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Stupid reviewers think big fun summer action movies are stupid!

Paramount won’t screen G. I. Joe for critics.

Usually, this means the movie sucks and has a built-in audience anyway, so who cares what those stupid reviewers think? This, according to the story, is an odder move, as this is the final big-time action movie of the summer. It’s not surprising based on the critical reaction to Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which apparently causes brain aneurysms to explode but is still in the top ten of highest-grossing movies of all time. So why screen G. I. Joe for critics when it’s going to get trashed anyway and will probably still make a boaload of money?

Of course, the reviewers who have seen the movie have been mostly positive (although “If I was [sic] ten years old, G. I. Joe would be one of the best movies I had ever seen” becomes less positive when you consider that most of the people who will see this movie are probably older than ten), so it’s not necessarily about avoiding negative reviews. It’s about the increasing gap between “elitism” and “egalitarianism” in this country – Paramount wants “the audience to define” G. I. Joe, which means they believe reviewers only like artsy-fartsy movies and couldn’t possibly turn their brains off long enough to appreciate the greatness of G. I. Joe and besides, those reviewers all probably hate the United States and would be scornful of the in-your-face patriotism of G. I. Joe. U! S! A!, bitches!

I don’t want to go all Roger Ebert in this post, I just wanted to point out that if this works, there’s no reason for movie studios ever to screen movies for critics anymore. Screw them all! The stupid thing about this, really, is that if a studio throws money behind a project and advertises the shit out of it, of course it will do well, at least in its first weekend. Transformers seems to have bucked that trend (although I wonder how much Megan Fox has to do with that; I guess Paramount is hoping Sienna Miller provides the same thing), but there are plenty of movies that do well in the first weekend and then drop off the map, but at least they recoup their costs.

Comics are a bit of a different animal, in that money and advance advertising don’t necessarily play a huge role. However, it’s still a pertinent theme, as Marvel and DC have something different but as insidious: a stable of characters that appeal to fanboys’ nostalgia. Stupid reviewers like me, who absolutely cannot stand crappy superhero comics (which is different from hating superhero comics, although some of my critics don’t get the distinction), get raked over the coals because I can’t see how freakin’ awesome it is that some writer is using some awesome character from the Sixties (or Seventies or, increasingly, the Eighties). Whenever I read a review of a big-time superhero comic (and they’re not hard to find), there’s usually at least one comment that either rips the reviewer for not liking the awesome character used therein or reads something like, “Well, I had to turn my brain off, but I liked it.” Heck, I turn my brain off all the time. You know when? When I’m watching television, which is largely free (or at least cheaper than my annual comics budget). If I’m paying for something, I’m certainly not going to waste my 4 dollars on shit like Ultimatum. But that’s just me.

Anyway, I just found the idea of Paramount going around the reviewers to appeal directly to the “heartland” (that’s what the article says) interesting. If I lived in Des Moines, I’d be offended that Paramount thinks I’m dumber and more blindly in love with my country than those pillow-biting socialists in New York and Los Angeles, but whatever. Maybe this strategy will put stupid anti-American reviewers out of business forever!!!!!!

77 Comments

I tend to agree with this.

If I were Paramount, I’d be hoping for the bad reviews since it mobilizes the die hards. Over at TFW 2005.com, they actually had a contest awarding some monetary amount to the person who best rebuttaled (read: trashed) Roger Ebert’s review of the Transformer’s 2 while at the same time talking up how awesome it was. I figure GI Joe nuts would be in the same boat.

My issue is the nature of ad populum (popular belief, which is what is at stake here) itself these days (not what it is in the textbooks, which is still a problem, but what it’s become due to the Internet); something is popular amongst a group, so any voice against what is popular must be silenced or discredited in some way.

This is a bad trend. It stills discussion of important issues with what is at hand due to the fear of shout down and gives power to a (in the grand scheme) small group on faulty premises (seriously, how many of us could argue but don’t argue simply because we know the blinders are on with the people/person on the otherside?). Or in this case, the belief that the entertainment in question is the greatest thing ever when it probably isn’t (see Blackest Night…sorry, couldn’t resist).

Myself, I tend to value some of the reviewers voices, and who knows, maybe they’d like it. I think it’s pretty weak by Paramount, though. It’ll make money simply because it has two ninjas in it and things blow up. That’s worth $50 million at least.

