G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
|G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Stephen Sommers|
|Produced by||Lorenzo di Bonaventura
|Screenplay by||Stuart Beattie
|Story by||Michael B. Gordon
|Based on||G.I. Joe
and Dennis Quaid
|Music by||Alan Silvestri|
|Editing by||Bob Ducsay
Di Bonaventura Pictures
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Running time||118 minutes|
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is a 2009 American military science fiction action film based on the G.I. Joe toy franchise, with particular inspiration from the comic book and cartoon series G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. The film is directed by Stephen Sommers, produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura and co-written by Stuart Beattie, based on a 1998 screenplay by John Paul Kay. G.I. Joe features an ensemble cast based on the various characters of the franchise. The story follows two American soldiers, Duke and Ripcord, who join the G.I. Joe Team after being attacked by MARS troops.
After leaked drafts of the script were criticized by fans, Larry Hama, writer of the comic, was hired as creative consultant and rewrites were made. Filming took place in Downey, California, and Prague's Barrandov Studios, and six companies handled the visual effects. The film was released on August 7, 2009, worldwide, following an extensive marketing campaign focused on the Mid-American public. The Rise of Cobra opened at the top of the box office and grossed over $302 million worldwide by the end of its run. Critical reception was mostly negative. The sequel, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, was released on March 28, 2013.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Cast
- 3 Production
- 4 Release
- 5 Reception
- 6 Sequel
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
In the near future, weapons master James McCullen (Christopher Eccleston) has created a nanotech-based weapon capable of destroying cities, the nanobots can only be stopped by activating the kill switch. His company M.A.R.S. (Military Armaments Research Syndicate) sells four warheads to NATO, and NATO troops led by American soldiers Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) are tasked with delivering the warheads. Their convoy is ambushed by the Baroness (Sienna Miller), whom Duke recognizes to be his ex-fiancee Ana Lewis. Duke and Ripcord are rescued by Scarlett (Rachel Nichols), Snake Eyes (Ray Park), Breaker (Saïd Taghmaoui) and Heavy Duty (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). They take the warheads to The Pit, G.I. Joe's command center in Egypt, and upon arriving rendezvous with the head of the G.I. Joe Team, General Hawk (Dennis Quaid). Hawk takes command of the warheads and excuses Duke and Ripcord, only to be convinced to let them join his group, after Duke reveals that he knows the Baroness.
McCullen is revealed to be using the same nanotechnology to build an army of soldiers with the aid of the Doctor (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), planning on using the warheads to cause panic and bring about a new world order. Using a tracking device, McCullen locates the G.I. Joe base and sends Storm Shadow (Byung-Hun Lee) and the Baroness to retrieve the warheads, with assistance from Zartan (Arnold Vosloo).
After a fight, Storm Shadow and the Baroness retrieve the warheads and take them to Baron DeCobray, the Baroness's husband, for him to weaponize. Making their way to Paris, the Joes pursue the Baroness and Storm Shadow, but are unsuccessful in stopping them from launching one of the missiles. The missile hits the Eiffel Tower and releases the nanomites in it, destroying the tower and some of the surrounding area before Duke manages to hit the kill switch, but in doing so he is captured and taken to McCullen's base under the Arctic.
The Joes locate the secret base and fly there, as McCullen loads three missiles with nano-warheads, which are aimed for Beijing, Moscow, and Washington, D.C., the world's three most important cities. He intends to do this to strike fear into the hearts of every man, woman, and child on the planet, after which they will turn to the person with the most power in the world, the President of the United States. After Snake Eyes takes out one missile, Ripcord destroys the remaining two using a stolen M.A.R.S. prototype Night Raven jet, while Scarlett, Breaker, and Snake Eyes infiltrate the base. Snake Eyes duels and prevails over Storm Shadow. Duke learns that the Doctor is Rex Lewis, Ana's brother believed to have been killed by a mistimed airstrike during a mission led by Duke (also the origin of the alienation between Duke and Ana). Rex had encountered Doctor Mindbender (Kevin J. O'Connor) in the bunker and was seduced by the nanomite technology, taking too long to retrieve the data and getting caught in the bombing, which disfigured him. After freeing Duke, the Baroness is subdued, as the Doctor reveals he has implanted her with nanomites, which has put her under his control for the past four years. Attempting to kill Duke, McCullen ends up being burned, so he and the Doctor flee to an escape vessel. Duke and the Baroness pursue him while the Joes fall back, when the Doctor activates the base's self-destruct sequence; which involves 'blowing the ice cap' to create blocks of ice which then nearly crush the Joes.
