Monday, July 24, 2017

Recap: "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" Part 3: Land and Air... and Sea

You might be wondering why I haven't complained about or even really commented too much on the Joes being an international team, rather than "Real American Heroes." Well, that's because the G.I. Joe toys became global peacekeepers from all across the globe when the franchise was rebooted into the '80s cartoon version. Action Force: International Heroes.

And prior to that, old school G.I. Joes were known as "Action Man" across the pond.

Sorry if I shattered any illusions.
And so, Duke is soon en route to the MARS Arctic Missile Command Headquarters Playset. He tries to find out what happened to Ana, and apologizes for everything, assuming it was the death of her brother Rex that set her on the path to supervillainy.

Meanwhile, Storm Shadow indulges himself with another flashback. Long story short, Storm Shadow was always in Snake Eyes's shadow (no pun intended) at the dojo where they grew up. So Storm Shadow killed their master and ran off. As will be revealed later, this is when Snake Eyes took his vow of silence.

Anyway, as Team Alpha prepares to head back to the Pit, Breaker uses trigonometry to determine the location of one of the dead man's downloaded memories by measuring McCullen's shadow.

Scarlett: "If you know the height of the object, the length of the shadow, and the time and date that the image was captured, you can figure out its location."
Ripcord: "That's why I missed that class."

Breaker crunches the numbers and determines that McCullen's evil lair must be in the Arctic, meaning that the mission Snow Job was born for has arrived. Unfortunately, Snow Job is not in this movie.

Sorry, Snow Job. This ain't happening.
General Hawk: "I said you've been ordered back to the Pit... but I didn't say when, and I didn't say which route to take."
Scarlett: "Maybe a northern one."

Oh, cool, an unsanctioned mission. Isn't this technically mutiny on somebody's part, whether it be the Joes or General Hawk?

Also, I didn't know Kylo Ren was in this movie.
And so, the Joes begin searching the expansive Arctic depths with their submarine.

"Locating McCullen's base will be like finding a needle in a coal mine."
Ripcord: "Haystack."
Breaker: "Oh, right. Haystack in a coal mine."

Elsewhere, the baddies land at the MARS Arctic Missile Command Headquarters Playset. Which at first was just me making fun of G.I. Joe's history as a toy line, but has since morphed into a joke about the special effects, once I realized how fake the place looks.

Boy, Duke looks nice and toasty despite all the ice, huh?
You could argue that the walls are supposed to be fake, and they're actually camouflaged support columns filled with, like, wiring or whatever...

But when your ice cavern effects look worse than the Fortress of Solitude did in the '70s, then you've done something wrong.
I mean, this is still the Arctic. And not only are everybody's heads and hands uncovered, but Storm Shadow's coat is open and the Baroness has cleavage showing. So maybe her breasts are pulling double duty as armor plating and heating elements.

Anyway, Storm Shadow begins melting some of the fiberglass ice to reveal a secret door. Duke takes the opportunity to grab the warheads and run, but Storm Shadow's shuriken stops him. Thankfully, these aren't his insta-kill shurikens from earlier. He must have used them all up at the particle accelerator.

Storm Shadow makes fun of Duke's plan to run to safety in the middle of the Arctic, but cutting back to the Joes reveals Duke's true plan: To reactivate the warheads' tracking beacon while feigning escape. So the Joes have a signal to follow as the baddies take Duke down below the ice to their evil lair in a rather fast elevator which is probably going to end up giving somebody the bends.

Once below, McCullen arrives to begin sucking on the Baroness's face right in front of Duke.

McCullen: "This bother you?"

It sure as heck bothers me.

You look like you're trying to chew on her tonsils. That's some evil kissin'.
McCullen: "It's funny, isn't it? The entire balance of power in the world about to shift, two guys can still have a stare-down over who gets the girl."

Well, when you say it like that, it almost sounds stupid.

I agree with Duke, who rebuts with a headbutt. As Duke gets beaten by McCullen's guards, Ana starts having quick flashbacks to her happier times with Duke. Sort of the antithesis of what's actually happening.