As of a couple of years ago, “Ghost Rider” was the biggest-budget movie (at $120 million) to not be screened for critics. With “G.I. Joe”s budget at $175 million, I suppose Marvel’s movie is now spared the indignity of that title.

Yay, anti-intellectualism being cynically manipulated by corporate marketers!

Two small points:

First, TV isn’t anywhere close to free. I ditched cable a couple of years ago and let me tell you the savings have been significant. I would liken it to when I quit smoking; that extra $25 in my pocket every week adds up really fast. TV’s the same, it doesn’t seem like much every month, but over time you’ll definitely notice the savings. Disregard this is you’re one of the few who gets by with rabbit ears alone, beyond the up-front cost of the TV you’re essentially paying nothing.

Second, Paramount is out of their freaking minds if they think Sienna Miller will be a draw in the same way that Megan Fox is. Megan Fox has transcended from mere eye candy into a flaming and unquenchable ball of hype so hot it could rival the sun. In cut-offs. Sienna Miller is hot and a much better actress than Megan Fox, but having her stand next to a muscle car and bend over won’t drive the fanboys to the theatres over and over again the way Megan Fox did.

I do agree with your main point though; if a studio is releasing some Michael Bay-esque explosion fest, they don’t really gain much through critical reviews. Shit, I’m living proof; I was all set to see Transformers 2 until I read the reviews which basically said it was significantly worse than the first one and borderline racist. If there hadn’t been any reviews they would have my $10 and I’d probably still be kicking myself.

If I were Paramount, I’d be hoping for the bad reviews since it mobilizes the die hards. Over at TFW 2005.com, they actually had a contest awarding some monetary amount to the person who best rebuttaled (read: trashed) Roger Ebert’s review of the Transformer’s 2 while at the same time talking up how awesome it was. I figure GI Joe nuts would be in the same boat.

The problem is, GI Joe nuts are nowhere near as mobilized behind this as Transformers nuts were. They’ve done a lot to alienate GI Joe fans. First off, they are afraid of playing up anything pro-American, they are now an international espionage outfit, for fear of sounding to patriotic or jingoistic and alienating the international community. And every leak that comes out from this movie seems to enrage them more.

I think Paramount rightly fears that the fans will side with the critics in this one (think Batman and Robin). Some movies suck even by brainless, summer popcorn flick standards.

…Paramount going around the reviewers to appeal directly to the “heartland”..

So that’s why Sarah Palin resigned, to head Paramount’s marketing division! Maveritastic!

What Mizike said.

I love Sienna Miller, but I’m not going to see this film at the theatre.

Greg, if I might take things a step further, I wonder how far away we are from studios actively hiring reviewers to give stellar reviews of their films? I seem to recall a couple of years ago Sony was caught having reviews by someone who turned out to be an employee. When do the studios just say, let’s hire people and admit they’re giving us positive reviews?

I got distracted and this post has gone off the rails.

Cheers,

B

@Brian:
That already happens, basically. While reviewers aren’t on the dole or anything, the next time you see those reviews that flash by in a half a second in a commercial, rewind and check the name and organization of the reviewer. Often you’ll see those reviewers in commercials again and again. That’s because, for many of these small-time reviewers, they can trade those credits for a higher compensation with their employers, because their bringing free publicity to them.

And that’s not even counting perks studios give to those reviewers at press junkets.

But here’s the thing about reviews and reviewers. If Tranformers showed us anything, it showed us that bad reviews don’t substantially impact attendance. By the time the movie premieres, people have decided that they’re either going or they aren’t.

What the f#c& is he ranting about? The thing that i find common about all critics is they think that there opinion is the end all be all of anything. When in fact many people like many different things. He seemed to be pissed that he wasn’t invited to the GiJoe party. So fucking what?????? His opinions mean no more than mine but i’m tired of the bitching about how unfair it is. I think honestly it should be left up to the normal viewers to decide and not have some bobble headed narcissist Decide if it is a good movie. There were things that i didn’t like in the trailers but i don’t think that a trailer is enough to Damn the whole movie.

This is the kind of movie I’m either going to see or not (not), it won’t matter what the reviews say. However I will check the reviews on something like District 9 to see if it is worth the time and money.

