So, we finally got to see G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Had to drag my ass to this one especially since the last movie we saw, District 9, was plainly disgusting and I felt traumatized watching movies that boast of nothing much aside from computerized visual effects. Today’s a holiday, no school for both girls, but I thought the inclement weather had gone to my rescue and provided the perfect excuse not to go out when it poured cats and dogs at around 3.00 p.m. What can I say? I don’t like movies that glorify war and soldiers (okay, so it turned out that G.I. Joe was nothing along those lines). But the rains stopped, we all showered and got ready to go. And we did. And I thought I had the perfect excuse (again) to turn back and go home when we got to the mall and found the parking lot full. But the top level of the car park had vacant slots, Speedy parked the truck and off we went to get tickets. After a hurried dinner, it was movie time.
Ten minutes into the movie, Sam turned to me and asked: “Mommy, what’s G.I.?”
Me: “Government issue.”
Sam: “Galvanized iron.”
Me (rolling my eyes in the dark): “Yero? Bubong? Kulahan?”
I don’t think Sam knew what kulahan meant, she belongs to the generation of washing machines and fabric softeners, she went back to watching the movie and so did I.
When we got home, I checked the dictionary for the definition of G.I. My Mac’s dictionary says: “A private soldier in the U.S. Army. ORIGIN 1930s (originally denoting equipment supplied to U.S. forces): abbreviation of galvanized iron; later misinterpreted as an abbreviation of government (or general) issue.”
From WordOrigins.Org: “G.I. was originally a semi-official U.S. Army abbreviation for galvanized iron, used in inventories and supply records. It dates to at least 1907 and is commonly found in records from the First World War.”
From Dictionary.Com: “1915–20; orig. abbr. of galvanized iron, used in U.S. Army bookkeeping in entering articles (e.g., trash cans) made of it; later extended to all articles issued (as an assumed abbrev. of government issue) and finally to soldiers themselves.”
So, Sam is correct. G.I. means galvanized iron. Unbelievable. We watched a movie about kulahan. I don’t know what the English word for kulahan is. If you’re not a Filipino, or you’re too young to remember the days when laundrywomen laid out soap-soaked clothes to bleach them under the sun, kulahan refers to the G.I. sheets where the clothes were laid out.
So, anyway, how did I like G.I. Joe? It was okay, although… what the heck happened to Dennis Quaid? Trying to offset the effects of aging by posing and barking like a toughie? Shucks. The head of an elite military unit… that suggests a lot more brains than others of his rank and age. Quaid’s General Hawk turned out to be a caricature that reminded me of bad Jim Carrey characters. Apart from that, G.I. Joe was quite enjoyable for the most part (there were segments when my mind just went blank). Nothing to rave about but much better than District 9 (Alex and I walked out halfway through District 9, leaving Sam and Speedy to finish it).
I can’t complain about the fantastic visual effects of G.I. Joe. However, I take issue with the story. Or, rather, the lack of it. A common issue with films of this genre. Too much testosterone-pumping action and never mind the story line. I take issue with the pacing too. Action is great but bombarding the viewer with nothing but action from start to finish really detracts rather than enhances the experience. That’s the reason why I liked X-Men and its sequels but not Transformers. If the flashbacks (eg. when Duke proposed to Ana) were meant as breathers from the (iron) pumping action, they looked out of place — like discordant notes in a melody.
And this, I have to articulate now. I have noticed this in the past, notably in the first two Matrix films (I didn’t like the third very much), but was never able to couch the observation in the right words. Mind-blowing visuals in action films are awesome but nothing — NOTHING — can be more graceful and artful that a well-choreographed fight scene. Too bad that director Stephen Sommers saw it fit to fill the movie with more galvanized iron than human interaction.
G.I. Joe is something you take your fill of while experiencing it. When the moment passes, it’s over. It’s not like the Matrix films which tickle the mind and elicit some kind of curiosity that often makes the viewer want to discuss it after seeing the film. Even the X-Men films have this effect although in a much lesser sense. G.I. Joe is more like the Transformer movies with its few funny moments, impressive computer work, but no memorable characters unless you’re a girl watcher, then, the image of Megan Fox is all that remains.
In G.I. Joe, you may get a lot of that too with Sienna Miller and Rachel Nichols and their unabashed sensuality that the director exploited to the hilt. It elicits no strong emotions, it doesn’t make you want to stand up and cheer, it doesn’t make you mad at the villains, you don’t feel sympathy for any of the characters… In short, the characters in G.I. Joe may all look good but they don’t mean much. Add that to the thin story line and all you have are computer generated visuals and expensive film sets. But then again, those may be the only selling points that the producers and director intended. So they may have succeeded. Whatever.