McCullen: "I'm going to make you very unhappy."
Duke: "I'm already unhappy."

Um, I think that might have been Channing Tatum saying that, not Duke.

Elsewhere, the Joes send in a robotic fish drone to locate the MARS Arctic Missile Command Headquarters Playset underneath the polar icecap.

Scarlett: "It's the perfect location. Nearly undetectable, easily defensible."

I could probably refute that if I cared to do the research, but you know what? It's a G.I. Joe movie. I think I can forgive them for whatever tactical sins are committed by having an awesome underwater Arctic base.

When Snake Eyes spots the elevator to the surface, the Joes begin formulating a plan to infiltrate the base from above, which probably has vulnerable entrances and more stuff to breathe. The wisdom of the plan is proven when Breaker turns on the sonar and discovers a whole network of attack subs zipping through tunnels in the icecap. They also spot a few missile tubes, and quickly guess that the base's missiles are probably going to be armed with the nanomite warheads.

Heavy Duty: "Take us up. I'll create a distraction from outside and keep 'em busy while you lot infiltrate the facility from above. We'll find Duke."
Ripcord: "Grab the warheads."
Scarlett: "Kill all the bad guys."

Except the ones who we might want to see in the sequel, of course.

Back at the Pit, General Hawk tells the rest of the Joes what's going on, and admits that what he's about to ask of them goes against their orders from above.

General Hawk: "So if any of you decide that you have to leave now, I will certainly not hold it against you."

The Joes all remain at attention, meaning that every single Joe is willing to go along with an unsanctioned mission. I'm pretty sure this means that G.I. Joe has gone rogue, which is pretty funny if you consider this film's sequel.

Back at the MARS base, Duke starts asking questions. You know, to try and get the villain to reveal his entire evil plan regarding the warheads.

McCullen: "Isn't it obvious? I'm a businessman."

So you're going to sell them?

McCullen: "I'm going to use them."

Oh. Because businessmen steal things from their company for their own personal use...? Actually, that is technically what Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark are doing when they use their own companies' assets to create their crimefighting arsenal. It's just a superheroic version of embezzeling company funds to buy a car.

Duke: "Millions of people are gonna die if your launch those warheads, so what is it that you want?"

You mean apart from the deaths of millions?

McCullen: "To strike fear into the hearts of every man, woman, and child on the planet. Then they'll turn to the person with the most power."


Duke: "You?"
McCullen: "No, not me. You're not seeing the whole picture."
Duke: "Then tell me."
McCullen: "I don't wanna spoil the surprise."

"It'll be a great twist for the end of the movie."
The Doctor is working on some sort of plastic mask as McCullen brings in Duke to meet him.

McCullen: "Meet the genius behind all my nanotechnology."
Doctor: "Genius? You are too kind."

At this very moment, the remaining warheads are loaded into three missiles which will travel at Mach 5 to hit Beijing, Moscow, and Washington. And with that explained, it's time to prep Duke to become a Neo-Viper soldier.

Back at the Pit, the Joes scramble to assist Team Alpha while back in the Arctic, the last polar bear searches for food in the frozen wasteland, no doubt polluted by the MARS Arctic Missile Command Headquarters Playset beneath the ice. And also, Team Alpha's sub emerges and shoots out three snowmobiles, monitored all the while by the Pit's satellite uplink. Team Alpha zooms into the base's hangar, decked out in full Arctic gear (sold separately, of course), to take out a few goons.

Ripcord: "We're a long way from Miami."

Oh, don't be a whiner. Duke wasn't complaining when he was there, and he didn't even have a coat on.

Scarlett, on the other hand, is simply amazed by the technology MARS has on hand.

Scarlett: "That's a Night Raven, They actually built one."

Well, yeah. Gotta sell those toys.

Back with Duke, the Neo-Viper procedure is starting.

Doctor: "MARS Industries manufactures 70% of all arms on this planet."

But that's only because Tony Stark stopped making weapons the previous year.