I really hope it is, for no reason at all I have high hopes for that movie.

I think honestly it should be left up to the normal viewers to decide and not have some bobble headed narcissist Decide if it is a good movie.

That’s why I think Rotten Tomatoes is so important: If one guy hates a movie I want to see, he’s a douchebag. When 75 guys say it sucks, you may want to listen.

There seems to be this mistaken notion that, because comic book films are not perceived the same as other films (not arty, not really intended for non-comic book audiences), then reviewers don’t need to have a look at them. But this is a faulty claim: for one, to dismiss comic book films as non-essential, or non-arty, is to say that they are immature and not worthy of higher standards. Likewise, it prevents reviewers from contemplating these sorts of films as an art form unto themselves, but more importantly it is the defensive attitude of Paramount, et al., that strikes a resonant chord with me. Do we automatically assume that comic book movies “aren’t worthy” of the same treatment of other films?

Of course they can be, but only when the producers, directors, etc., take the time to craft them that way. If the film is well-made, it will have a universal appeal, and the studio needn’t lock it away from reviewers’ prying eyes prior to opening night. A film should reach more than its built-in audience, and furthermore if a film like GI Joe is poorly made, then why watch it—just because it exists as “GI Joe”?

The purpose of critics is not to put down a film (unless it’s bad) but to point out what makes the film work and what holds it back, and to explain nuances in the film *as a film*—and because of this last element, the comic book reading community has to understand that, once it hits the big screen, GI Joe is no longer just a comic book, but a film franchise and a concept that will be squarely in the gaze of film critics. It better get used to that limelight; and, if it wants to succeed, Paramount had better learn to play nice with critics, since they ultimately make the call as to the film’s legacy. Studios are not only built on income, but reputation, and so are their films. If GI Joe is to succeed, wouldn’t it be better to make a *good* GI Joe film, one that works, rather than one that only appeals to those ten year olds? This is a lesson of its predecessor this summer, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen—a movie may have appeal in content and name recognition, but it needs to actually be a decent film as well, or people won’t come back for the next one, the film will gross less, and the franchise will end. There’s nothing wrong with having high standards in the first place—so, to use a Transformers example, the audience could do without a Transformer who is confusingly a human female, or two cars that are obvious racial stereotypes. I hope GI Joe learns that lesson. It’s the reason why there hasn’t been a Daredevil 2: audiences will put up with some b.s., but when they’re paying $20 minimum for a ticket, soda and popcorn, the studios need to offer them more than a patched-together film.

So the reviewers *are* essential to GI Joe, and Paramount should know this. By putting themselves and their movies up for judgment, they are saying that they understand the need for quality control. And most critics take into account the genre of the film and its intended audience when they write their reviews, and typically they are willing to make certain concessions. Stupid action and stupid fun is one thing, but stupid filmmaking is quite another. I like the first two, but not the last one, and I’d say reviewers generally would agree with that. It’s because of critics, and film companies who believe in quality films, that we have great comic book films like Spider-Man 2, The Dark Knight and Iron Man—prime examples of how comic book films can have broad appeal and still be well-versed in comic book lore. It’s because of film companies who don’t hold themselves to those standards that we get films like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and (one assumes) GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

Some of the above comments mention the one thing that came to my mind prominently while reading this article.
Does anyone actually listen to the critics anymore?
I, for one, never have and never will. I simply like what I like and don’t like what I don’t like.
If anything, the studios should be getting the opinions of the people who pay to see their movies and not relying on the opinions of a “chosen few” who actually get paid to watch them.

If anything, the studios should be getting the opinions of the people who pay to see their movies and not relying on the opinions of a “chosen few” who actually get paid to watch them.

Well, you get your wish, because that looks like what Paramount is doing.

The thing is, that makes no real sense. What you’re saying, in essence, is, “Let get the opinions of the people who are going to see the movie anyway.”

“Hey, Harry, who still lives in his mom’s basement, loves it! Yay for us!”

And something else… This is the age of the geek. There are literally HUNDREDS of websites out there run by movie fans, not trained journalists. But because of their passion and knowledge, they’ve established relationships with studios, they’ve gotten their credentials, and their reviews have equal weight with Roger Ebert’s in Rotten Tomatoes and Yahoo Movies. The idea that all movie reviewers are that jagoff from the NY Times is a myth. These are men and women who have built their reputations on their passions, and think Goonies is the greatest movie ever made.

