GI Joe Retaliation

Let’s face it, bad guys get a bad rap. While people are pinning medals on the heroes just before the credits roll, somewhere across the galaxy, someone is writing hundreds of thousands of condolence notices on Death Star letterhead. Nobody ever tries to look at things from the villain’s perspective. That’s what was so great about Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph, it recast bad guys in a pragmatic light. That and of course the renewed interest in Q*Bert that it engendered. Sometimes assignment to either side of the blurry line between good and evil becomes little more than a question of employment. This week, a certain blockbuster film hit theaters…and it hit with an agenda. Sequel G.I. Joe: Retaliation continues the slander campaign begun by its 2009 predecessor against the hardworking men and women of Cobra. As much as this propaganda-filled action diatribe was aimed at painting Cobra as the most evil organization on the planet, the faulty execution of G.I. Joe Retaliation’s narrative inadvertently offers several compelling reasons why we should be swearing our allegiance to this supposed confederacy of megalomaniac scum. Here’s why you should be rooting for Cobra, and not G.I. Joe. Fair warning, there will be Retaliation spoilers ahead.


Junkfood Cinema

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; stuffiness is the disease, we are the cure. This is the only weekly internet column to actually be slapped by Jamie Oliver, slapped right in its meaty face. I am like the mean older brother, each week slapping around the black sheep of Hollywood until they cry. But then, like any good older brother, I release them from the grip of my sardonic Indian burn and give them a loving bro-hug of ridiculous praise. I then take them to Stuckey’s and treat them to a delicious, movie-themed snack item. Whether you like it or not, this is Junkfood Cinema. This week’s target: Cobra


Culture Warrior

No doubt you’ve read about it if you haven’t seen it. The Other Guys, the latest collaboration between masters of the sophomoric Adam McKay and Will Ferrell, concludes with an animated chart-and-graph sequence over its end credits detailing the inner workings of Ponzi schemes, the exponential disparity between the wages of corporate CEOs and their average worker, and the rather comical eventual release date of currently imprisoned white-collar criminal Bernie Madoff. It seems startling at first, for one of the most hilariously dumb comedies of the summer (I certainly don’t mean this as an insult, as true silliness is hard to come by and McKay/Ferrell routinely pull it off masterfully) to conclude with something of a visual lecture. It’s confounding for a film that asks the bare minimum of its viewer to conclude with what seems to be a message built from populist outrage, a message for which there seemed, on the surface, little if any buildup toward. The best course of action – for most critics, anyway – has been to read and enjoy The Other Guys wholly separate from its end credits (films, after all, are often misread as ending before their credits; we’re conditioned not to any pay attention to them). I find this reading of The Other Guys too selective, and its end credits – as didactic and ill-placed as they may seem at first to be – paint a rather different film in hindsight to the one we think we have been seeing.



If you don’t know GI Joe before going into this weekend’s release, then you’ve already lost. Because knowing is half the battle and what not. But you already knew that, right?

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