun of them. I was glad that GI JOE didn’t do any of that, it just said “yeah, we got a ninja on a jetpack, what the fuck are you gonna do about it?”

  73. Mr. M — I like On Deadly Ground in a non-ironic way. Cheesy as it is, the plot makes sense, it has a great over-the-top hatable villain, some solid action, some great on-location photography, and some unique elements which you just don’t see all that often, especially in action films. Although its completely ridiculous, I appreciate Seagal’s earnestness and his committment to excellence in this case, and under the right circumstances I can usually pull myself out of the meta level and appreciate the movie in its own right.

    I mean, I enjoy it much more than most of his late-career cheapies, which arguably have more laughs in them. Although its kind of an akward “message” film, I’d have to say I don’t find it much more inherently ridiculous than most action films, just a bit more unusual.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with irony, either. As you say, sometimes its the only defense we have against the shockingly cruel stupidity of the world. But as far as movies are concerned, irony sometimes gets in the way of enjoying thngs based on their merit, which can cheapen the overall experience. I mean, there’s plenty to laugh at in the Godfather if you want to get down to it, but I think it’s more satisfying to just enjoy it. I think that’s Vern’s point and the one which repeated down here too.

    Of course, with something like “GI Joe” maybe appreciating it on a meta level IS going to be more enjoyable, so there you have it, heh.

  74. Vern — I agree. Although sometimes it’s worth watching a movie ironically, I think I’ll always appreciate something made earnestly a lot more than some kind of smirking, cowardly shit that tries to have it both ways. If you don’t think your movie is completely cool and worthwhile, why would anyone else? And why make it? If you think what you’re doing is beneath you, then the only reason to make it is because you assume people watching it will be stupider than you. And if you’re playing that game, why try very hard at all to make it cool? CAN you even make something cool if you don’t believe in it? It’s what we call “Striving for Excellence,” folks.

  75. But that’s the great thing about irony: it often leads to earnest enjoyment. A few years ago, I started downloading all this cheesy eighties rock because I thought it was funny. Now I have to admit that I love it on its own terms. There are few things in life better than walking down the street rocking out to the Rad soundtrack.

    Personally, I don’t really give a shit whether my enjoyment of something is ironic or not. A good time is a good time. I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. There are just movies I enjoy watching and movies I don’t.

    However, you’re kidding yourself if you say you don’t have any ironic appreciation of On Deadly Ground. It is an awesome movie with many legitimately great parts, but the vision quest sequence and “essence of a man” scene were supposed to be some real serious shit, yet we all know that they’re hilarious. Therefore, your reaction is the opposite of what was intended, which is the definition of irony. However, since you actually like the movie and are not mocking it, your appreciation is genuine. I guess what I’m saying is, irony does not have to be a distancing factor. Without having some sense of the absurdity involved, many great action and horror movies would be unwatchable. Any time you applaud a movie for either using or subverting genre cliches, you’re having an ironic reaction. You have stepped outside the narrative and taken a metatextual view.

    What can I say? We live in a post-modern world. It’s very hard to take something completely at face value these days.

  76. I wouldn’t quite describe my fondness for “On Deadly Ground” as “ironic” to be honest. Is my fondness for it disproportianate to how good a movie it “really” is? Yes. Do I understand why it was nominated for all those Razzies*? Yes. But it’s not a simple matter of laughing at the movie, there’s more to it than that. I could elaborate, but Mr. Subtlety summed the rest of it up quite nicely. I think it’s possible to realise something is “bad” on many conventional levels, but still enjoy it in a manor which isn’t strictly ironic. I wouldn’t say my enjoyment of G.I. Joe was ironic per say either.

    *Although the Razzies do suck

  77. And you’ve also summed up my feelings quite well too. I really should check what the most recent post is just before I do.

  78. Yeah, fuck the Razzies. They just pick on the same people every year. Madonna had a two-line role in Die Another Day but she still won Worst Supporting Actress that year because they have such a hard-on for her. It’s disrespectful to all the actresses out there who worked their asses of to give far worse performances.