The Doctor assumes the identity of the Commander, having healed McCullen's burned face with nanomites, encasing it in silver and naming him "Destro", which places McCullen under the Commander's control. They are captured by G.I. Joe soon after. On the supercarrier USS Flagg, the Baroness is placed in protective custody until they can remove the nanomites from her body. Meanwhile, Zartan, having had his physical appearance altered by nanomites, infiltrates the White House during the missile crisis and assumes the identity of the President of the United States of America (Jonathan Pryce), thus completing a part of McCullen's plan to rule the world.
- Channing Tatum as Duke (Conrad S. Hauser)
The lead soldier. Lorenzo di Bonaventura was originally interested in casting Mark Wahlberg, and when the script was rewritten into a G.I. Joe origin story, the studio offered the role to Tatum. Tatum had played a soldier in Stop-Loss, an anti-war film, and originally wanted no part in G.I. Joe, which he felt glorified war.
- Marlon Wayans as Ripcord (Wallace A. Weems)
A pilot with a romantic interest in Scarlett. A fan of the franchise, Wayans was cast on the strength of his performance in Requiem for a Dream. Bonaventura said that the film showed Wayans could be serious as well as funny.
- Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Heavy Duty (Hershel Dalton)
An ordnance expert and field commander of the team. Common was offered the role of Heavy Duty's cousin Roadblock, although Bonaventura previously indicated Heavy Duty was being used in that character's stead. Stuart Beattie ultimately chose to have Heavy Duty instead of Roadblock.
- Dennis Quaid as General Hawk (General Clayton M. Abernathy)
The Joes' commanding officer. Quaid described Hawk as "a cross between Chuck Yeager and Sgt. Rock and maybe a naïve Hugh Hefner". Quaid's son convinced him to take on the part, and the filmmakers enjoyed working with him so much that Stuart Beattie wrote "ten to fifteen more scenes" for the character. He filmed all his scenes within the first two months of production.
- Rachel Nichols as Scarlett (Shana M. O'Hara)
She graduated college at age twelve and became the team's intelligence expert. Having left school so early, she does not understand men's attraction to her. Nichols was the first choice for the role. Nichols had dyed her blonde hair red – Scarlett's hair color – for her role in Star Trek, which she filmed before G.I. Joe. She burned herself filming an action sequence with Sienna Miller.
- Ray Park as Snake-Eyes
A mysterious ninja commando who took a vow of silence, a departure from the character's traditional difficulty in speaking due to grievous vocal wounds, a close member of the Arashikage ninja clan, and Storm Shadow's rival. Park specifically practiced wushu for the role, as well as studying the character's comic book poses. Park was already familiar with the character but knew very little of the surrounding saga of G.I. Joe versus Cobra, so he read the comics to further understand the character. He was nervous about wearing the mask, which covered his entire head quite tightly, so he requested to practice wearing it at home. He found the full costume, including the visor, very heavy to wear and akin to a rubber band; he had to put effort into moving in it. Leo Howard plays the 10-year-old Snake Eyes.
- Saïd Taghmaoui as Breaker (Abel Shaz)
He is the team's communications specialist and hacker. He is seen chewing gum during the Battle of Paris in an homage to the original character.
- Karolína Kurková as Cover Girl (Courtney A. Krieger)
Hawk's aide-de-camp. Kurková described going from her modeling career to making such a film as "an amazing experience," but said she was upset about not taking part in any action sequences.
- Brendan Fraser (uncredited) as Sgt. Stone (Geoffrey Stone IV)
At first, it was reported he was going to play Gung-Ho, but it was later revealed he was instead playing Sergeant Stone. According to the director's commentary on the DVD, Fraser begged director Stephen Sommers to be in the movie, making it his fourth collaboration with Sommers after the The Mummy franchise.
