G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra Blu-ray Review
PictureG.I. Joe comes pumping to Blu-ray with a glossy 1080p High Definition video presentation in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen. Detail is not quite as good as you would hope for - although far from objectionable - with the majority of the movie looking as good quality as you would expect from this kind of big budget blockbuster, but some moments seemingly softened to better integrate the heavy effects. This either results in scenes looking totally CG (like the shot where the 'Joes transport first arrives at the desert), or scenes where the CG is glaringly - and jarringly - obvious (like where Scarlett rides the bike around and the boys are space-hopping across Paris). The softness, whilst catering for the extravagant but not finely rendered effects, does mean that the detail is generally not quite as good as you would normally find in such a glossy, big-budget production. For the most part this is not really a problem, and is unlikely to significantly impinge upon your viewing pleasure but, to be honest, this should have been a seamlessly integrated effects extravaganza along the lines of Transformers or Iron Man - you would expect no less considering the budget for the flick. Still, the colour scheme is glorious, the bright and vivid settings, the crazy blue pulse weapons, the vibrant explosions that look never less than authentic, it certainly is a pretty palette, presented well. Black levels are quite good throughout, neither exceptional nor objectionable, and overall this is a strong video rendition, though perhaps not as good a presentation as you would expect from $175,000.
SoundThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio track delivers the action in spades, but has very little subtlety. Honestly though, you don't buy this kind of movie expecting nuanced atmospherics, you expect bombast - and that's what you get. Aside from the advanced weaponry on offer - which sees helicopters flattened, powerful weapons pounding out pulses against troops who get blown across the screen, rockets firing, missiles launched, and mass destruction all around (particularly in poor Paris). This allows the surrounds to dominate your living room, oppressing you with the insanely over-the-top action and really bringing the overblown warzone right down into your home cinema. Bass levels are good, taking off with some of the more noisy effects, and giving you a few tremors across the two-hour runtime. If there is any slight complaint, it is that aforementioned lack of subtlety, which leaves the dialogue something somewhat struggling for attention in amidst the furore of the effects, but with such poor (and poorly-delivered) dialogue I suspect this is not a great loss.
ExtrasAlthough we do not get a vast number of extras to accompany (or justify) this 2-disc set, the ones we do get cover the basics - albeit in an occasionally flimsy fashion. The Audio Commentary from the Director Stephen Sommers (and his producer) is surprisingly honest. Although he - expectedly - presents the movie as being the best summer blockbuster ever, he does also talk about the writers' strike difficulties (they didn't finish the script until three days before they finished filming!!!) and the rush to get the effects work done, even noting the effects sequences that he felt did not look as good as they should. This is quite refreshing from a Director, so if you take his words with a bowl of salt there is plenty of insight to be gleaned from this offering. On the second disc we get two Documentaries. The Big Bang Theory: The Making of G.I. Joe is a fairly interesting half-hour look at G.I. Joe's comic and toy origins in the 80s, the way in which the filmmakers tried (albeit unsuccessfully) to splice what fans deserve with what newcomers expect, the costumes, characters, set designs and the effects sequences. Taking a more detailed look at the effects we also get Next Gen Action: The Amazing Visual FX and Design of G.I. Joe, which runs at about twenty minutes in length. Any Featurette that talks about how 'amazing' the movie is in its very title will automatically put me off before I even start watching it, and this is no exception, offering a much more fluffy, promotional look at the effects scenes. I'm still reeling at the whole 'amazing' thing, especially when the effects here are far from perfect - and jarringly obvious for the entirety of the movie. Finally we get a bunch of forced trailers on startup. Did Shamalamalamalayan really call his latest movie The Last of the Airbenders?!
VerdictG.I. Joe is a silly, effects-laden big budget extravaganza, a no-brain summer blockbuster in the extreme, insulting audience members with its inane antics, poor plotting, terrible characters, worse script, acting and dialogue delivery, and - frankly - flawed effects. Still, even if it will probably have fans of the 80s franchise protesting on the streets, it has been far from unsuccessful, proving that there are still plenty of people out there who can literally switch their brains off to watch this kind of popcorn flick. The video and audio for this US Region Free Blu-ray release are very good indeed, and we get a couple of nice extras, but strangely none of it is as good as you would expect from a $175 Million Dollar movie, and that pretty-much sums this all up. Perhaps they'll replace Channing Tatum with Matt Damon for the sequel and have it directed by Chris Nolan, but more than likely we'll just get more of the same because nobody can be bothered to give us something decent. Glossy and shiny but disappointingly thin, rent it but leave your brain as deposit at the video store.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.79
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