'G.I. Joe' assaulted by first wave of bad reviews
"G.I. Joe" opens today to lots of hype but little in the way of substantive reviews. Mainstream critics were kept from advance screenings of "G.I. Joe." Instead Paramount chose to show "G.I. Joe" to reviewers more likely to find favor with this slam-bang shoot-em-up. Even so, the overall score of the 61 reviews for "G.I. Joe" at Rotten Tomatoes sits at just 39 today.
The average score of the five critics from the cream of the crop at Rotten Tomatoes who have managed to see the movie is just 20. And the reviews at Meta Critic average out to only 29 with the decent review from Variety skewing those results upward. Those numbers will shift as more top-tier critics weigh in on this $175-million movie. Most studio pictures are rated by at least three dozen reviewers on these aggregating sites.
Among those critics who have seen the film, the most dismissive was Kyle Smith of the New York Post. In his half star review, he sums up the plot as, "Formerly a real American hero, G.I. Joe is no longer a hero (it's a group) or American. (It's a multinational team of military superstars, though the way it does business, you'd feel safer with the Croatian navy on your side.)"
Richard Corliss of Time thought, "Director Stephen Sommers, who did the 'Mummy' trilogy, has no skill with actors and little more with the manipulation of real and virtual hardware. We know the theme will be 'War is swell,' but the film plays like a long slog in the Big Muddy." And Peter Howell of the Toronto Star said, "It is possible that never before in the annals of cinema has so much destruction been depicted on screen to so little purpose, unless you count brain or ear damage. Neither the clumsy good guys – 'the Joes' as they're risibly called – nor the clownish bad guys seem to have a clue as to what they're doing, apart from blowing up as many objects and people as possible."
Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal did not even wait to see "G.I. Joe" before writing his review. As he notes, "Paramount has spared me the pain of sitting through another military-toy epic (the recent 'Transformers' sequel having been a near-death experience), and the studio has set me free to reach my own conclusions — not quite groundless but close — on the basis of the 'G.I. Joe' trailer."
We will know Monday if this strategy of hide-and-seek worked for "G.I. Joe." The studio has been marketing the movie to Middle America with multiple mall promotions. And Paramount premiered "G.I. Joe" last Friday far from the usual red carpets of Hollywood and Gotham. Instead, it unspooled the picture at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland before a crowd of almost 1,000 military personnel and their families. Stars Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller and Marlon Wayans waved the flag for the film.
Perhaps producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura learned a lesson from his experience with "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." That sequel opened in late June to savage reviews but has grossed almost $400 million domestically since then.