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Cobra Commander (Rex Lewis/The Doctor) 
The Baroness' brother, a former soldier who was thought to have been killed during a mission led by Duke – instead, he became the disfigured head scientist of Military Armament Research Syndicate (MARS). USA Today reported that Gordon-Levitt would play multiple roles. Gordon-Levitt wore prosthetic makeup under a mask that was redesigned from the comics because the crew found it too reminiscent of the Ku Klux Klan. Upon seeing concept art of the character, Levitt signed on because; "I was like, 'I get to be that? You're going to make that [makeup] in real life and stick it on me? Cool. Let me do it.' That's a once-in-lifetime opportunity." Levitt is a friend of Tatum and they co-starred in Stop-Loss and Havoc. His casting provided extra incentive for Tatum to join the film. Levitt described his vocal performance as being "half reminiscent" of Chris Latta's voice for the 1980s cartoon, but also half his own ideas, because he felt rendering it fully would sound ridiculous.
- Christopher Eccleston as Destro (Laird James McCullen XXIV)
A weapons designer and the founder of MARS who is the main villain in the early part of the film. Irish actor David Murray was originally cast as Destro, but was forced to drop out due to visa issues. Murray was later cast as an ancestor of James McCullen in a flashback scene.
- Sienna Miller as The Baroness (Ana Lewis/Anastasia DeCobray)
The sister of Cobra Commander and a spy. Years earlier, The Baroness was going to marry Duke, but he left her at the altar, due to his guilt over her brother's apparent death. Miller auditioned for the part because it did not involve "having a breakdown or addicted to heroin or dying at the end, something that was just maybe really great fun and that people went to see and actually just had a great time seeing." Miller prepared with four months of weight training, boxing sessions and learned to fire live ammunition, gaining five pounds of muscle. She sprained her wrist after slipping on a rubber bullet while filming a fight scene with Rachel Nichols.
- Lee Byung-hun as Storm Shadow (Thomas Arashikage)
Snake-Eyes' rival; both were close members of the Arashikage ninja clan. Lee was unfamiliar with G.I. Joe because the franchise is unknown in South Korea, but Sommers and Bonaventura told him that it was not necessary to watch the cartoons to prepare for the role. Lee was attracted to Storm Shadow's "dual personality," which he stated has "huge pride and honor." Brandon Soo Hoo plays the character as a ten-year-old.
- Arnold Vosloo as Zartan
A disguise expert who serves Destro.
- Kevin J. O'Connor as Doctor Mindbender
A scientist in McCullen's employ who developed the nanomite technology.
- Jonathan Pryce as The President of the United States of America.
- Gerald Okamura as The Hard Master, Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow's ninja master.
- Grégory Fitoussi as The Baron/Daniel DeCobray, husband of the Baroness.
In 1994, Larry Kasanoff and his production company, Threshold Entertainment, held the rights to do a live-action G.I. Joe film with Warner Bros. as the distributor, but instead chose to concentrate their efforts on their Mortal Kombat films. As late as 1999, there had been rumors that a film from Threshold Entertainment was still a possibility, but that project never panned out. In 2003, Lorenzo di Bonaventura was interested in making a film about advanced military technology; Hasbro's Brian Goldner called him and suggested to base the film on the G.I. Joe toy line. Goldner and Bonaventura worked together before, creating toy lines for films Bonaventura produced as CEO of Warner Bros. Goldner and Bonaventura spent three months working out a story, and chose Michael B. Gordon as screenwriter, because they liked his script for 300. Bonaventura wanted to depict the origin story of certain characters, and introduced the new character of Rex, to allow an exploration of Duke. Rex's name came from Hasbro. Beforehand, Don Murphy was interested in filming the property, but when the Iraq War broke out, he considered the subject matter inappropriate, and chose to develop Transformers (another Hasbro toy line) instead. Bonaventura felt, "What [the Joes] stand for, and what Duke stands for specifically in the movie, is something that I'd like to think a worldwide audience might connect with."