  79. I also love ON DEADLY GROUND in a non-ironic way for the reasons Mr. Subtlety mentioned. Things like that bar fight are great because I’ve never seen a fight scene end that way. I almost always know exactly how a fight scene is gonna go, but that one is impossible to predict. I love when a film can surprise me. Yes, it is ridiculous, which some people equate with bad filmmaking, but I generally equate it with great filmmaking because it is surprising. Though I have to agree with Mr. Majestyk that some things in the film make me laugh in a way that was probably not intended by the filmmakers. Maybe there should be a new word for that kind of mostly sincere but partially ironic enjoyment.

    Also interesting to me are movies like THE WICKER MAN remake which many people think they are laughing at ironically, not realizing it is supposed to be funny. As Nicolas Cage said, “It amazes me how many times I saw people use the phrase ‘unintentional comedy’ when talking about that movie. For god’s sake, I kick Leelee Sobieski in the throat while wearing a bear suit. How unintentional can the comedy be?” It seems to me like this might be related to the “tyranny of irony” Vern mentions. People are so used to things being presented ironically that when a movie doesn’t wink at the audience they assume it is being completely serious and it is up to them to apply the irony. Or maybe people just like the sense of superiority that comes with irony, I don’t know.

  80. Mr M — no no, I don’t mean that I don’t have any appreciation for irony. I think it pretty much goes without saying that anyone who purchased “Seagology” has an appreciation for irony. Irony makes things fun, and yeah, in a postmodern world, its pretty much impossible to avoid anyway. I mean, we’re sort of trained to think about things on a more meta level, if nothing else, because we’re so much more cognizant of the creation process thanks to the internet.

    But I guess my issue is that I think irony in an of itself is seldom enough to really satisfy me. Especially the kind of self-conscious, forced irony of something like “National Treasure.” If I’m going to like a movie on an ironic level, it’s gotta have at least SOME aspects which are genuinely cool. I think its like you and eighties metal — it IS funny, but if it wasn’t also genuinely trying to be great (and sometimes succeeding), who would care? So, depending on your mood, you can enjoy it either way. But I think without some aspect of non-ironic enjoyment, things tend to sort of deflate (unless its waaay out there, which is kind of a mark of greatness in itself).

    That’s why I think Vern very intellegently turns the issue a little bit and focuses on the artist, not the viewer (which was kind of a mistake on my part because you’re right, I certainly enjoy the absurdity of “Deadly Ground” as much as the next guy, although I would argue that I love it more for its merits, and its uniqueness, than for its camp). The problem these days is that irony has crossed over into the artists side of the fence, which makes post modern analysis even more confusing, but seldom results in things which are genuinely awesome. Occasionally, you’ll get something like “Grindhouse” or “Shoot ‘Em Up” which has enough love for the source material to work on two levels, but more often it results in crappy, tame genre fare which is afraid to completely commit to its source material and instead comes accross as a tepid, safe, and passionless excercize.

    Of course, I think at least some your (and my) issues with “TDK” actually had something to do with its total LACK of a sense of irony about its source material, so maybe there’s something to be said there, too. I think maybe the trick is that if you’re going to do something which has the potential to be cheaply ironic, you might as well at least love the material enough to make it balls-out crazy and just say, “to hell with the naysayers, I’m going for it!”

  81. I agree that I don’t normally want filmmakers to go the ironic route. If they’re making fun of themselves, where’s that leave me? That’s my job. However, I must point out a little something called the Evil Dead trilogy. Totally ironic and totally awesome. It can work. It’s just a really hard mix to get right.

  82. Speaking of GI JOE…turns out Channing Tatum once was a male stripper.

    http://www.awardsdailyforums.com/showthread.php?t=17157

    Off-topic, but I liked Tatum in FIGHTING, which me and maybe 7 other people saw in theatres. Basically a not-as-good rehash of HARD TIMES, but still quite decent matinee fare.

    Go Joe, shake that ass for $5.

  83. Does anybody sometimes find that there are movies that you enjoy in part because some of it is great, but also in part because some of it is accidentally funny?

    One of my favorite horror movies is DEMONS. On the one hand, I like its visual style a lot, it has a lot of entertaining 80’s-style graphic violence and makeup effects, some awesome set pieces and some cool ideas. It’s also one of those Italian horror movies where the dubbing is poor, the dialogue is accidentally funny, the acting is corny and the story is incomprehensible on a fascinating level.

