80's Hasbro toys face off as they both get the big budget, silver screen treatment.
Stephen Sommers brings us G.I. Joe, a film that clearly shuffles principle characters, plot hooks, and established continuity to create a setting that is politically correct for today's audience. However, G.I. Joe has lost its relevance for over 12 years, kept marginally alive by a retro fan base and a comic series targeting a mature audience. The result is a confusing hodge-podge of characterization and story. Most of the Joe team have an updated look with a few exceptions. Fan favorite Snake-Eyes' costume is an exact replica of the action figure, giving him a bulky, awkward appearance that seems impractical as a uniform. Played by martial artist turned Hollywood action star Ray Park, it greatly limited his movement, and he seemed uncomfortable throughout the film. Breaker, the teams communication expert, seems at odds using advance gadgets, yet sports the bulky, oversized headset transmitter that hasn't been used since 1984. Destro is sans metallic helmet, and Cobra Commander, named, "the Doctor", has neither the hood or mirror mask, but something all together different. Character relationships are altered too. Sure, the Baroness and Destro still have their romance, but now, Baroness is the Doctor's sister, only she doesn't know it. She also was once dated Duke, who was army pals with Ripcord and the Doctor. Quite the coincidence. Cobra assassin Storm Shadow is misused as a sabatour, much more like the absent character Firefly. Ripcord, a secondary character in established continuity, is the number two guy in this film. Marlon Wayans plays Ripcord as the comedic sidekick to Channing's Duke. If anyone nailed a character, it was Sienna Miller as the Baroness. She was hot, cunning, and ruthless, everything the Baroness was in the 80's minus the Natasha-like accent. Still, G.I. Joe did have a few bright spots, including Destro's transformation, a chase scene through the streets of Paris, and Zartan assuming the identity of the President.
Michael Bay directs this Steven Spielberg produced film in which two factions of a robotic alien race come to Earth looking for the All Spark, an ancient device that brings life to mechanical objects. The Tansformers are robots who can assume an alternate mechanical form, such as a car, plane, radio, etc. The story centers on Sam Witwicky, played by Shia LeBeouf, who's dad is taking him to get his first car. That car just happens to be an alien named Bumblee, a member of the Autobots. They seek out Sam due to an ad he placed on ebay, trying to sell a pair of glasses his famous Great Grandfather, and explorer, once owned. Unbeknownst to all, the glasses have an etching on the lenses that locate the all spark. But the Autobots aren't the only ones on Earth looking for Sam. The Decepticons are here as well, and unlike the Autobots, the Decepticons have no regard for human life. The Decepticons are also hacking into the military data base looking for records on "the iceman", referring to a large robotic man discovered by Capt. Witwicky in the Arctic. This robot has been kept on ice, as well as the All Spark, by the U.S. government under the agency known as Sector 7. The iceman is non other than Megatron, leader of the Decepticons who discovered the All Spark on Earth over 100 years ago.
Both films are directed by people known more for big explosions than artistic merit. However, Bays translation of the source material to film is handled far better. Bay also explores the characters more, giving the human characters just as much involvement as the Transformers themselves. G.I. Joe is handicapped from the beginning with its lack of focus and poor treatment of the source material. This match is very one-sided. Except for a few good shots, G.I. Joe is clearly outclassed. Joe throws in the towel at round 4.