By February 2005, Paul Lovett and David Elliot, who wrote Bonaventura's Four Brothers, were rewriting Gordon's draft. In their script, the Rex character is corrupted and mutated into the Cobra Commander, whom Destro needs to lead an army of supersoldiers. Skip Woods was rewriting the script by March 2007, and he added the Alex Mann character from the British Action Man toy line. Bonaventura explained, "Unfortunately, our president has put us in a position internationally where it would be very difficult to release a movie called G.I. Joe. To add one character to the mix is sort of a fun thing to do." The script was leaked online by El Mayimbe of Latino Review, who revealed Woods had dropped the Cobra Organization in favor of the Naja / Ryan, a crooked CIA agent. In this draft, Scarlett is married to Action Man but still has feelings for Duke, and is killed by the Baroness. Snake-Eyes speaks, but his vocal cords are slashed during the story, rendering him mute. Mayimbe suggested Stuart Beattie rewrite the script. Fan response to the film following the script review was negative. Bonaventura promised with subsequent rewrites, "I'm hoping we're going to get it right this time." He admitted he had problems with Cobra, concurring with an interviewer "they were probably the stupidest evil organization out there [as depicted in the cartoon]". Hasbro promised they would write Cobra back into the script.
In August 2007, Paramount Pictures hired Stephen Sommers to direct the film after his presentation to CEO Brad Grey and production prexy Brad Weston was well received. Sommers had been inspired to explore the G.I. Joe universe after visiting Hasbro's headquarters in Rhode Island. The project had found the momentum based on the success of Transformers, which Bonaventura produced with Murphy. Sommers partly signed on to direct because the concept reminded him of James Bond, and he described an underwater battle in the story as a tribute to Thunderball. Stuart Beattie was hired to write a new script for Sommers's film, and G.I. Joe comic and filecard writer Larry Hama was hired as creative consultant. Hama helped them change story elements that fans would have disliked and made it closer to the comics, ultimately deciding fans would enjoy the script. He persuaded them to drop a comic scene at the film's end, where Snake-Eyes speaks. To speed up production before the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, John Lee Hancock, Brian Koppelman and David Levien also assisted in writing various scenes. Goldner said their inspiration was generally Hama's comics and not the cartoon. Sommers said had it not been for the rich backstory in the franchise, the film would have fallen behind schedule because of the strike.
After Variety had reported that G.I. Joe became a Brussels-based outfit that stands for Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity, there were reports of outrages over Paramount's alleged attempt to change the origin of G.I. Joe Team. Hasbro responded in its G.I. Joe site claiming it was not changing what the G.I. Joe brand is about, and the name "G.I. Joe" will always be synonymous with bravery and heroism. Instead, it would be a modern telling of the "G.I. Joe vs. Cobra" storyline, based out of the "Pit" as they were throughout the 1980s comic book series.
Filming and design
Filming began on February 11, 2008, in Los Angeles, California. The Downey soundstage was chosen as Paramount needed a large stage to get production underway as soon as possible. The first two levels of the Pit were built there, to complement the rest of the building which would be done with special effects. Downey also housed Destro's MARS base in the Arctic, his legitimate weapons factory in an ex-Soviet state, as well as various submarines interiors, including a SHARC (Submersible High-speed Attack and Reconnaissance Craft) manned by two G.I. Joes.
Filming in the Czech Republic's Barrandov Studios began in May. The crew took over sections of the Old Town in Prague. While filming in the city on April 26, people were injured when a bus and several cars collided with a four-wheel-drive vehicle that appeared to have braking problems. The emergency services confirmed those taken to hospital had minor injuries. Filming wrapped after a month in Prague. Additional second unit filming took place in Paris itself, Egypt, Tokyo, the Arctic and underwater.
Sommers felt "almost 100 percent" of the technology in the film would be available within 10 to 20 years, citing the various books and magazines about developing weapons that he loved reading. For example, Sommers said he believed invisibility was impossible, but the virtual invisibility provided by camouflage camera that projects what is behind a soldier on their front allowed him to include it. The production designers modelled the interior of Destro's private submarine on a Handley Page Jetstream. Sommers said the bulky immobile "accelerator suits" (which Beattie said had enabled them to write "a car chase where one guy's not even in a car") had been tough on the actors and were likely to have their roles reduced in potential sequels. Critics have compared the suits to that of NFL Superpro, a comic book character jointly licensed by the NFL and Marvel Comics, and resembling an armored football player.
Bonaventura predicted the United States armed forces' aid of the film would be limited since much of the hardware is fictional. The filmmakers were denied use of MRAP vehicles at the start of filming because it was ordered many MRAPs had to be sent to the Middle East as soon as possible, though later they permitted filming at Fort Irwin Military Reservation. Some commentators reviewing previews and promotional art from the film have noted superficial resemblances between it and the action film parody Team America: World Police.