So, yeah, if Paramount is afraid to screen the movie in front of THEM, that’s something to take note of.

First off, I thought this was a well thought out and funny piece.

Okay on to the opinions!

I think the job of a good critic (what Roger Ebert USED to be) is to review a movie on its own merits. This is something that most reviewers don’t do this and that’s why most reviewers suck. A.O. Scott head critic for the NY Times is the posterboy for the pretentious artsy-fartsy critic that hates everything that isn’t screened in an arthouse, ironically enough Minohla Dargis who also reviews for the Times IS able to see G-Force and review it for what it is, and understand that its not Lorna’s Silence.

As for what Paramount is doing, its tricky, this kind of ka-boom fest that G.I. Joe is expected to be may actually do well without any reviews, (although Bangkok Dangerous proved that if you’re going to do this your movie had best not suck) whereas a smaller movie would benefit from the exposure that positive reviews would give it. It’s a crap shoot and we’ll see how it plays out. I for one am curious and if it had been reviewed the only way reviews would change my mind would be if they were all unanimously bad.

Television isn’t free. You either pay for cable, satellite, or get you television entirely over the airwaves. And even over the airwaves, there are advertisers that foot the bill for the broadcast. Television isn’t free.

I’m not part of the audience for Transformers nor G. I. Joe. I never watched the cartoons, so there is no attachment to the properties.

No matter how the studio is trying to spin it, having no reviews indicates disaster.

A movie can have some dumb stuff in it and still be well reviewed and get good box office. This year’s Star Trek proves that. So did last year’s Dark Knight.

“Narcissistic bobbleheads”? “Who listens to the critics”?

Judging by the popularity of Rotten Tomatoes, everyone. And since when was having seen more movies, and knowing film criticism theory, a detriment to an opinion’s worth? If you say you liked a movie to your friends, that is a review. Roger Ebert is saying the movies he liked, except he has seen a lot of movies and probably knows more than you or I ever will about them. Welcome to 2009, where knowledge is frowned upon. Jesus.

I’m for drama as much as for summer popcorn, but when it requires you to turn your brain off in order to like it, there’s typically a problem and it’s usually with the film. I couldn’t get my brain turned off enough to delude myself into believing there was anything good about Transformers 2. That was so bad, I even got tired of looking at Megan Fox…..yet her and Shia just kept on talking and faceless decepticons who were invincible during the first part of the movie suddenly became susceptible to instant death from a rifle. Critics were right to pan this tripe.

If a film disappoints when there is no expectation, it’s bad. I get that marketing doesn’t want a bad review to alienate potential viewers. However, not showing it for reviews says to me that even Paramount might be a little embarassed about this, and doesn’t want people showing up skeptical.

The article referred to Ghost Rider being another expensive movie not being screened for reviewers. We know how that one turned out.

Dewayne — Most good reviewers don’t think their opinion is the end all, be all of opinions on a work, but reviewers are tasked with providing THEIR opinion, which readers then use as a possible guide as to check out a work or not. That’s all reviews are: guides for readers. The main goal of a review is to let the reader know if it’s worth the time and/or money involved, and why said reviewer thinks so. Now, beyond that, you have to take into account that reviewers are also trying to craft well-written pieces and are confident in their opinions, so it may come off as THIS IS THE OBJECTIVE TRUTH as a result. Some mean it that, most are just doing what they’re paid to do.

Very well said, Mr. Wesley.

Well, I did qualify that television isn’t free, but it’s still a hell of a lot cheaper than a lot of stuff. Put it this way: I spend about as much on comics in a week as I do on television in a month, and I get a ton more selection from television. I can easily flip on “The Bill Engvall Show” and watch it for 15 minutes and not feel like I’ve wasted any money (of course, based on the commercials, I would never do something that stupid and I think my brain would start leaking out of my ears, but the point remains). I can’t do that with movies or comics.

And as I’ve pointed out many times here, my job is not to get you to buy or not buy anything. My job, as I see it, is to introduce you to stuff you might have missed. I’ve learned a lot about different comics from reviewers, and I hope I’ve done the same to readers. That’s all I’m trying to do. With the case of G. I. Joe, I guess Paramount figures everyone already knows about it, so who cares what reviewers say? More power to them!

