Monday, August 17, 2009

costume review: G.I. Joe The Rise of Cobra

I had no interest in seeing this movie. My husband bribed me with popcorn, an action he probably regretted, since I spent the movie spewing it at the screen.

I'll be up-front: I was a Joe fanatic in my pre-teen days. But I got off that train a long time ago, and I could tell by the trailer that the movie was a loud, frantic, emotionally immature, sloppily-scripted, overly-CGI'ed wankfest. I wasn't wrong.

The casting was fairly highbrow for a movie of this caliber, and the actors did the best they could with the material. Channing Tatum has taken critical flack for being wooden, but he didn't bother me. Damon Wayons also failed to annoy me for the first time in his career. The banter between the two of them was relaxed and natural, if not terribly original.

Arnold Vosloo, who I have only ever known as "The Mummy," was a dead-on Zartan--intense, gleeful, and slightly twitchy--and I sure wish there had been more of him on the screen. His "Mummy" costar, Brendan Fraser, gave me the biggest (and only) fangirl thrill of the movie when he appeared in an uncredited cameo as Flint (on the character is called "Sergeant Stone" but I know better). And Sienna Miller was a perfect Baronness, insomuch as the writers allowed her to resemble the Baronness of old.

Dennis Quaid, on the other hand, was just BAD. I had expected him to be a worthy General Hawk. But he approached the role as if doing a mid-afternoon stage performance for a group of kindergarteners--blustering, growling and over-the-top. Every word that came out his mouth made me wince.

The costumes were a real mixed bag in this movie. On a set where everything is over-the-top, the costumers were under real pressure to make the characters stand out visually. And they succeeded, but not always in a good way.

First, the bad:

Scarlett: Hair too red. Makeup too bright. Curls too tumbling and artful. Where did she find time to apply the curling iron? No woman with long hair knowingly goes into battle without some ponytail holders. And what was with the molded breasts and thong on her black body armor? Weren't these people present for Batman Forever a/k/a Nipplegate?

Snake Eyes: Ridiculous molded lips on his mask. Visor protruding from his face like the prow of a battleship. Appalling polysterene body armor with fake muscles which I'm quite sure are not as impressive as Ray Park's own physique. Hey guys--let's take one of the most physically impressive guys in Hollywood and swaddle him in black rubber. Awesome.

The Doctor/Rex/Cobra Commander: Joseph Gordon-Levitt spends the whole movie buried under latex scarring, breathing mask and plastic neck-corset. To compensate for the loss of any means of physical expression, he gasps and groans and chuckles menacingly. Gordon-Levitt is supposed to be this renouned actor, but I kept thinking that David Bowie wouldn't have needed all the aparatus to pull off a crippled madman--nor would he have allowed it to get in his way.

Storm Shadow: Rendering his white ninja suit in leather was a bad idea. It was bulky and weird. The coattails were stupid--remember Edna Mode's diatribe against capes? Plus he looked kind of like an Imperial Storm Trooper on Hoth.

The Good:

Storm Shadow's white three-piece suit: Delicious. Sleek, leonine, classic. Byung-hun Lee was so stunning in white with his dark hair and catlike features I immediately wanted to see him playing an amoral but conflicted Tong crimelord who'd decided to go straight. Heck, maybe he's already done that role. Be right back....

The BARONESS. A fairy-gothmother collection of decadent leather catsuits with assorted details and texturing. I particularly liked the one with the black crocodile V-inset at the bust and the low-slung leather belt. Her constant costume changes made sense for the character--she was essentially a Bond villianess--wealthy, plush, and hedonistic. The only time she failed to look stunning was in the hospital scrubs at the very end. Sienna Miller should seriously consider keeping her hair black.

Destro/McCullen: Impeccably tailored wool/silk suits. Pinstripes. Silk ties. Slurp. His acting wasn't bad, either. I could've been quite happy with him remaining as the lead bad guy and Cobra Commander blowing himself up.

Scarlett's civilian garb whilst in Paris: Perfect. Can we have more of this, please? Rachel Nichols is a gorgeous woman and probably not a bad actor. When she was in a sleek tan leather jacket and jeans she looked fabulous. There was no reason to tart her up.

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