Six visual effects companies worked in The Rise of Cobra, the most prominent being Digital Domain, which handled the Paris action sequences and the opening convoy sequence. For the Eiffel Tower destruction, a special code for depicting how the crumbling metal works was written. To create the digital Eiffel Tower, the technicians had access to the original building plans, and built a digital model so complex that it could not fit in a single file. The nanomites used two proprietary software for their depiction, one by Digital Domain, and another by Prime Focus VFX, which also created tools to generate 3D cloud and sky environments for the aerial scenes. Many scenarios were almost fully developed by computer-generated imagery, such as the landing platform of the Pit, the Cobra ice caverns, and the final underwater battle. As for the sound effects themselves, only one is considered popular and isn't instantly recognisable. When the pulse cannon fires upon the main submarine during the polar assault, the sound of a program de-resolution from the 1982 cult movie classic TRON can be heard.
|G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra - Score from the Motion Picture|
|Soundtrack album by Alan Silvestri|
|Released||August 4, 2009|
|Recorded||Sony Sound Stage, Fox Sound Stage|
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra – Score from the Motion Picture was composed by Alan Silvestri, who reunited with director Stephen Sommers to record his score with a 90-piece ensemble of the Hollywood Studio Symphony at the scoring stages at Sony and Fox. A soundtrack album of the score was released by Varèse Sarabande Records on August 4, 2009.
The score came under scrutiny from various soundtrack forums soon after being released. Spectral analysis of the content of the CD revealed certain frequency cutoff patterns around 16 kHz, which are typical for lossy codecs. By analyzing the block size of these cutoffs, individuals at Hydrogenaudio were able to identify the lossy codec that was used before mastering the CD as MP3 with a sample rate of 48 kHz. According to the aforementioned forums, Varèse's German subsidiary Colosseum Schallplatten acknowledged this as a mastering error, while Varèse Sarabande itself denied this. It is so far unclear if a remastered version with full frequency content will be released.
CD Track listing
|1.||"Clan McCullen"||Played during the first scene about Destro's ancestry.||3:07|
|2.||"MARS Industries"||James McCullen XXIV (Destro) demonstrates the nanomoites to NATO.||1:42|
|3.||"Delivering the Warheads"||Duke and Ripcord lead a convoy, while they deliver the warheads to NATO, and get ambushed by the Baroness and the Neo Vipers.||7:24|
|4.||"General Hawk"||Duke and Ripcord talk to General Hawk's holographic display and their arrival to the Pit. The second part is also played in the end when they leave the Pit.||1:36|
|5.||"It Had to Be NATO's Fault!"||James argues with the Baroness in his submarine. Storm Shadow and Zartan first appear.||1:40|
|6.||"King Cobra"||The Doctor's first appearance. He shows James what nanomites can do to the Neo Vipers.||2:58|
|7.||"What Happened to Her?"||Duke reveals to General Hawk his past relationship with the Baroness.||1:16|
|8.||"I Promise"||Duke and Ana's flashback about their past relationship and Duke's engagement. Duke promises Ana that he will watch over her brother, Rex.||2:07|
|9.||"The Pit Battle"||Baroness, Storm Shadow, Zartan and the Neo Vipers attack the Pit in order to retrieve the warheads.||7:24|
|10.||"They Intend to Use Them"||They find out why Destro wanted the warheads back.||1:06|
|11.||"Snake-Eyes"||Snake-Eyes remembers his past with Storm Shadow and how he entered the Arashikage Clan.||2:23|
|12.||"I Have a Target in Mind"||James tells the Baroness and Storm Shadow about his ancestry and his hate for the French. He orders the two to bring the warheads to Paris and "test" their abilities. The Doctor morphs Zartan into his disguise using nanomites.||2:23|
|13.||"The Joes Mobilize"||The Joes chase the Baroness and Storm Shadow across Paris. Duke and Ripcord use the Accelerator suits, while Snake-Eyes jumps around cars and Scarlett uses a motorcycle.||8:24|
|14.||"Northern Route"||The G.I. Joe team discovers James' underwater MARS base.||6:10|
|15.||"Who Are You?"||The Doctor attempts to inject the nanomites in Duke. The Doctor reveals to Duke that he is actually Rex.||3:36|
|16.||"Deploy the Sharcs"||The G.I. Joe team arrives at MARS' arctic base in order to rescue Duke and stop the warheads. Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow engage in a fight. Duke rescues the Baroness and escapes from the underwater base. James McCullen is disfigured.||7:32|
|17.||"Final Battle"||Storm Shadow loses to Snake-Eyes and falls into the icy water.||0:54|
|18.||"Just About Close Enough"||Ripcord prevents the warheads from reaching their destinations.||3:57|
|19.||"The Rise of Cobra"||The Doctor 'heals' James by giving him the nanomite treatment. He actually gives him a steel mask and calls him Destro. The Doctor then turns himself into Cobra Commander.||1:52|
|20.||"I'm Not Giving Up on You"||The Baroness is treated while in prison. Duke tells the Baroness he will never give up on her. The Joes move to their new base, the USS Flagg.||1:49|
|21.||"End Credits"||Originally composed for the end titles (pre-rolling end credits), but replaced by the "Boom Boom Pow" remix.||2:21|
The film was first screened in the US on July 31, 2009 at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. The premiere was at Hollywood's Grauman's Chinese Theater on August 7, 2009, and in the following day, G.I. Joe started playing at 4,007 theaters in the US, along with 35 overseas markets.
