G.I. Joe: The Rise of a Bad Franchise

Credited as the first “action figure,” G.I. Joe came to life in 1964 as Hasbro’s answer to Mattel’s Barbie doll. There were actually four Joes — one for each branch of the armed forces — and in the imaginations of boys everywhere, they fought Nazis. Forty-odd years later, the Joes have evolved into an international band of soldiers seeking to bring down the evil Cobra Command.

In the first of what’s likely to be a lucrative new film series, director Stephen Sommers (The Mummy series, Van Helsing) outfits actors Channing Tatum and Marlon Wayans in “accelerator suits” that allow them to jump cars and buses in a single bound as they and their team attempt to retrieve a suitcase containing nano technology that a lunatic billionaire (Christopher Eccleston) plans to use for world domination.

After a first hour that plays like a bad TV show, Sommers hits his groove with an over-the-top Paris chase sequence that, in turn, leads to an underwater finale that’s absurdly overproduced, momentarily diverting, and then instantly forgettable.

The script—by Stuart Beattie, David Elliot, and Paul Lovett— is full of embarrassingly bad dialogue, but a recent midnight screening audience laughed benignly, as if to say that they hadn’t exactly been expecting profundity and wit from a summer-season toy-soldier flick. Rated PG-13

 
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