    If DEMONS was just one or the other, either a fun low budget 80’s gorefest or a so-bad-it’s-good accidental comedy, I might like but it wouldn’t be anything special. Somehow, it strikes the perfect balance of bad/good and good/good and as a result it’s one of those movies I’m always in the mood to watch.

    Know what I mean? Have any other examples?

  84. Mr M – dunno that I think EVIL DEAD is going for irony. Like DRAG ME TO HELL, I think it’s committed to the idea of scaring you but also committed to being the wildest, craziest, weirdest thing on the block. Like my example, “Shoot Em Up,” anything meta that you want to bring to the table is coming from you and your knowledge about how movies are “Supposed” to be. Now, of course, the creators of these things are just as aware of conventions as you are, and its intentionally meta that they’re trying to break conventions and go way beyond anything you’re ready to accept, but there’s not really any winking at the camera there, they just go for it like fucking demons and if you want to laugh, that’s cool with them too. Except, of course, ARMY OF DARKNESS, which Id argue is actually an intentional comedy, and a very funny one at that. Nothing really ironic about it, just jokes and parody.

    Speaking of Demons, I’ll agree with Dan that Demons is pretty awesome, though more for its craziness and inventiveness than its ineptitude. I think its pretty much comparable to the movies I mentioned earlier in that its kind of a joy to just watch it defy all conventional rules for telling a story (like, for instance, having character arcs or not randomly introducing four new characters who are unrelated to the story line and then following them for a half hour before they finally get to where the rest of the story is happening and then killing all four of them off off-screen before anything of any import happens). I don’t think my appreciation of it is ironic, though, or at least not exactly. More like I enjoy movies which have the ability to surprise me or distinguish themselves by really going crazy. I might chuckle a little bit at a particularly unlikely bit of dialogue, but I think its the wild excess and inventive weirdness that sells me on most of these. But maybe you’re right, its kind of charming that they’re so inept in some ways, too.

    As for other movies I think are comparable, you might say basically all movies from Dario Argento (except possibly SUSPIRIA) and Lucio Fulci. On the American side, maybe some of Larry Cohen’s stuff (man, I’ve talked about Larry Cohen more here in the past month than in the rest of my life combined) or goofy but engaging shit like ANACONDA. Or, if you’re on one side of the debate, stuff like DOOMSDAY or GRINDHOUSE. All of these share an enthusiasm for inventive, sometimes over-the-top wild and crazy genre rides, while not necessarily worrying too much if their budget doesn’t quite pan out, if some of the performances are a little canned, etc. But hell, you can trace that all the way back to Hitchcock and PSYCHO. No one could possibly argue that the script or acting is anything but wildly uneven — hell, Hitchock said as much himself. But it was fiercely committed to taking it to a level you couldn’t expect, and that’s what makes it cool. Laugh if you want — all it wants to do is kick your ass.

  85. What of Tobe Hopper’s LIFEFORCE?

    That whole movie was a fucking left turn. Each time you seemingly get into a routine with one’s knowledge of cliches/conventions/, etc., LIFEFORCE then does something to fuck with you….even though that said fucking makes sense (I think) within that narrative.

    So yeah, I’m a fan of that movie. Not necessarily a good one perhaps, but its terrific for the right mood. I mean what else can I say where the leading actress walks naked during the whole movie?

  86. Fuckin A, LIFEFORCE. Plus, halfway through, Patrick Stewart kisses Steve Railsback on the lips. Betcha didn’t see that one coming. Oh! and Zombie bush!

  87. How about blood draining out of bodies to form that space vampire chick, and then splatter the floor….and nobody ever mentions it.

    LIFEFORCE is a strange bastard child, with 3 parents: The captivating condensed smart 40s/50s sci-fi short story, the loud and messy monster movie, and the police classy macabre of Hammer Films.

    I mean really, give Goldn & Globus those crazy Jews credit for sinking $25 million into such a movie like LIFEFORCE, which I knew would be quite a tad different from its genre brothers considering it opens on a British space shuttle.

    Which if you know your cinema history, Britain and space programs don’t end well. And I don’t just mean MOONRAKER.

    Mooooooooonraka!

  88. Subtlety,

    I’m not saying that DEMONS is inept or that I enjoy it ironically. I’m just saying that there’s a lot about it that I think is done, but also a lot of parts that make me laugh really hard that I don’t think Lamberto Bava intended as funny.

