Movie Review: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

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Movie Review: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

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G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is a Hollywood action movie packed with CGI-enhanced martial arts; explosions; sci-fi hi-tech weapons; chase scenes and topped off with near superhuman ‘good’ and ‘bad guys.’ Typical of Hollywood-type action movies, the plot centers around preventing the bad guys from attaining global dominance. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, like another summer blockbuster, Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, is one of many movies that promotes militarism and by extension imperialism.

The story opens with a weapons dealer, McCullen (later revealed as bad guy, Destro), showing off a new high-tech weapon, the Nanomite warhead. The weapon, loosely based on emerging technologies, is said to be able to destroy “any and all material in its path.” The first to procure this new weapon is the United States. The main protagonist, Duke, is charged with leading a NATO force to deliver four of the warheads. The audience is never challenged to ask why the U.S. wants or gets this weapon, let alone four of them, nor what would happen once it gets them. Instead the plot predictably begins when the warheads are stolen by the ‘bad guy’ Cobra force.

Unlike the G.I. Joe toys and cartoons, the new live-action G.I. Joe force is multinational, consisting of the “top men and women of the best  military units of the world.” Prior to the theft of the Nanomite warheads, it is unclear what purpose such an elite military force might serve. The two male protagonists who join the G.I. Joe force after the start of the movie, Duke and Ripchord, seem more interested in running around in suits which give them superhuman strength and speed than serving any humanitarian or even patriotic ends. At the beginning of the movie, Ripchord expresses interest in joining the U.S. Airforce simply so he can pilot military jets.

As the movie develops, the G.I. Joe force must stop the Cobra from destroying Washington D.C., Bejing and Moscow. The leader of the Cobra force is the Cobra Commander, a former friend of Duke’s who wants to use the Nanomite technology to attain global power. The Cobra Commander is aided by Destro the weapons dealer, a small army of mind-controlled fearless soldiers, and the Baroness, a former love interest of Duke’s who is also mind-controlled throughout most of the movie.

In the real world, where both high-tech weapons capable of small and vast destruction and various elite, multinational, sometimes private military units exist, bad guys like the Cobras don’t. In the real world, millions of people die from starvation and malnutrition, not violent conspiracies to usurp global power. The system responsible for these deaths, imperialism, also creates conditions whereby oppressors join the military for the ‘thrill’ of using destructive weapons, flying fast and blowing things up. However, these people are not heroes.

Today, in the real world, most state militaries and elite multinational  forces serve to maintain the imperialist system which starves millions. Taken out of the context of imperialism and global class systems, there is no need for elite military units. Action movies such as G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen create ridiculous fictional stories in which imperialist militaries are portrayed not as the protectors of global class structure, but as playing a positive role for humanity. ‘Ordinary,’ relatable characters such as Duke and Ripchord, who, in real life would play a mundane role in a profoundly awful system, are seen as both more significant and depoliticized: they’re “in the middle of the action” and supposedly saving the world. Amerikan and First World audiences, who are not routinely subjected to imperialist threats and aggression, might find themselves envious of such adventures and abilities. And whereas First World movie-goers, people who economically benefit from imperialist militarism, can’t join or cheer for the G.I. Joe force in real life, they conveniently can the U.S. military, NATO, Blackwater (now called Xe), the IDF and various other imperialist military organizations.

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5 Comments

Filed under Imperialism, Iraq, Movie Reviews

5 responses to “Movie Review: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

  1. chicom in babylon

    …yea no surprises here. movie about a cartoon/toy franchise glorifying imperialist military adventures is imperialist

    I’d be much more interested in seeing a review of the movie District 9 from a general left perspective, and an anti-imperialist one in particular. Here are some of my quick thoughts on that:

    On the one hand we have a highlighting of an extreme oppression and brutalization of sentient beings (none of which was not done to actual humans in colonized Africa, I should note) and the struggle against this system. The situation is clearly unjust, and to fight back justified, but the oppressed masses are unorganized and unable to rise up. Liberal human rights groups look on uselessly as alien people are horrifically tortured and murdered (in quite gruesome detail). Now, I don’t want to spoil stuff just yet, but basically, the story from there completely throws actual revolutionary science out the window and relies on near-magical technology to wage war (so, no organizing an alien people’s army and forming a united front with allies in their struggle against what must have been one of the major exploitative powers in their world, if you hadn’t guessed that about a big-budget Hollywood sci-fi flick yet). Also a whole lot of pigs get blasted to bits, which I loved.

    • We have heard about the movie District 9, and we may go see that movie soon and do a review. We also welcome other writers who would like to contribute writings. If you have a movie review on this film you can send it to us and we can consider posting it.

      • Serve the People

        The author above should consider developing her comments into a full review. Especially in the First World, the few people that are sympathetic to our line should understand that they are among the most politically advanced. As such, they have the privilege and the duty to do political work.

        The comments above are a good foundation for a politically sophisticated review of some of Follywood’s latest propaganda.

  2. Fcuk America

    Speaking of Hollywood propaganda films that glorify American militarism and chauvinism, guess which crappy Cold War era movie is being remade?

    Red Dawn.

    Only instead of Godless Russians (and Cubans) invading the American fatherland, the plot is now Godless Chinese (and Russians) invading the American fatherland.

    Apparently, the remake is so extreme in its Rah, Rah, Rah American bloodlust that at least one Asian American actor declined to participate in it after reading the script.

    http://minoritymilitant.blogspot.com/2009/08/by-any-means-necessary.html

  3. Thank you for this post

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