The film's actors were scanned for Hasbro's toy line, which began in July 2009 with the release of 3 3/4-inch tall action figures. The Rise of Cobra toy line also includes 12-inch figures, and vehicles, including the first play set based on the Pit in the franchise's history. Electronic Arts developed a video game sequel to the film, also titled G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
IDW Publishing released a four-issue prequel written by Chuck Dixon. Each issue focuses on Duke, Destro, the Baroness and Snake-Eyes respectively. It began publication in March 2009. The weekly film adaptation is written by Denton J. Tipton and drawn by Casey Maloney. The film's universe will be continued by a limited series about Snake-Eyes later in 2009; Ray Park enjoyed playing the character and approached writer Kevin VanHook and artist S. L. Gallant with the idea of a comic further exploring his incarnation of the character.
As part of the movie launch campaign, over 300 12-inch, parachute-equipped, G.I. Joe action figures were dropped from a 42-story Kansas City hotel roof and soar over 500 feet to the ground at 16th Annual International G.I. Joe Convention. For viral marketing, black helicopters with "G.I. Joe" written on them flew on American beaches. Tie-ins were made with Symantec, 7-Eleven, and Burger King.
Paramount's vice chairman Rob Moore claimed the movie was prioritized for mid-Americans, and thus marketing was more focused on cities such as Kansas City and Columbus. In Europe, the marketing was focused on action sequences set in Paris, Egypt and Tokyo, and emphasizes that G.I. Joe is an international team of crack operatives and not some Yankee soldier. Right from the writing stage we said to ourselves, this can't be about beefy guys on steroids who all met each other in the Vietnam War, but an elite organization that's made up of the best of the best from around the world."
G.I. Joe: The Invasion of Cobra Island
In 2009, R.M. Productions Ltd. was contracted by Paramount Pictures Corp. to produce a viral marketing campaign for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. This resulted in the creation of G.I. Joe: The Invasion of Cobra Island, a 2 part animated web video, which eventually went viral. The plot has G.I. Joe called in to stop Cobra when they develop a secret bio-weapon on their hidden island base. It was done in the style of Team America: World Police and Thunderbirds, using a mix of vintage Hasbro G.I. Joe vehicles of the '80s, and the newly produced 25th-anniversary G.I. Joe figures. The characters were animated using custom puppetry techniques, while their faces and other special effects were done using 3D animation software packages.
During the opening weekend (August 7–9), G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra opened at #1 of the North American box office with an estimated $54.7 million. It earned an additional $44 million internationally during the same weekend. In the following week, the film opened in 14 more territories and continued atop the international box office with $26 million.
The film grossed US$302,543,074 worldwide, of which US$150,201,498 was from the United States. While theses results were lower than Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, it was considered to be a financial success. As of July 13, 2011, this marks it as the 15 highest grossing film of 2009.
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was released on November 3, 2009 on Blu-ray Disc and DVD, in regular and two-disc editions. Both editions include an audio commentary by Stephen Sommers and Bob Ducsay, and two making-of featurettes, with the second disk of the special edition holding a digital copy of the film. The film opened at #1 at the DVD sales chart, making $40.9 million off 2,538,000 DVD units in the first week of release. The film sold over 3.8 million discs, 500,000 of them on Blu-ray, during its first week.