    Still, he knew what he was doing. Have you seen DEMONS 2? It’s not nearly as good as the original, but he actually tops the punks-in-a-car subplot of the original. The time, he introduces a bunch of young people driving around town on their way to a party, unaware that demons have taken over the building where they are headed. Only, they get into a fender bender on the way so they never arrive and the movie never mentions them again. Awesome.

    The other movies you mentioned are more consistent in their style, where the humor/weirdness is intended, although Fulci does dip into the accidental comedy pool sometimes.

  89. Ha! No, I’ve never seen DEMONS 2 although I guess I’ll have to now. A lot of Euro-horror stuff from thes 70s, 80s, and early 90s is so rife with unlikely dialogue, questionable acting and inexplicable plot elements that I just figured that stuff from DEMONS was unintentional. But it sounds like the sequel at least takes note of how odd that story arc was — good for Lamberto! Thanks for the suggestion, too.

    Of course, I don’t think any mainstream movie could ever top the sheer inexplicable force of Argento’s INFERNO.

  90. I agree with Vern’s review whole-heartedly.

    My two favorite things about GI Joe:

    1) The totally bizarre conversation between Duke and Stryker on their way to fight the villains in Paris:

    “Is that Double Bubble?”
    “It’s my last piece.”
    “COME ON… give it to me!”
    “Fine”

    2) There is a freaking underwater dog fight between fighter subs.

  91. Mr. S–I take it you have not seen Argento’s latest, Mother of Tears? It makes Inferno look like a model of narrative clarity. While there are roughly 500 WTF moments in the film, starting with the evil monkey who knows how to use doorknobs, continuing through random infant-tossing, and ending with a centuries-old naked witch with big fake titties getting impaled on a church spire (underground, mind you), I think I can best sum up the madness by saying that roughly halfway through Udo Kier shows up as an insane priest with DTs and fits right in.

    Also, Dario films his daughter naked again. Way to go, champ. Glad to see you haven’t gone soft in your old age.

  92. MOTHER OF TEARS is a lot more baroque and excessive than INFERNO, but INFERNO takes the cake in the inexplicability contest. MoT at least has a semi-comprehensible story and an identifiable main character. INFERNO is dream logic all the way through.

  93. Subtlety,

    I’ve watched DEMONS, I dunno, at least 10 times in my life and around viewing 6 I finally realized why the punks-in-a-car subplot exists: it explains how the demons leave the theater and enter the outside world. When the punks arrive at the theater, some magic door opens and lets them in, and a demon escapes and attacks the cops who were following the punks, hence spreading the infection into the city.

    Now, why the filmmakers decided that in getting to this plot point we needed to see an extended sequence of a punk spilling cocaine all over a hideous troll woman and scraping the coke off her tits with a razor is still a mystery to me. Maybe I’ll get it on viewing # 11.

  94. I’ll admit, it’s been a decade since I’ve seen Inferno. All I remember is the skeleton mask at the end and that dude who climbed into that puddle for no reason. So I guess I see your point.

  95. “Emotions aren’t based in science.” That’s a real line of dialogue, and it’s actually used to facilitate what Sommers’ thinks is proper character development.

    I don’t get it, man.

  96. Gotta go with Dan on this one — although MOTHER OF TEARS, like all Argento films, is filled with inexplicable shit, INFERNO is closer to avant-garde filmmaking than anything I’ve ever seen passed off as a normal genre film.

    favorite part? Near the end, a minor character goes out to drown a bunch of cats (long story) and then gets attacked by rats from a sewer (of course). There’s a hot dog vendor across the lake from him, and we see the hot dog seller notice the commotion and run around the lake towards him. Only when he reaches him, he fucking takes a knife and whacks him a couple times in the back of the neck. I must stress, this character who dies had appeared MAYBE three times in the movie, and the hot dog seller had never appeared at all and never appears again. Then he just walks away, and its over.

    That said, if ever there was an argument to be made for ‘dream logic’, INFERNO would be the perfect film to champion the cause. Because for some damn reason, it kind of works on a level a lot of other more conventionally good stuff could never dream of.

