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GI Joe: Rise of Cobra

April 8, 2010 Leave a comment

So, I watched this last night. It was just like old times.

Now, I should explain that, being English, GI Joe is not the cultural icon that it is to my American counterparts. For me, my only previous experience of GI Joe was an inexplicable urge to follow anything along the lines of “And now I know” with “And knowing is half the battle! GI JOOOOE!”. I had no idea why I did this until I fired it into Google and realised that either a) Internet osmosis is more prevalent and subtle than I ever thought possible or b) I must have seen at least one episode at some point in my life.

So it was with an almost total ignorance of the backstory that I watched this movie, a movie I only rented because a) it was a 12-rated film and that matched the requirement of the evening and b) Andrew is playing a katana-wielding ninja in my d20 Modern game and apparently he’s “based on that guy out of the GI Joe movie”.

As is fairly traditional, this review is full of spoilers. I’m not even sorry.

The movie is a fairly straightforward summer blockbuster – two soliders (the HERO and the BEST FRIEND) are transporting some metal-dissolving weapon. They’re attacked¬† by the HERO’s ex-GIRLFRIEND, who has an utterly awesome attack-drone-fighter-helicopter-thing. The HERO and BEST FRIEND are rescued by the BIG BLACK GUY, the HOT REDHEAD, the SILENT NINJA and the NERDY GUY who reveal themselves to be GI Joes, the best of the best of the best, with honours, sir. The HERO and the BEST FRIEND go with the Joes back to their AWESOME UNDERGROUND BASE, which they’ve built in the Sahara desert, near the pyramids. However, the EVIL SCOTSMAN who built the weapons uses them to find the AWESOME UNDERGROUND BASE and attacks – not before the HERO reveals to the Joes that his GIRLFRIEND is the enemy and that he is responsible for getting her DEAD BROTHER killed. The BEST FRIEND tries to hit on the HOT REDHEAD, but gets mercilessly shut down. Seriously, it’s painful to watch.

Anyway, the EVIL SCOTSMAN, the MASTER OF DISGUISE, the GIRLFRIEND and the EVIL NINJA sneak into the base, steal the weapons back, kill the hot blonde (sob) and run away. They go to the GIRLFRIEND’s husband’s particle accelerator, which they use to “weaponise” (apparently meaning “to activate” rather than “to make into a state suitable for military deployment” – I mean, if they’re not weaponised already, they cannot be used as weapons… never mind) after which they use the metal-eating rocket to knock down the EIFFEL TOWER… which is actually an utterly awesome scene.

Oh, I missed a bit! The HERO and the BEST FRIEND don “accelerator suits”, which is basically every nerd’s dream of what Power Armour will one day be like, complete with a wrist-mounted Gatling gun that is just mind-bogglingly awesome/impossible (I mean, where’s the ammo store?)¬† and proceed to chase down the Hummer carrying the EVIL NINJA and the GIRLFRIEND to their rendezvous with EIFFEL TOWER-destroying glory, destroying at least fifteen cars along the way. The HOT REDHEAD rides a motorbike instead, demonstrating the kind of biking skill which implies that, in reality, she’d’ve ditched the Joes to become X-Games World Champion years ago. The SILENT NINJA climbs aboard the Hummer and… y’know what? Just go watch the damn movie, I can’t explain this bit.

Anyway! The EIFFEL TOWER gets destroyed, the GIRLFRIEND captures the HERO and they all make their getaway to their AWESOME UNDERWATER BASE (which they’ve managed to build beneath the North Pole while attracting no attention whatsoever). The evil scientist who’s been helping the EVIL SCOTSMAN reveals to the HERO that he is in fact the DEAD BROTHER that the GIRLFRIEND has been pining over all these years, and the EVIL SCOTSMAN reveals his plan – to use his metal-eating weapons to destroy Beijing, Washington and London, making them turn to “the most powerful man in the world”.

Anyway, the Joes track down the AWESOME UNDERWATER BASE and proceed to blow the merry hell out of it. The BEST FRIEND steals an utterly awesome jet to track down the city-eating missiles that have just launched, and the HOT REDHEAD leaps after him and gives him a big sloppy kiss. Then, the HOT REDHEAD, the SILENT NINJA and the NERDY GUY sneak into the base to rescue the HERO and kick prodigious amounts of arse, along with an entire company of GI Joes, lead by the BIG BLACK GUY, in what look like attack fighters that go underwater and a whopping great submarine with headlights. We’ll discuss that later.

