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Stephen Sommers
Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller
Writing Credits:
Stuart Beattie, David Elliot, Paul Lovett

An elite military unit comprised of special operatives known as GI Joe takes on an evil organization led by a notorious arms dealer.

Box Office:
$175 million.
Opening Weekend
$54,713,046 on 4007 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Dolby Vision
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Audio Description
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Latin Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
German Dolby 5.1
Italian Dolby 5.1
Japanese Dolby 5.1
Mandarin Dolby 5.1
Brazilian Portuguese Dolby 5.1
Russian Dolby 5.1
Latin Spanish
Brazilian Portuguese
Simplified Chinese
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 118 min.
Price: $30.99
Release Date: 7/20/2021

• Audio Commentary with Director Stephen Sommers and Producer/Editor Bob Ducsay
• Previews
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


GI Joe: The Rise Of Cobra [4K UHD] (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 27, 2021)

When considering the case of 2009’s GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the long-lasting toy franchise would leap to the big screen. The surprise comes from the fact it took so long.

The action figures originated in the 1960s and got added life via a new line introduced in the early 1980s. The latter received animated adaptations but nothing live-action until Cobra.

Viewing the result, I can’t say I wish Joe made the jump earlier, as Rise offers a forgettable effort. After weapons-maker James McCullen’s (Christopher Eccleston) Military Armament Research Syndicate sells four super-powered warhead to NATO, soldiers Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) lead a squad to deliver them.

They come under an attack from a mysterious team, but another group of soldiers saves the day. Duke and Ripcord soon meet General Hawk (Dennis Quaid), the leader of the GI Joe super-squad, and they convince him to let them join.

In the meantime, we find out McCullen isn’t on the up and up, as he’s the one who ordered the attempt to steal the warheads. McCullen works with an evil organization called Cobra, and they churn out super-soldiers created by the disfigured Doctor (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), one of a few characters with a connection to Duke’s past.

In addition, his ex-fiancée Ana (Sienna Miller) now goes by “The Baroness” and leads the Cobra soldiers. The Joes need to protect the warheads and defeat Cobra.

Back in 1999, I thought director Stephen Sommers delivered a fun update on the Mummy franchise, but his subsequent works have done less for me. The 2001 sequel was decent but not as good as the first flick, and 2004’s Van Helsing was essentially a dud.

Sommers went five years between directorial efforts before he came back for Rise, but he didn’t bring any cinematic inspiration with him. Indeed, Sommers continues to get worse as he goes along, for Rise can’t even achieve the mediocrity of Van Helsing.

Like that film, Rise comes light on coherent story and heavy on CG mayhem. While the effects have gotten better over the years, I still don’t think they’re very good.

Sommers’ movies have always been subpar in terms of their computer elements, and Rise continues that trend. Admittedly, they’re not awful, but they lack the quality we’d expect from a 2009 release and can distract.

Even without those flaws, Rise wouldn’t work. For one, it’s too darned complicated.

Granted, I realize “origin stories” like this can become burdensome, as they need to introduce so many different characters/scenarios. It’s not unusual for efforts like this to become a bit bogged down in exposition.

Nonetheless, Rise goes crazy in that regard. It includes enough characters and backstories to fit a 10-hour miniseries, so one two-hour film can’t hope to spell them out well. Instead, it leaves each and every one barely explored, which hurts it in the long run.

No, I don’t expect rich characters from a summer action blockbuster like this, but the sheer number of participants creates a real problem. We barely know anyone – and never care about them.

Why throw out so many roles? To sell toys, I suspect. Of course, I understand that commerce drives Rise, so no one makes a movie based on a line of action figures with art in mind.

Nonetheless, Rise could make its motives less obvious. It constantly gives us the impression that the toy-oriented cart drove this particular cart.

The actors are fine in their parts, I guess. None of them excel, but at least they manage to avoid seeming embarrassed. They’re cartoony and campy, just as one would anticipate.

As for the action, it tends to be a mess. Sommers apparently believes “big and chaotic” is always the way to go, so we get scenes without much coherence or impact.

He throws out massive amounts of CG gewgaws and doesn’t worry about real excitement or power. The movie consists of one lackluster action sequence after another.

While I suspect I shouldn’t have expected much from Rise, I still view it as a disappointment. I’m a sucker for action flicks and think the GI Joe universe has potential to create a good movie franchise. Unfortunately, Rise launches the series with a thud.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio A-/ Bonus C+

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Though not stellar, this was a generally solid Dolby Vision presentation.

Sharpness seemed good. A few wide shots could be a little soft, but those occurred infrequently and created minor distractions. The majority of the flick demonstrated nice accuracy.

I noticed no issues with shimmering or jagged edges, and edge haloes remained absent. I saw a couple of small specks here but nothing more in terms of print flaws.

Like most modern movies, teal and orange dominated the palette. Cliché as they may be, these came across fine, as the 4K represented them as intended. HDR added range and impact to the hues.

Blacks looked dark and dense, and shadows were good. A few low-light shots could be a smidgen opaque – mainly due to day for night photography - but that was another minor complaint.

HDR gave whites and contrast extra depth and emphasis. Overall, the movie looked positive.

I also felt impressed with the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. As expected from an action movie like this, the soundscape provided a frequent assault on the ears.

This was most obvious during the battle sequences, of course, as those used all five speakers to form an engrossing sense of place. Bullets zipped around the room, various vehicles moved cleanly and blasts exploded into our faces.

Quieter scenes delivered a nice sense of ambience, but the louder sequences brought the best punch and created a sensational soundscape.

In addition, the mix boasted good audio quality. Music was rich and full, with crisp highs and taut lows. Effects followed suit, as the various military elements delivered strong and accurate reproduction, with some bold bass response.

Speech was also concise and crisp throughout the film. This turned into a well-executed soundtrack.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? Both came with identical DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtracks.

As for the 4K’s Dolby Vision image, it seemed a little better defined and offered superior colors, blacks and range. Because the film was finished at 2K, this upscaled presentation didn’t come with the kind of step up one might desire, but the 4K still turned into the more appealing version.

The only negative came from the minor print flaws, as those didn’t appear on the Blu-ray. However, those fell into “blink and you’ll miss them” territory, so the 4K remained the superior option.

The 4K UHD comes with only one extra: an audio commentary from director Stephen Sommers and producer/editor Bob Ducsay. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at adapting the toy/comic book franchise, story/character/script topics, sets and locations, stunts and action, cast and performances, various effects, props and vehicles, and other areas.

Sommers and Ducsay have paired for many prior commentaries, and that comfort level comes through here. They cover the film in a brisk manner while they touch on virtually all the necessary subjects. We find a delightful, useful chat.

The set also provides Blu-ray copy of Rise. That disc opens with ads for The Last Airbender, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Star Trek (2009), GI Joe: Resolute and Monsters Vs. Aliens. No trailer for Rise appears here.

Note that the Rise Blu-ray came in two flavors in 2009. Paramount distributed a single-disc version as well as one that included a bonus DVD.

The latter didn’t seem packed with supplements, but it came with a few tidbits. It’s too bad this doesn’t become the definitive Rise via the inclusion of those materials.

2009’s GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra begins the franchise in a lackluster manner. From its messy story to thin characters to iffy effects to incoherent action, the movie doesn’t achieve much across its two hours. The Blu-ray delivers good picture, great audio and an enjoyable commentary. I wanted to like Rise but couldn’t get into

To rate this film visit the prior review of GI JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA

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