Doctor: "There are two sides to McCullen's operation, the Sword and the Shield. The Sword creates and sell weaponry. The Shield creates defensive technology, like high-tech bunkers..."

He makes his own economy!

Doctor: "...which are supposed to protect one from anything from a nuclear blast to a nanomite warhead. Unfortunately, the bunker in which I took shelter was just a prototype."

The Doctor pulls off his greasy wig and breathing mask to reveal the prosthetically-scarred face of Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Duke: "Rex? You son of a bitch!"

I don't think Ana is going to appreciate what you just said about her mom.

Duke: "Ana buried you!"

Apparently, Rex found something in that bunker that was worth faking his death over, and he explains so by narrating a flashback of his own.

Apparently, that bunker all those years ago featured Dr. Mindbender (Kevin J. O'Connor) and all his MARS-funded research on nanomites, which Rex was immediately enraptured by.

What, no Cisco brand-deal for the bad guys' communication system?
But while Rex was in awe of the technology, Mindbender sealed them both in before the airstrike.

Dr. Mindbender: "If we live, I'll show you everything."


Dr. Rex: "We survived that blast, somewhat."

No, somehow is the word to use there, Freddy.
Dr. Rex: "And Dr. Mindbender and I escaped with his research, which I perfected and which you will now experience firsthand."
Duke: "Does Ana know about this?"
Dr. Rex: "No. And she never will."

Ana is currently watching the missile launch with McCullen, while the Joes above the base scramble to figure out what to do. Snake-Eyes manages to use the missiles in his snowmobile to take one down, leaving two missiles headed in opposite directions at Mach 5.

"Double jeopardy."
Storm Shadow's Snake-Eyes-sense tingles, which is McCullen's cue to activate the defenses and the Baroness's cue to have a few more brief flashbacks while the other members of Team Alpha figure out how to take down the other missiles. As opposed to radioing the Pit and telling them to scramble some jets, Ripcord is going to fly after and shoot down two missiles flying in separate directions. Not even Superman, with his great speed, was able to do that without reversing the passage of time, but I guess we've got to justify Ripcord's inclusion. After all, the original character was a pilot, and this would seem to fulfill his apparent dream of being in the Air Force. Character arc!

Over in Washington, the President gets prepped to move down into the bunker for his own safety while Ripcord gets in the Night Raven. Scarlett gives him a kiss for luck before he flies away, and the remaining three members of Team Alpha rappel down the elevator shaft. Now they just need to find a way across a pressure-sensitive floor.

Over with Duke and Doc, the Neo-Viper procedure is still beginning. Since there's been ample time for the procedure to be sabotaged, it is. By Ana. She knocks Dr. Rex out and undoes Duke's restraints. The two kiss, when Duke notices the nanomite Cobra brand on her neck, which Dr. Rex uses to paralyze her remotely. Then Dr. Rex uses his sister as a hostage, all the while explaining how he "saved her" by using his brainwashing nanomites to give her a new purpose after Duke abandoned her following Rex's "death."

Well, at least we now have a reason as to why the Doctor brainwashed Duke's civilian fiancé. A pretty stupid reason, but whatever.

Duke: "You could have stopped all of this just by letting her know you were alive!"
Dr. Rex: "Science requires sacrifice."

So, what skills do Ana bring to the table, apart from her brainwashed obedience? What was there in the first place to justify this? Why not brainwash literally anybody with a scientific background? Or military training? Or anything useful?

You're telling me that McCullen put time and resources into brainwashing a civilian and having Storm Shadow train her to actually be useful? And he didn't question this? Does McCullen even know that this is his own mad scientist's sister?

Duke: "All she's done was because of you!"
Dr. Rex: "And because of you, Duke. You abandoned her."

Yep, the number one female villain from the G.I. Joe franchise has had all of her independence removed. Whether it be Duke, Rex, or McCullen, every single one of her actions is either for a man or because of a man. And all of her useful skills were taught to her by a man under the orders of a different man.