  97. i am weirdly fascinated by how bad some of the cgi was in this movie. the budget rivaled transmorphers2’s, with cheaper actors/above-the-liners but in places the gfx just look so shitty by comparison. is it a conscious choice, to make everything look smooth and unreal and cartoonish, or is sommers kind of blind, or do the special fx nerds resent working for him, or what? maybe they want the stuff in the movie to resemble the corresponding toys as closely as possible, i don’t know.

    i was so bummed when general quaid said “release the sharks!” and then did not release actual sharks. they laid the groundwork with that robotic fish and then fumbled it.

  98. I’m reminded of an earlier Sommers picture in THE MUMMY RETURNS.

    Apparently despite the massive FX budget, that couldn’t stop the fact that ILM basically finished their effects at the very last minute, to meet that stupid release date.

    Which kinda accounts for alot of the bad CGI in RETURNS.

  99. Oh man, this was amazing. Terrible in many ways, but so fucking balls to the wall cheesy and ridiculously silly to the point of entertainment. I’m suprised Sommers actually got away with this much stuff.

    I completely agree with your point Vern about films like Transformers taking a silly concept and feeling that they need to apologise for it and point out how silly it is all the time or people might laugh at it. “haha yeah this is such a stupid idea, alien robots? Lol!”.

    I always go with the theory that 90% of films consist of “silly concepts”, it all comes down to how willing you are to make the concept work and convince the audience of the silly world you’ve created.

    GI JOE really feels like it’s gone “of course this is a silly concept, so we’re gonna have some really fucking silly entertaining shit going on, ninjas on jetpacks? Fuck yeah!”.

    I actually think the action is fairly decent as well. The direction of them isn’t anything special, the ninja on ninja fight is essentially ruined by too much camera movement. But many of the action sequences build up suprisingly well and continually go in interesting and silly routes. And shockingly for a hollywood film, this is a 90 minute film that really is nearly 90 minutes of action (unlike 2hr30min film consisting of 15 minutes of action, i’m looking at you TF2). I almost felt action scene fatigue from some of the action scenes lasting too long, a rare thing to get in an American film.

    I also think he’s a far better action sequence director than Bay, not just because his camera actually pulls back for several sequences, and in a few of the Paris scenes there are even a fair few steady shots that lost a few seconds. But because Bay’s action usually consists of – shot of people shooting – shot of obviously controlled explosion. There’s rarely any connect between the two. Whereas in GIJOE the explosions felt far more connected to the action and felt like they were having more effect and there was a better sense of geography.

    Oh and the OTT campy villians were awesome, Joseph Gordon Levitt’s channeling Gary Oldman in most scenes. It’s a shame they didn’t cast and/or write Duke any better, as he was painfully bland. If they’d cast the Rock (sorry, Dwayne Johson) instead and let him go full on charming action hero, and some of the action sequences were better directed, we’d have one of the best OTT camp and extremely silly blockbusters.

    Oh and did anyone else think some of the violence was suprisingly violent? The bad guys wearing masks seemed to mean they got away with a lot of head related violence. Heads blown off, arrows shot into eyes, throwing stars into eyes, a bloody knife through the heart ffs. And there were a few nice bizarre directorial – a helicopter pilot saying “oh my gosh” rather trivially before dying. Or how silly it got that every shot of

    Oh and I loved that Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow (I love that everyone called them that, no one questioned it or mentioned any real names) were pretty much in their own kung fu film revenge plot throughout the film. Hopefully SS will return in the sequal and they can have more flashbacks to their kung fu film childhood.

    I wouldn’t want all blockbusters or cartoon adaptations like this, but having a live action cartoon that really was a live action cartoon, both the good and the bad, was a nice change of pace from the blockbusters we’ve been getting recently.

  100. by the way, I can’t believe no one has mentioned the shoulda-been-oscar-nominated theme song form the original G.I. Joe Cartoon movie. CoooooBRAAAAA!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlUyqxmv2DA

  101. I forgot how badass the horns are. It’s like Taking of Pelham 123 up in this bitch.

  102. Wow, I didn’t know GI Joe was a Busbey Berkley musical. Unfortunately it was not eligible for the Oscar because it contained pieces of a previously existing composition.