This article in the LA Times goes into even more detail, including some really depressing comments from Larry Hama at the end. Really, what the marketing plan for this movie signals to me is:

1. Paramount is worried that they lost the hardcore G.I. Joe fans.
2. The fact that they lost a lot of the hardcore fans by changing or getting rid of a bunch of things that the hardcore fans expect in a movie called “G.I. Joe” does not seem to have occurred to them.
3. Paramount wants it both ways — let’s wave the old Red White and Blue for…uh, an international team of soldiers. But it’s TOTALLY patriotic!
4. There are enough critics out there now in the geek press willing to give a positive review to nearly anything. If this marketing succeeds, then it doesn’t mean they won’t screen for critics ever again. Come December, Paramount and all the other studios are going to depend on those arty-farty critics that will say wonderful things about those movies.
5. If you don’t screen the movie at Nerd Prom, it’s not because you’re “never going to win with those guys.” Iron Man won with “those guys” just fine. It’s because you know that their negative reviews are going to kill the buzz faster than any number of critics.
6. Critics have never really mattered for a movie’s box office.

At best, “G.I. Joe” looks like it’ll be a genial, derivative mess of an action movie, just like “The Mummy.” However, to my eyes, the best things about it seem to be the way Rachel Nichols fills out her suit as Scarlett, and the perfect casting of Ray Park as Snake Eyes.

I never care what reviewers say. If I want to see a movie I’ll see it. As a kid I loved Transformers and could take or leave GI Joe. I was excited for the first Transformers before its release, and ended up not enjoying it at all. The second one didn’t look any better, so I skipped it. I was initially very skeptical about this GI Joe film, but honestly, the more I see from it the more excited I get . It looks like a lot more fun than Transformers. Maybe it’s because I’m not as vested in the original as I was for Transformers. Anyway, I don’t care what the reviewers say, I want to see GI Joe (and I grew up in the “heartland”).

I don’t really understand all the disdain I see floating around the internet towards film critics (especially Roger Ebert, who whether you agree with him or not, is both an insightful and gifted writer). Personally, I always seek out film reviews, most of them AFTER I’ve seen the movie, if for nothing else than that I enjoy seeing other perspectives. Sometimes you agree with them, sometimes you don’t, and sometimes they even get you to reconsider some of your own feelings towards the film in question.

I think some people forget that just because not everyone likes what you like, doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to like it. The opposite is also true, just because you like something, doesn’t mean everyone else in the world is obligated to like it too.

I guess that was really more a response to some of the comments here, than the article itself. Personally, regardless of critical reception, I have always had zero intention of seeing the GI Joe movie. Judging by the trailers, it just looks really boring and run-of-the mill. I think Paramount’s major mistake was opting for the cliche action movie all-black costumes, instead of just dressing the characters exactly how they were in the old comics/cartoons. Would it have been incredibly silly? Absolutely. Would I have rushed out to see it? You bet your ass.

Rascal66…Amen!

As for the folks who are bashing Ebert, if you were to read his reviews over a decent period of time, you would discover that he has probably the most eclectic taste in movies of any of the old-school reviewers. The man gave Knowing two thumbs up, for crying out loud.

Bad reviews can’t hurt a movie like GIJoe. But they can help it.

I had zero interest in seeing Transformers2, but after reading so many reviews that told me how amazingly bad it was, I know I’ll have to see it.

I had hoped playing the ” Support Our Troops ” card would go out of fashion once the GOP crashed and burned, but when Paramount’s PR people are going on about the reception of the movie on army bases, I realize that was a naive dream. At least they haven’t added a yellow ribbon to the back of Snake Eyes’ uniform…

“I just wanted to point out that if this works, there’s no reason for movie studios ever to screen movies for critics anymore.”

In the case of blockbusters, that’s probably true. In the case of dramas/foreign/indie/arthouse movies, I would say it’s not. I think smaller films would be ignored without critical push. The tomatometer is pretty much GOD to my discerning tastes though I disagree with it on occasion [cough] The Dark Knight [cough]. And I never see a movie opening day unless somehow it’s free. I went to see Up and Star Trek this summer and that was mostly because they got good reviews. I’d be interested in GI JOE but only if the general consensus is that it’s good.