The HERO manages to free himself and rescue the GIRLFRIEND from her DEAD BROTHER’s mind control, as well as flamethrower the EVIL SCOTSMAN in the face. The HERO and the GIRLFRIEND make their escape, but not before they manage to cripple the submarine that the DEAD BROTHER and EVIL SCOTSMAN are making their escape in.

Meanwhile, the SILENT NINJA and the EVIL NINJA reveal their mutual past, and engage in a duel to the death, at the conclusion of which the EVIL NINJA, mortally wounded, falls into a pit of icy, Arctic water, thereby guaranteeing his place in the sequel.

The DEAD BROTHER destroys the AWESOME UNDERWATER BASE, signally failing to kill anyone with an actual name (some nameless Joes in their awesome underwater attack planes might have died), and proceeds to infect the EVIL SCOTSMAN with his metal-eating machines, which… give him a metal face. I don’t understand it either, but apparently this makes him “Destro”, as well as very unlikely to ever have another girlfriend. The DEAD BROTHER dons the World’s Stupidest Helmet and declares himself “Commander”, and then tries to face down the HERO and the GIRLFRIEND in their attack sub – except that it’s actually the HERO and the GIRLFRIEND in their attack sub, about fifty other Joes and their attack subs, and the aforementioned massive, headlight-equipped sub.

So, the EVIL SCOTSMAN and the DEAD BROTHER are behind… metal and forcefields, because prison cells are just too good for them, the GIRLFRIEND is no longer under mind control but is still locked up, the HERO and the BEST FRIEND are properly invited into the Joes, and the MASTER OF DISGUISE… is the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES! BWAHAHAHAHA!

===

OK, assessment time.¬† The movie is actually really, really good. I know that plot summary made it sound a little stupid, and to be honest a lot of the actual plot is a bit freaky. For me, plotwise, the two biggest problems are the motivations of the DEAD BROTHER and the lovestruck stupidity of the HERO. The DEAD BROTHER brainwashes (and threatens to kill) his sister and plans to destroy the world… FOR SCIENCE! The HERO refuses to kill his GIRLFRIEND after she wiped out his entire unit, nearly killed him and is stealing weapons of horrendous destructive power. OK, it turns out she was brainwashed, but he didn’t know that when he let her walk away with those warheads. Idiot.

Other problems: how does Scarlett know Celtic? I’m English, I have a Celtic-speaking country less than fifty miles from my house and I don’t know one word of Celtic – although I do know that the Scots speak Gaelic, which isn’t the same thing. I could even accept that she knows the word for “Fire”, it’s a fairly basic word… but that she knows the word for “Eject”? I mean, come on, I did five years of German and I couldn’t begin to guess the word for eject in German! (It’s auswerfen – literally, “out-shoot”. God bless the Internet)

Problem two – why does the Joe submarine have headlights? I mean, really, come on! Headlights!

Problem three – this one did bug me more than a little. The HERO sent the DEAD BROTHER into a building to secure some intelligence – and ordered an airstrike on it. Never mind that the target building was less than twenty-five feet from where they were hiding (which is about 590 meters closer than “danger close”), why the hell would you call in an airstrike and then send in the techboy with no fire support whatsoever? The HERO did make a stupid mistake, and he should feel guilty for it, instead of getting all the “it wasn’t your fault” from the BEST FRIEND and, later, the GIRLFRIEND. Yes it was! It was his fault!

On the upside, though, I have to mention the fantastic acting by the bad guys in this movie. And Dennis Quaid. Ham And Cheese to the max. The bad guys realise they’re in a summer blockbuster, and compensate for any weakness in the plot by being as hammy as possible. It masks any problems with the script, the dialogue or the plot so effectively that, apart from the problems above, I couldn’t tell you what else was wrong. Absolutely brilliant.

Overall, then, a simple summer blockbuster, with impressive action sequences, an insane amount of equipment that made me say “I want one!”, a wide collection of beautiful women and more explosions than a Michael Bay movie without the concomitant feeling that you’ve made the world a little bit worse by endorsing that man. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, go watch it. Seriously, it’s actually surprisingly good.

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Categories: General Musings

Post the First

March 24, 2010 Leave a comment

I use this all the time at work, so I thought I might as well get my own. This will be a place to store all those obscure musings I don’t have anywhere else to put.

First, the origin of the name. It’s from Henry Kuttner’s Clash By Night.

Second, this place is going to be a place for my thoughts on DS9. I just started watching the series again, and I feel the need to express my thoughts on it. Yay the internet, where I can do so and feel like I’m achieving something!

Third, this might become part of my d20 Modern campaign. Or not. I haven’t decided yet.