G.I. Joe is not a good movie.
But you didn’t need me to tell you that. It was never in question. Marlon Wayans is in it, did anyone actually think it was going to be good?
No, the question has always been, is it fun? Am I going to care that it isn’t good?
The answer is yes and no, respectively.
So no one expected it to be, shall we say, an intelligent piece of film-making. We knew what we were getting into, we all just needed to know if it was worth it, and so, where do you turn? Reviews?
Well, before the opening weekend, you couldn’t. Paramound decided not to screen it for critics, citing the gulf between critic response and audience numbers for Transformers 2 as their reason. To which critics said, ‘This is stupid, your argument is invalid! Transformers 2 was screened for critics and made undeserved amounts of money!’
You’ve never heard a group of people so eager to win an argument by proclaiming their own impotence, that’s for sure. Yeah, you didn’t keep anyone away. Well done. Not to mention, well… they’re wrong. Oh, I’m sure the press release Paramount delivered about why they didn’t screen for critics was a load of bull, don’t get me wrong, we’re agreed there. But did it have the effect it was meant to?
Well, gee, what happened after they did that? Every single industry blogging site made a post about the movie, just before its release. And at that point, RottenTomatoes was still tracking it pretty high, because only selected reviewers had seen it, and so people had only that and word of mouth to go on.
And word of mouth was good, and you know why? G.I. Joe is fun. It’s stupid, sure, but it’s good stupid. Ninjas fight, the guns shoot lasers, most of the one-liners are actually people making fun of Marlon Wayans. It deserves to defy critics (who are busy panning it as we speak, which I suppose is their job, but sometimes I feel like there should be two scales for this sort of thing, because as I began: yeah, it’s a bad movie, guys. Will you next review the sun and inform us ‘It is hot’?) and make lots of money and get a sequel because it is precisely what this sort of movie should be.
It is leaps and bounds ahead of Transformers 2, in that it cares about what it should care about: G.I. Joe. Cobra. No random college students, no parental comic relief, nothing distracting from any character who is not based on a toy. Just about everyone gets a backstory, and while there’s nothing original, the twists from the original canon, when they occur, are significant enough that it’s refreshing.
There’s the odd costuming misstep; I’m on my second viewing of the movie, and I’ve only just adjusted to there being a mouth on Snake Eyes costume, which seems like it would be about as useful as nipples on a Batsuit. And the costume Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character assumes near the end does come off as a little lame, but it’s overshadowed by the sheer delightful scenery chewing JGL is indulging in at the time. The man was clearly having the time of his life making this movie, and that’s G.I. Joe’s saving grace, ultimately.
Like I said: it’s fun. Relentlessly, joyously extravagant, and it may not be good for you but by god does it taste good anyway. So critical response be damned: go. Have a good time. Enjoy yourself. Give it enough money to make the sequel that they’ve so classically built up to.
I mean, you want Lady Jaye to get screen time, right?
At least, more than she gets in The Ballad of G.I. Joe, which you should go watch. After you’ve gone out and seen the movie.