I mean, it's not even like I'm looking that hard into the subtext to come to this conclusion, either. I don't comb through films and TV episodes looking to apply the Bechdel Test to every line of dialogue. It's simply very hard not to notice that of the three female characters in this movie, the evil one has no agency of her own, the protagonist becomes romantically attracted to a man who keeps harassing her, and the last one starts off as a tank driver in the source material, gets adapted into what is essentially a secretary, and becomes the only named character to die.

Anyway, McCullen arrives with security forces, wondering how anyone could have overridden the nanomite programming.

McCullen: "She did this for him."

See my above rant.

Back with Team Alpha, Snake Eyes gets past the sensors' thresholds by walking on his fingertips to the control panel. Breaker prepares to guide him through the long and technical hacking process, but Snake Eyes finds that stabbing the panel is faster. I can't really blame him. I don't know how hacking works in real life, but my video game experience tells me that it's basically just busywork and/or minigames.

Scarlett radios the Pit, and General Hawk gives the orders to deploy the SHARC submarines.

The SHARCs, led by Heavy Duty, begin distracting MARS forces with an underwater dogfight. With one of the SHARCs' missiles shaking the whole base, Duke seizes the opportunity to get his hands on a MARS pulse gun and aims it at McCullen.

The rest of Team Alpha infiltrates the control room, allowing Scarlett to radio Ripcord. At this moment, he's having the time of his life, having reached Mach 6 (six times the speed of sound), which makes his glee understandable, since he's going faster than any current plane can fly in the real world. Scarlett helps him track down the missile aimed at Moscow, which is 7 minutes away from hitting its target. The Washington missile is 18 minutes away. Remember that.

Speaking of Washington, the President gets taken into the White House bunker... the one made by MARS Industries.

Snake Eyes gets tasked to take out the big ol' MARS pulse cannon on the base as McCullen starts taunting Duke, distracting him long enough for McCullen to grab one of the flamethrowers they use to de-ice the base. Duke's pulse gun shoves McCullen's flames right back at him, and Duke manages to grab Ana's control panel, which Dr. Rex dropped in all the commotion, and uses it to revive her.

Dr. Rex grabs McCullen and drags him toward the hangar while Snake-Eyes makes his way to the pulse cannon controls, followed by Storm Shadow.

Breaker: "Ripcord, the Moscow missile will impact in four minutes."

So the Washington missile is fifteen minutes from impact. Remember that.
But Ripcord just noticed something. There aren't any firing controls.

Scarlett: "It must be voice activated."

Well, that thing on his head does sort of remind me of the Konami Laser Scope.
So Ripcord follows the Konami Laser Scope instructions and yells fire!

Nothing. So he tries synonyms.

Ripcord: "Shoot!"

Nothing. So he tries slang.

Ripcord: "Blast away! Bust a cap!"


Scarlett: "I bet it's in a different language."

Uh, okay. Or maybe it needs an authorization code. Or perhaps it will only respond to certain voiceprints?

Scarlett: "Wait a minute. McCullen is Scottish."

This is true.

Scarlett: "Maybe the plane responds to Celtic."

But from what the movie's shown us so far, McCullen isn't a pilot, so why would he build a military fighter jet that only he can fly?

Scarlett: "Try, uh... teine!"
Ripcord: "What?"
Scarlett: "Teine! It's, uh, Celt. Scottish. For 'fire.'"

Yes, that is correct. It does mean "fire." As in "flame,"not "shoot a weapon." The correct word in this context would be"siubhail."

But "teine" ends up saving Moscow.

Ripcord: "Now guide me to Washington."

Speaking of Washington, that 20th Neo-Viper that was mentioned at the beginning of the movie turns out to be part of the Secret Service, and he shoots all the other agents before a secret door in the bunker opens, revealing... someone we don't see.

President: "So that's what this is all about."

"My God, seeing you here makes everything make sense!
I can only imagine how somebody would feel if they didn't see you at this very moment!"
But that will have to wait until the big twist at the end. For now, we cut back to the SHARCs fighting the Jets. I mean, MARS underwater forces. As the pulse cannon continues to wreak havoc against the Joes' subs...

