|G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Stephen Sommers|
|Based on||G.I. Joe|
|Music by||Alan Silvestri|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$302.5 million|
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is a 2009 American military science fiction action film based on the toy franchise created by Hasbro, with particular inspiration from the comic book series and toy line G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. It is the first installment in the live-action G.I. Joe film series. The film was directed by Stephen Sommers. 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 Military Armaments Research Syndicate (M.A.R.S.) 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 made its world premiere at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California on August 6, 2009. The next day, it was widely released worldwide on August 7, 2009, 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 generally mixed. A sequel titled G.I. Joe: Retaliation was released on March 28, 2013.
In the near future, weapons master James McCullen has created a nanotech-based weapon - nanomites designed to devour metal and other materials, capable of destroying anything from tanks to cities. The nanobots can only be stopped by activating the kill switch. His company M.A.R.S. sells four warheads to NATO, and NATO troops led by American soldiers Duke and Ripcord are asked to deliver the warheads. Their convoy is ambushed by the Baroness, whom Duke recognizes to be his ex-fiancee Ana Lewis. Duke and Ripcord are rescued by Scarlett, Snake Eyes, Breaker, and Heavy Duty. 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. 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, planning on using the warheads to cause worldwide panic and bring about a new world order. Using a tracking device, McCullen locates the G.I. Joe base and sends Storm Shadow and the Baroness to retrieve the warheads, with assistance from Zartan.
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 in his particle accelerator; after he reluctantly does this, DeCobray is killed by Storm Shadow. 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. However, 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 the three remaining warheads onto three missiles, which are aimed for Beijing, Moscow, and Washington, DC, the world's three most important capitals. He states that he intends to do this because by killing millions of people in these cities, he will 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 of America. After Snake Eyes takes out one missile, Ripcord destroys the remaining two by 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 McCullen's employer 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 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 Rex and he flee to an escape vessel. Duke and the Baroness pursue him while the Joes fall back; when Rex activates the base's self-destruct sequence, which involves 'blowing the ice cap' to create blocks of ice which then nearly crush the Joes.
Rex 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, thus completing a part of McCullen's plan to rule the world.
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. Instead they chose to concentrate the company's efforts upon its 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 di Bonaventura worked together before, creating toy lines for films di Bonaventura had produced as CEO of Warner Bros. Goldner and di Bonaventura spent three months working out a story, and chose Michael B. Gordon as screenwriter, because they liked his script for 300. Di 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. Di Bonaventura related, "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 di 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. Di Bonaventura explained, "Unfortunately, our president [George W. Bush] 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. Di 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 di 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 the film recharacterizes G.I. Joe as being a Brussels-based outfit whose name stands for "Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity", there were reports of fan outrage over Paramount's alleged attempt to change the origin of G.I. Joe Team. Hasbro responded on its G.I. Joe site that it was not changing what the G.I. Joe brand is about, and the name 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 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 filming 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, Egypt, Tokyo, the Arctic, and underwater.
Sommers felt "almost 100 percent" of the technology in the film would actually become 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 the background of a soldier's body upon its 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.
Di Bonaventura predicted that the aid offered by the United States armed forces to the film's development would be limited since much of the hardware depicted in the film is fictional. The filmmakers were denied use of MRAP armored vehicles at the start of filming as the Defense Department had just prioritized their deployment on combat operations; however, they were later permitted to film the vehicles at the National Training Center 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, special software was written for depicting how the crumbling metal works. 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 computer file. For the nanomites, designers used two proprietary software applications for their depiction--one made 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 recognizable. 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|
|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.
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 was written by Denton J. Tipton and drawn by Casey Maloney. The film's universe continued in 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, more than 300 12-inch, parachute-equipped, G.I. Joe action figures were dropped from a 42-story Kansas City hotel roof and soared across 500 feet to the ground at the 16th Annual International G.I. Joe Convention. For viral marketing, black helicopters with "G.I. Joe" written on them flew over 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 elite operatives and not "about beefy guys on steroids who all met each other in the Vietnam War."
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 two-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 1980s, 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.
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, and later as a book and as a video game. Both disc editions include 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 from 2,538,000 DVD units in the first week of its release. The film sold more than 3.8 million discs, 500,000 of them on Blu-ray, during its first week. The film was released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray on July 31, 2018.
During the opening weekend (August 7-9, 2009), 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. This made it the third Hasbro film to reach number one at the box office after Transformers, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
The film grossed $150 million in the United States and $152.3 million internationally for a worldwide gross of $302.5 million against a production budget of $175 million. It is the 22nd highest-grossing film of 2009 and the 10th highest film of 2009 to gross $300 million worldwide behind Star Trek, Monsters Vs. Aliens, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Terminator Salvation, Fast & Furious, A Christmas Carol, Inglourious Basterds, The Proposal, and The Blind Side.
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 describing it as "loudest, flashiest, silliest and longest blockbuster in a summer full of long, silly, flashy, loud blockbusters" thought it was "as polished and entertaining as war-mongering toy commercials get".
Cast members Eccleston and Tatum have been critical of the film in the years since its release, with Eccleston stating "Working on something like GI Joe was horrendous. I just wanted to cut my throat every day". Tatum, in an interview with Howard Stern, stated he hated the film, revealing he was pushed into doing the film as to fulfill a three picture deal he had signed with Paramount.
Tatum won the Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Actor: Action for his performance as Duke and the film also received three other Teen Choice Award nominations: Choice Movie: Action, Choice Movie Actress: Action for Sienna Miller, and Choice Movie: Villain for Joseph Gordon-Levitt. However, the film was also nominated for six Razzies 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 becoming the biggest stump for 2010.
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, and featuring celebrities such as Olivia Wilde, Zack Galifianakis, Alexis Bledel, Henry Rollins, and Vinnie Jones, 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 Cobra Commander and his allies Zartan, Storm Shadow, and Firefly.