G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA (2009). Director: Stephen Sommers.
"G. I. Joe" actually began life as a Hasbro toy -- pardon me, action figure -- for boys back in the sixties. Eventually "G.I. Joe" became the name of an international special ops division instead of an individual, fighting a sinister group known as Cobra [Read: THRUSH], and Hasbro brought out more character dolls of both good guys -- and gals -- and bad. There was more than one cartoon show based on the toys, several comic book series [one from Marvel amassed 155 issues and was revived last year], a whole slew of animated feature films, and at least one live-action movie. Most of the major characters are represented in this film, which explains the origins of Cobra and its main members Destro and Cobra Commander, while having our heroes running around trying to stop their dastardly plot -- using missiles to wipe out cities. These missiles are more than mere explosives, however; they contain "nanomites" which can eat through metal and in the film's most exciting scene, do just that to the Eiffel Tower [and assorted cars etc.] in Paris! A sub-plot has "Duke's" former fiancee, Ana, now working for Cobra, which employs conscienceless mind-slaves to do much of its dirty work. There's some great high-tech stuff and FX in the movie, which is often simply too frenetic for its own good. Fans of the cartoons and comics will probably have a better time than the rest of us, but the picture does have its exciting moments. The acting is more than adequate for this kind of stuff, although there are no real cast-stand-outs. Some might find Channing Tatum a bit stiff as Duke, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt a bit wasted as Rex/Cobra Commander. Sienna Miller and Rachel Nichols are okay as the ladies on opposite sides.
Verdict: Noisy, busy, and not half-bad. **1/2.