  103. Actually, if you haven’t seen the cartoon, it’s pretty much just as awesome as the intro song would imply. Especially since they couldn’t have known at the time how funny it would be to have a doomsday weapon with the acronym “BET”. I know you’re not usually into funnybook movies, Vern, but this one is unhinged enough that it might be worth your time (its pretty short, too).

    I mean, how many other movies out there can boast “and Burgess Meredith as… Golobulus “

  104. I don’t understand the Transformers/GI Joe spam. It’s so weird. I’m gonna buy your medicine because you pretended to like GI Joe?

  105. I just laugh my ass off because judging by the name of the links, they use Transformers and GI Joe to sell products against acne and depressions!

  106. You never know what will sell people these days. I think we all know what the world really needs: GI Joe Vs. Transformers. Stephen Sommers script. Michael Bay directs. 500 Million dollar budget. NC-17 rating. The world will never be the same.

  107. Could we shoot it in black and white and set it during World War II? And maybe throw in some cripples and retards for the Oscar folks?

  108. Do whatever you want, but don’t forget that it must cause acne and depressions!

  109. Also, we need more racist jokes to ease the tension! Otherwise there would be 53% downturn in the second week of opening. We wouldn’t want it to be this years Frost Nixon at the oscars!

    And guys come on, obviously Acneguy and Anne7 weren’t finished.

    Acneguy:

    “I used to watch GI Joe animated series wayback in my childhood days. But then I had acne. I then liked COBRA because they wore masks. After years of trying to hide my face, I can finally say I don’t have to wear a mask. All I need is good treatment and medicine to feel like a Real American hero. My face might still look like scattered transformer parts, but this battle was at least half known thanks to the help of treatment. Oh and the movie version of GI Joe is definitely the best.”

    Anne7:

    “I like GI Joe and my favorite character is Scarlett. I used to watch the cartoon version when i was a teenager but then I got depressed because they stopped. Without GI JOE there was no Scarlett. And without Scarlett, my life was empty. I’ve lost many years of my life without the guidance of the Joes. But with the help of Prozac, I can finally dye my hair red and shoot crossbows all I want without the feeling of humiliation! PRO-JOE!”

    Truly these, were not the work of spammers.

  110. Okay, I just watched it on DVD. I liked, but didn’t love it. It was nice to see a Sommers movie again, that didn’t made me want to smash my head over and over against the next wall, though. And I really enjoyed that fantastic Moore-era-Bond vibe of it, with all the silly gadgets and the villain who wants to take over the world or something like that.
    I just wonder why Stephen Sommers has such trouble with making his CGI effects look good. I mean, come on! This guy is the fucking posterboy of these Anti-CGI people! He doesn’t even know WHEN to use the computer (Burning stuntmen covered in cartoon fire?)! This guy is an even worse George Lucas than George Lucas himself! And it’s not just in this movie, it’s in pretty much all of his movies, except the first Mummy!

  111. I love GI Joe the movie. my favorite GI Joe character is Scarlet and the Baroness. I love the GI Joe cartoon version ever since i was a little kid.
    .

  112. When i was a kid, i watched GI Joe animated version on TV all the time. GI Joe Movie is also a very good rendition of the original GI Joe cartoon series.
    `

  113. I watched this movie last night and can’t get behind it in any way, shape or form. Utter dreck. If it wasn’t for X-Men Origins: Wolverine this would be the nadir of the year for me.

  114. Why is this movie such a lightning rod for undercover adbots?

  115. @blouberstand- what the fuck you going on about?

  116. Do these last two posts really exist?

  117. What’s Happening i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I have found It positively useful and it has helped me out loads. I hope to contribute & help different customers like its helped me. Great job.

  118. The Undefeated Gaul

    July 26th, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    These spambots do make a good point sometimes. Your contents are indeed masterpiece, Vern.

  119. I watched ACTION FIGURE -THE MOVIE on Netflix fairly recently. Wow….just…wow. I´ll admit I enjoyed how crazy it was in every possible way. But , Jesus my brain had enough about an hour in. I think after the TEAM AMERICA-esque assault on France. It´s relentless but not necessarily in a good way. It could do with some pauses, but then again, when you were eight and played with your action figures it was basically non-stop action. I never cared about pacing in any of my adventures with my ninja turtles. I just had them constantly kicking ass, the same kind of eight year old narrative construction that is on display in G.I. JOE.

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