Sunday, August 09, 2009


G.I. Joe is back in a big budget action packed movie entitled G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. And if you have any fond memories of the 1980's cartoon series, you can forget about them. This movie charts it's own mythology in the Joe franchise.

The action centers on Duke and Ripcord, two soldiers who link up with the top secret G.I. Joe unit. Their mission: keep a new, dangerous weapon of mass destruction out of the hands of a ruthless terrorist organization. And that is pretty much it. The action moves at a steady pace and the stunt sequences are very impressive. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is a very LOUD movie, with explosions, weapons fire, and high-tech aircraft screaming everywhere. If you can stand the sheer sound barrage, it's not really a bad movie.

What keeps this movie from being really good or great is the sheer weight of its own material. The G.I. Joe team has dozens of members, making it impossible to highlight more than a handful. The good guy/bad guy combos of Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow and Duke/Baroness are developed a little, as is Destro. But there is a limit to how many "biographies" you can showcase in one movie. The producers are left with little choice than to either ignore or kill off certain characters.

G.I. Joe also suffers from an identity crisis. At some points, it is like a classic military drama (albeit with some sci-fi undertones). But at other points, it becomes a live action cartoon. I got the distinct impression that it was trying too hard to "be like the toys" in some cases. In my opinion, the movie would have looked better if it dropped the franchise connection and stuck to one kind of storytelling.

This new G.I. Joe is not "a real American hero" either. Instead, it is a multi-national task force, with members from around the globe. Again, just an opinion, but I believe a subtle dose of patriotism would have benefited this movie greatly. Even so, there is a definite theme of camaraderie and working together that is cliche but effective.

At best, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is a slam bang, action packed guy flick. It is not suitable for children due to the level of violence and occasional profanity. Most of the violence is action-adventure kind of violence, with a lot of explosions and crashes. Unfortunately, there is no depiction of the innocent bystanders and how they may have been injured or killed during the skirmishes between the heroes and villains. As for the profanity, it is contextual and (thankfully) limited. Not that I want to hear it at all, but I've known soldiers and sailors who can let loose with a lot worse far more frequently. G.I. Joe is more restrained, in spite of the intensity of action.

Aside from a few catch phrases ("knowing is half the battle") and inside jokes about lifelike hair (from the 70's Adventure Team commercials), there are no real nods to either the action figures, cartoons, or comics. This is a new G.I. Joe, almost a reinvention. Time (and fans) will tell whether this new Nato-friendly team will prevail over the "real American hero" version.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is rated PG-13.


You'll never guess what our lesson was about at Sunday Morning Celebration?'s the classic account of the battle between David and Goliath. It was several years ago that we asked a woman in our church to make a 9'9" giant in armor. Afterwards, we rolled him back up and stored him away. Unfortunately, in a fit of cleaning just last year, our life-size Goliath poster got tossed (reason #27 as to why I don't like throwing things never know when you might need that junior high term paper or a nearly 10 foot tall poster!). I discovered the fate of Goliath on Saturday, neccesitating some last minute artistic maneuverings. And as long as you don't get nitpicky about too many details, it came out pretty good!

The best part of the morning was not only retelling the story and seeing the kids' faces light up when I brought out my leather slingshot. It was making the point that we all have problems...sometimes big problems, sometimes little ones...but God is with us and He's powerful and the things that seem big to us are not big at all to Him.

Our 3rd-5th grade small group teacher stands up to Goliath.

Big giant, but little kids with bigger faith

Nine feet, nine inches!

Having fun and making the point