I confess that I have some gripes with reviewers of any kind. As an example, when Timothy Callahan of this very site said X-Factor was a bad comic, he used a baseball analogy to say it wasn’t just his personal taste, because writing is a skill that can be measured, just like playing baseball is a skill that also can be measured.

But the way I see it, the rules of baseball are more or less clear, and teams win and lose. But you can’t just define whether a comic book (or movie, or novel) is a “win,” without interjecting extremely personal and subjective oppinions. That seems rather obvious to me, but i’m not sure it’s obvious to many reviewers. I don’t value the oppinion of a reviewer any more than I value the oppinion of a friend of mine that is more or less intelligent and informed.

Still, I don’t dislike reviewers. They’re still useful. I can read a review and try to gleam whether I’ll like a movie or not, regardless of the value judgments of the reviewer. Particularly for reviewers that I read frequently.

@ Nitz the Bloody:

“Support Our Troops” will not go out of style while military spending is over 4% of U.S. GDP. There is quite simply too much money in it.

I’d say there’s an even more apparent clue as to the movie’s quality given that it’s being released midway through August, where it won’t be in competition with other would-be blockbusters. Critical response and nationalism aside, that says a lot about how well the market (and the market analysts at Paramount) think the movie will do.

@Dean

It actually has nothing to do with military spending. People by and large love the military because they protect us without preconditions and without expectation of gratitude. They also exemplify bravery, courage, and strength. Those qualities offer to believe in more than academic ideals such as veganism, moral equivalence, and internationalism.

“European marketing, rather, focuses on action sequences set in Paris — where the Eiffel Tower collapses — Egypt and Tokyo, and emphasizes that G.I. Joe is an international team of crack operatives and not some Yankee soldier.”

Get it? GI Joe is not an American soldier.

I think that says all that needs to be said about Paramount.

I agree with The Mutt. Bad reviews will slide off G.I. Joe, as though it were made of teflon.

There is a bit of gamble. If critics embrace it, it could draw in lots of non-comic book fans, like I think might have happened with Iron Man, previously not so well known outside of comic book readers.

So, positive reviews can possibly help a movie like G.I. Joe more than bad reviews can hurt it. A mistake might have been made in this respect with the denial of critic screenings. Regardless, I’m sure it will do ridiculously well.

I’m sure there was lots of sarcasm employed, but man I reserve the right to hate the crap out of a movie that’s gung-ho about American military power and not be accused of Anti-Americanism. Surely, a movie can be be both good and bad regardless of this. Does insufferable bloat or failure to tell a great story not count? I love a good war or action movie… and if the heroes are go get ‘em Americans, so be it, as long as the story holds my interest. Not elitism or anti-Americanism… just one always hoping for a great story to shine though all the rest. Without that you don’t have much more than a lot of sound and fury… which is truly awesome, only so long as it doesn’t numb.

It’s funny some of the early reviews for GI Joe aren’t that bad. And a lot of them are from people who HATED Transformer 2.

@Grant:

Yeah, but it doesn’t matter what they thought of Transformers. The point is that everyone who has seen GI Joe so far was HAND-PICKED, by Paramount, to see it. The implication is that Paramount thinks they were predisposed to like the movie.

@ Raskal66:

If they protect us without “preconditions or expectation of gratitude”, then does that mean I can keep the 7% of my paycheck that goes to their upkeep and equipment?

I am hardly a tofu eating academic, but I am sick of people telling me to “support our troops” when I already do in a very material way.

“I think that says all that needs to be said about Paramount.”

They understand that different markets require different marketing strategies?

Rohan Williams

August 4, 2009 at 6:50 pm

Negative reviews can’t really hurt a movie like G.I. Joe, true, but positive reviews could help it. And critical opinion will always be important, because if your movie’s not a blockbuster with a big marketing budget, that’s how people hear about it in the first place. Why do you think the indie studios were freaking out so hard when screener copies got banned a few years back?

@Michael P.:

They understand that different markets require different marketing strategies?

Earth. Earth is their market. This is being released everywhere. Paramount wants every person with access to a a projector to have access to this movie. But they’re not letting anybody see it before the release date, so the only information and opinion potential viewers will have to access to before Friday is only that which Paramount wants them to see.