Heavy Duty: "I just lost my wingman!"

Shouldn't that be "finman"?

Anyway, Snake Eyes comes along to shut down the controls. Storm Shadow follows him inside, and the two of them have their big, climactic fight inside the pulse cannon engine, ninja vs. ninja.

Dr. Rex and McCullen reach an escape craft and have Neo-Vipers pilot them to safety as Duke takes Ana to an escape craft of their own. Duke follows McCullen's sub as Ana mans the turret to shoot some pursuing bad guys.

Over in the pulse cannon, the fight continues. Snake Eyes whips out bladed tonfas and Storm Shadow rips off his shirt and mask before turning his two katanas into a single double-bladed katana. Which is odd, since Ray Park is usually the guy who gets to use weapons like that. I mean, even Toad got to twirl a pole for a bit.

Up in the skies, Ripcord has caught up with the second missile, which is 30 seconds away from entering the lower atmosphere. I paused the footage, and the readout seems to say that the missile is 2 minutes away from Washington. Meaning that Ripcord has just flown somewhere around 4,500 miles in thirteen minutes, giving him a average speed of just about 346.2 miles per minute, or about 20,769.2 miles per hour. Makes you wonder why Ripcord was so excited about reaching Mach 6 when he's managed to fly the Night Raven at a speed of Mach 27. Which, being 27 times the speed of sound, is quite simply ludicrous.

Ripcord's shots miss the target, and the missile enters the lower atmosphere as Duke and Ana use some laser beams to take out the pursuing enemies. Duke radios the MARS Arctic Missile Command Headquarters Playset and tells Team Alpha to get out of there before it blows. But they can't do that until Ripcord takes out the last missile.

Speaking of getting taken out, Snake Eyes stabs Storm Shadow in the chest. And so, the guy using a double-sided sword just gets impaled and falls down a pit.

Because Phantom Menace. Because Ray Park.
More underwater action scene bits ensue with Duke chasing Dr. Rex, and Ripcord hits the nanomite warhead from point blank range, knocking all the nanomites onto the Night Raven. Then he pulls up, buzzing the White House in a stunt that would make Maverick himself jealous. Ripcord flies into the atmosphere to harmlessly disperse the nanomites into space. As the plane crumbles around him, Scarlett gives him the Celtic "eject" command, launching him to safety. "Safety" being the White House lawn, where the Secret Service subdues him.

Back in the water, Dr. Rex gives the order to detonate the MARS Arctic Missile Command Headquarters Playset, so the SHARCs retreat as Team Alpha runs to safety. Duke and Ana closely follow Dr. Rex's craft through the icy tunnels as Team Alpha get in the elevator and head toward the surface fast enough to definitely give them the bends.

And so, we've reached the part that everybody criticizes. The cherry on top of all the internet’s "15 Things You Didn't Notice Were Completely Wrong in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" lists.

The MARS Arctic Missile Command Headquarters Playset blows up and the ice begins to sink into the depths. Not just chunks of ice with bits of building material and structural stuff like girders and whatnot, but chunks of nothing but ice are sinking.

How do you even make a mistake like that?
The ending credits list all the people working on the special effects... and none of them remembered that ice floats?

Not to point fingers, but none of these people looked down at their drink and thought "Hey, wait a minute"?
But with all the Joes clear of the incredible sinking ice, Heavy Duty gets to say one final tagline.

Heavy Duty: "Yo, Joe!"

And if all the other Joes in all the other SHARCs had joined in with a YO JOE in response, then this wouldn't look silly. You know, like Marines and their "Hoo-Rah." But Adawale Akinnuoye-Agbaje just looks embarrassed to be saying it, which makes it kind of cringe-inducing.

The Joes at the Pit celebrate as Dr. Rex begins to enact some plans of his own. First up, dealing with McCullen's injuries. The damage isn't bad enough for him to transform into David Tennant, but he still needs a bit of a booster shot from Dr. Rex's syringe.

Dr. Rex: "This will only hurt a little. What comes next, more so."

