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Non-Review Review: G.I. Joe – Retaliation

I’m actually just a little bit divided on G.I. Joe: Retaliation. It is not, by any measure, a good film. It’s messy, it’s muddled, it’s over-complicated and under-developed at the same time, it’s nonsense, it’s dumb, it’s loud and it’s all over the map. However, some small part of me sort of admired that G.I. Joe: Retaliation had managed to so perfectly evoke the sensation of playing with toys. Had you given my eight-year-old self a box of G.I. Joe toys and told me to play for two hours, my playtime might have been plotted somewhat similarly to this film. I will concede that I admire the way that G.I. Joe: Retaliation feels more like a bunch of kids playing with toys than a carefully constructed action movie.

At the same time, however, I’m not afraid to admit that my eight-year-old self would have directed a pretty terrible action film.

Rock on...

Rock on…

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Is Classism Alive And Well At The Box Office?

Richard Nixon introduced the phrase “the silent majority” into the popular lexicon, referring to those people who weren’t out protesting or stirring up a storm, but quietly and strongly sanctioning his actions. Since then the term has become almost synonymous with “middle America” or the “the big red middle”, the clear indication that liberalism and activism were traditionally associated with the coasts of the country – specifically concentrated around Washington, New York and California. Whenever loud and vocal protests arise in these regions, expect the more conservative politicians to speak about the silent majority of decent middle-class folks in “flyover country” who don’t make big deals of things and vote with their feet. These are the people, these politicians will tell you, who save their public political expressions for the election day. And so, it would seem, this central part of the country has voted on The Social Network. And silence was certainly there in spades.

The Silent Majority turned down The Social Network's Friend Request...

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Are the Razzies Out of Touch?

People are probably still analysing and analysing the Oscar nominees announced yesterday. I’m still formulating my opinion on the bunch – generally it’s a safe selection, but a reasonable safe selection – I thought I’d take a look at the other great annual awards ceremony. No, not the Olympics. No, not the Golden Globes. No, not even the Winter Olympics. The Golden Raspberry Awards – or Razzies, as they are affectionately known – are announced at this time of year, typically stealing a tiny percentage of the Oscars’ thunder. This year they announced the day before and gave us an eclectic line-up. For those unfamiliar with the Razzies, the idea is celebrate the worst that exists in film. However, part of me wonders if the Razzies have escaped the scrutiny that has long been a part of analysing their bigger brother: are the Razzies out of touch with the common movie-goer?

They've even got a cool little statue thing going on!

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Hell Hath No Fury Like a Critic Scorned…

So, G.I. Joe didn’t get screened for critics as part of Paramount’s unusual marketing. I’m miffed. I’m ticked off. I think it’s a bad omen.

I’m also (apparently) a damnsight more professional than the huge number of film critics out there. Apparently the fact that most of them haven’t seen a frame of it, a huge number of professional film critics are panning the movie.

Are critics a bigger threat to Joe than Destro?

Are critics a bigger threat to Joe than Destro?

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G.I. Joe teams up with Uncle Sam…

I’ll admit it. In my defense, I’m suitably ashamed. But I am a little bit interested in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Yes, I know – deep down in my heart – that it will be terrible. No, I was not a fan of the television show, nor the toys – so I have no defense. I am a fan of Christopher Eccleston and I always have been, so my faith in him is on the line. And Stephen Sommers is the guy behind the two really good Mummy films, right? Still, the most interesting aspect of the production (amid all the rumours and gossip, the leaked reviews – both good and bad) is the approach that the studio is taking to marketing. Some movies – like The Dark Knight or Tron: Legacy or Cloverfield – go the subtle, nuanced approach of viral marketing. They create an emersive, engaging experience. G.I. Joe, on the other hand, is not subtle. The marketing team seems to be hammering home on single message: if you don’t dig this movie, you just ain’t patriotic enough.

No Dennis Quaid, you can't out act him... He's Christopher Eccleston!

No Dennis Quaid, you can't out act him... He's Christopher Eccleston!

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It was the summer of 2009…

Lately I’ve taken a bit of interest in Box Office numbers – I figure that might distract me from the fact Ryan Tuberty is hosting the Late Late. And looking at the few months ahead of us, I can see this being a very big summer for the US box office. In fact, I can see the film industry beating the recession with a large stick (cinema generally does quite well during recessions as it’s well, cheap), thanks to a fairly epic and broad lineup of blockbuster films.

It seems that just about every film this year is a sequel or prequel. Some (Angels & Demons) are both – it’s complicated (the book is a prequel the film is a sequel). We’ve had a relatively strong introduction to the season with the two prequels on offer. Neither Star Trek nor Wolverine broke any major records (though the Imax thing is pretty neat, as is the biggest second-week in May ever). I can see Star Trek having the legs to last in the background at least a month (which, given the onslaught of bigger movies and the disappointing staying power of other would be blockbusters, is really something).

Even before we reach the end of the month, we’ll have the second Dan Brown film, which can’t do too badly with a cast like Ewan McGregor and Tom Hanks and a cult following among a slightly older demographic usually ignored, the fourth Terminator film, which should do big business despite all the reasons that geeks have to worry, and the kid-friendly A Night at the Museum. Rounding off the month’s smaller (pbut possibly slow-burning) releases are Pixar’s Up and Sam Raimi’s return to cult horror with Drag Me to Hell. Again, neither should set opening weekend alight, but I’d expect a decent amount of business from either or both.

Then we have the traditional summer months. Summer movies have been creeping in earlier and earlier (Watchmen was arguably better suited to a summer release; Iron Man last year set the official start-of-season bell back at least a few weeks), but your meat-and-potatoes are here. These are the movies that cannot possibly fail, they are just that wired-in to cheesy pop sentiment. Michale Bay will confirm his title to the throne of summer blockbusters with a brainless sequel to a feature-length toy commercial with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, but even he will likely have to stand in the shade created by what most commentators have settled on as the biggest money-spinner of the year, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. The series has built in devotees that Star Trek can only dream about, and they will be out in full force along with any parent looking to entertain a child over the summer months. This and the fact that my sources within the fan community tell me this is the best book points to a right to print money.

I think that GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra may falter as a brand with relatively little name recognition, despite the most over-qualified cast ever – Christopher Eccleston, people! On the other hand, I really hope that Michael Mann’s Public Enemies can do at least respectably, as the man generally delivers and has an amazing cast at his disposal.

All that said, I wouldn’t expect anyone to dethrone The Dark Knight or Titanic. I just think that culminatively the box office should be huge, but it could hugely backfire and lead to blockbuster fatigue, though I doubt it. It’ll be interesting to read the end-of-year numbers.

After that there’s the lonely Autumn followed by the glut of awards-bait. I’m already hyped about some of the movies we won’t be seeing on this side of the Atlantic for another nine months, but I’ll talk about them some other time.