Let me preface this review with a story. When I was about three years old, my parents took me to the cinema with my siblings to see E.T. This was back when E.T. still had guns in it. I have a distinct memory of this being the first time I ever went to the cinema. Also distinct is the memory of becoming so upset by the film that my father had to take me outside to avoid disturbing the other audience members.
To my knowledge, this is the only time I have ever walked out of a movie. (Let the record show however that I later reconciled with E.T. and have since seen it through to the end.) For me, it's almost a point of pride that I do not walk out of films. The problem is, I'm not sure why this is. It's hardly a beneficial strategy when the film is remarkably bad... Do I think I'm staying to get my full money's worth? Or am I so optimistic that I think any film, no matter how bad it is, could potentially turn into Citizen Kane in the final ten minutes?
Whatever the reason, my principles were stretched to the limit this evening as I attended a preview screening of G.I. Joe, the summer blockbuster from director Stephen Sommers. (Who? You know, that guy... I think he did something good a while back, didn't he? Let me check IMdB... Oh. He did Van Helsing. Well, that explains much.)
With that as a hell of a jumping-off point, the problems here are many. Nominally, the cast has some talent; Adewale Akinuoye-Abgaje, Christopher Eccleston, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jonathan Pryce and Dennis Quaid all pick up a pay-check here. I hope they can sleep at night in their luxury condos and soft, feathery sports cars. But they play against the likes of Sienna Miller, Channing Tatum, Darth Maul, a gay ninja who looks like Gok Wan, and a Wayans brother.
The film's plot, if I may call it that, resembles the free-play of a ritalin-addled child showered with miniature war machines from the Hasbro Corporation. Plot-holes appear that you could drive a mobile command unit through. The film-makers demonstrate such total regard for reality that they invent a new language used in Scotland called "Celtic" and change the laws of physics so that ice will sink if blown up with bombs.
Bottom line: over-loud, visually obnoxious, too violent (in my opinion) for the child audience it's obviously aimed at, ludicrously written - much like the toy, this film has a plastic appearance and is lacking in the genitals department. Yes, I have never walked out of a movie (I sat through Guy Ritchie's Revolver for christ sake!), but had there been fewer people sitting in my row, I surely would have run for the hills to avoid any more of this travesty of celluloid.
And finally, at the risk of being repetitive, here's how I will most fondly remember everyone's favourite militaristic toy franchise... Go Joe!