Paramount decided to not screen the film for print critics before its release and wanted to focus on internet critics. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 35% approval rating with an average rating of 4.6/10 based on 159 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "While fans of the Hasbro toy franchise may revel in a bit of nostalgia, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is largely a cartoonish, over-the-top action fest propelled by silly writing, inconsistent visual effects, and merely passable performances." Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film has received an average score of 32 out of 100, based on 25 reviews.
One of the many complaints made by fans was that the film failed to relate to the G.I. Joe franchise. G4tv.com stated that, "[the studio] actually went out of their way to butcher the G.I. Joe mythos in favor of derivative storyline devices." They cited the Baroness, who was changed from an East European noble in the comics to Duke's brainwashed ex-girlfriend in the film.
Dan Jolin of Empire magazine commented that it was "Bond without the style and Team America without the bellylaughs". The Daily Telegraph reviewer said, "The taint of cruddiness extends everywhere in this joyless stinker." James Berardinelli said the characters were "as plastic as the toys that inspired them" and considered Tatum "wooden" and that his character was "more animated in sequences when he is rendered by special effects than when being portrayed by Tatum". Roger Ebert described that "there is never any clear sense in the action of where anything is in relation to anything else". Chuck Wilson of The Village Voice criticized the dialogue and described the underwater battle as "absurdly overproduced, momentarily diverting, and then instantly forgettable". Manohla Dargis of The New York Times considered the plot "at once elemental and incomprehensible", and Peter Travers of Rolling Stone thought that, despite the high budget, the special effects "look shockingly crappy; the Eiffel Tower appears to be destroyed by some green slime left over from the Ghostbusters films". Reviewers also criticized the film for the scientific impossibility of sinking ocean ice.
Matthew Leyland from Total Film called it "a throwaway blast of solid, stupid fun" and gave it three out of five stars, particularly praising Joseph Gordon-Levitt's performance as the treacherous Cobra Commander. Sister publication SFX called the film "dumb and dopey, with plenty of bumpy bits" and that "GI Joe has a genuine cliffhanger charm, especially when the last act becomes a whole string of pulp plot twists. The ending screams 'To Be Continued'; we could do worse.", finally awarding the score of three stars out of five. Christopher Monfette of IGN also gave the film a positive review, saying "This is an adult's interpretation of a childhood phenomenon, and if you're willing to give it a shot, one suspects that you'll find yourself entertained enough to give your best, "Yo, Joe!" He gave the film three and a half out of five stars. Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times criticized the excessive flashbacks, but praised the action scenes and design, and considered that Marlon Wayans "steals the show". Dan Kois of The Washington Post thought it was "as polished and entertaining as war-mongering toy commercials get". Tatum won the Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Actor: Action Adventure for his performance as Duke and the film also received three other Teen Choice Award nominations: Choice Movie: Action Adventure, Choice Movie Actress: Action Adventure for Sienna Miller, and Choice Movie: Villain for Joseph Gordon-Levitt. However, the film was also nominated for six Razzie Awards including Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, Worst Supporting Actor for Marlon Wayans and Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel, with Sienna Miller "winning" the Razzie for Worst Supporting Actress at the 30th Golden Raspberry Awards.
In other media
Inspired by the movie, The Ballad of G.I. Joe was released in 2009 on the website Funny or Die. Written by Daniel Strange and Kevin Umbricht, the video short parodies several characters from G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, by showing what they do in their spare time.
A sequel, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, was released on March 28, 2013, directed by Jon Chu. In the film, the Joes are framed as traitors by Zartan, who is still impersonating the President of the United States, and Cobra Commander now has all the world leaders under Cobra's control, with their advanced warheads aimed at innocent populaces around the world. Outnumbered and out gunned, the Joes form a plan with the original G.I. Joe General Joseph Colton to overthrow the Cobra Commander and his allies Zartan, Storm Shadow, and Firefly.
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- Official website
- G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra at AllMovie
- G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra at Box Office Mojo
- G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra at the Internet Movie Database
- G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra at Metacritic
- G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra at Rotten Tomatoes
- G.I. Joe: The Invasion of Cobra Island at the Internet Movie Database
- G. I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra filming locations at Movieloci.com