McCullen's face is repaired, but the nanomites turn it into metal, to McCullen's simultaneous awe and horror.

McCullen: "I've finally taken my place in a long line of McCullens...."
Dr. Rex: "James McCullen is no more. Now, you are Destro."

And it only took him 90% of the running time to turn into what we wanted to see the whole time.
Destro goes to attack Dr. Rex, but Dr. Rex has a remote control to shock Destro, just for an occasion such as this. But Dr. Rex isn't all heartless. He's putting on a shiny mask of his own to keep Destro from feeling left out.

Dr. Rex: "The time has come for the cobra to rise up and reveal himself. You will call me... Commander."

Yes, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Cobra Commander.

And you can tell he's been planning this for a while, since their escape craft already has the COBRA logo on it.

Real talk, this casting makes me giggle. Not the reaction I think they wanted.

Wait... Rex means "King"... King Cobra...
Oh, geez, it was a pun this whole time.
But Cobra Commander's origin is quickly followed by Duke and a backup armada of SHARCs, meaning that the titular rise of Cobra is very short-lived. Cobra Commander ends up in a high-tech laser prison, and he issues one last threat to the man who captured him.

Cobra Commander: "You know, Duke, this has only just begun."
Duke: "I'll be waiting for you."

Spoiler Alert: These two never see each other ever again.
Ana is taken to a prison psychiatric facility to be healed mentally and physically, and she shares one last kiss with Duke before the two of them go their separate ways.
I hope you don't expect this to ever be followed up on in the sequel.
She gets to wear an orange jumpsuit and Duke gets invited to be a part of the Joes, alongside Ripcord.

Ripcord: "How do you feel about this?"
Scarlett: "I feel very, um... emotional."

I prefer to think that she hasn't actually found Ripcord's sexual harassment endearing and she's merely in the beginning stages of pon farr.

Base Announcement: "All Joes mobilize and ready check for Operation Mongoose."


Base Announcement: "All ground transports, rendezvous at Base Brothers Grimm. All Howler Hunters will rendezvous at Base Roman Ruin."

I guess they have to ditch the Pit, since Cobra knows where it is now.

And so, our heroes fly off as the franchise as we know it finishes assembling itself.

Yeah, technically, Cobra, the central villains of the G.I. Joe franchise, haven't even done anything yet. This whole stinkin' movie was a prologue.

As if to drive that point even further, the President emerges from his bunker to a round of applause, only to whistle "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" once alone in the Oval Office, meaning that this whole movie was just a smokescreen for McCullen's true, appropriately The Man in the Iron Mask-inspired plan. Which I guess Cobra Commander will have to hijack, since Destro doesn’t appear in the next movie.

Either way, what could have been a clever twist in a better movie simply multiplies the
absence of both Cobra Commander and Cobra, making the whole thing feel like two hours of teasing.

And to twist the knife one final time, the first song in the credits is "Boom Boom Pow," which is simultaneously one of the worst songs ever written and one of the most annoying Black Eyed Peas songs. "I got that rock and rooooooowl. That future flooooooow."

Really? Because this song reeks of the mid-00s. Here in the actual future, we laugh at the fact that we ever listened to your songs. Then we go ride our hoverboards.

Fergie: "I'm so three-thousand-and-eight, you're so two-thousand-and-late."

You wrote this song in 2008, and you can't hide it by changing a lyric to 3008. We're not stupid.

Apparently, was inspired by the music in the Sydney nightclubs he encountered while filming X-Men Origins: Wolverine, so that's another thing we can blame that movie for.

And.... Wow, sorry, the movie's over, but I'm still going. Let's move on to the Review.


  1. you know what i noticed about mccullen's plan? It's the exact same plan as the company in heroes season 1 (although did they really plan it? they never went into detail as to how they arranged everything and in the season finale it seemed they were only preparing for the inevitable, but anyway!), except their plan made more sense to attack major cities all over the world apart from the one.

  2. Are you still going to do the review?

    1. Yes, it's just taking me a while to get my notes around while working on new things. My goal is to have it up in September alongside the Batman Returns review.