That’s the theory, anyway. I don’t know when not having preview screenings has ever been a successful strategy. Does anyone else know? Has not previewing a movie ever worked?

@Micheal P.: I’m soon to enter third year History in university. I have plans to pursue a law career. I discuss philosophy with my friends. I am about as intellectual as you can get. But damnit I still like to watch things blow up or otherwise get smashed! I enjoy things like Starman or The Departed, but I also enjoy Loeb’s Hulk or Transformers. Not everything has to have some deep intellectual significance to be enjoyable. The critics forget that.

Dalarsco:

But the critics don’t. forget it. Some, for the major New York and Los Angeles papers, may still be pompous jerks, but the vast majority of the reviewers I’ve encountered for papers between the coasts and all of them that came up through the internet are movie fans first. I think they sincerely want a movie to succeed.

And many action films get rave reviews. Star Trek is one that I can come up with off the top of my head. If you look on RottenTomatoes.com right now, GI Joe has a 90% aggregate score from reviewers (that Paramount has hand-chosen, but still).

The idea that in 2009 a movie reviewer is some stuffy twit in a tweed jacket with patches on the elbows and a Master’s degree from Yale where he wrote his dissertation on the use of profanity as commentary for the class struggle between races in “A Fish Called Wanda” is simply not accurate anymore. It’s a myth.

Sorry, this is just something that bothers me. Too often when somebody says that reviewers are out of touch, I find out that they haven’t actually read/heard/seen a review in ten years, and can’t articulate what it is about any specific review or reviewer that they object to. Sorry if that’s the case here.

Knowledge = narcissism! Brains = bobbleheads! Faith = science! Government = socialism! Invasion = self-defense! And so we return to the year 1984.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

August 4, 2009 at 9:56 pm

It must be an anti-elistism statement, because if they didn’t want people pre-judging the film and thinking it’s utter, utter shite, they wouldn’t have released those trailers.

(I think they made it an international unit, because they didn’t want to piss Americans off by making y’all look like a bunch of plastic armoured simpletons).

and Megan Fox is pretty bland.

The critics forget that.

Rubbish.
Go look on Rotten Tomatoes, especially the ‘Top Critics’ section – good action films still get good reviews, it’s just bad one’s that don’t.
The difference I think you’ll find is – Critics have to see EVERY action film – they’ve seen more than you, so it takes more than just ‘shit blowing up’ to get a rise, it’s gotta be ‘awesome shit blowing up’.

“Yeah, but it doesn’t matter what they thought of Transformers. The point is that everyone who has seen GI Joe so far was HAND-PICKED, by Paramount, to see it. The implication is that Paramount thinks they were predisposed to like the movie.”

Here’s a good article from Devin from Chud who was one of the guys who has seen it.

http://chud.com/articles/articles/20359/1/THE-DEVIN039S-ADVOCATE-NO-JOE—THE-GI-JOE-SCREENING-KERFUFFLE/Page1.html

Bernard the Poet

August 5, 2009 at 1:22 am

Make no mistake, there is only one reason why Paramount are not showing GI Joe to the critics. They don’t think it is very good.

I had hoped playing the ” Support Our Troops ” card would go out of fashion once the GOP crashed and burned, but when Paramount’s PR people are going on about the reception of the movie on army bases, I realize that was a naive dream. At least they haven’t added a yellow ribbon to the back of Snake Eyes’ uniform…

“Support Our Troops” will go away the moment we live in a world where our very freedom doesn’t depend on their existence. The collapse or rise of the GOP won’t change that. Foreign invaders don’t stay away out of the goodness of their hearts you know.

I resent the idea that people don’t like reviews because of some sense of anti-elitism. I would probably get pegged with the elitist tag, but you know what? I don’t like reviews. I don’t need someone else’s opinion to help me decide what to and what not to see. When my opinion doesn’t really sync with most people’s to start off, exactly how helpful can doing that be?

BTW…there ARE people who believe their opinion is “objective” rather than “subjective”, which would indeed lead one to believe those reviewers would have to think their opinion is the be all end all, since they don’t feel their review is merely one person’s opinion to begin with.

I realize that this is one of the reasons these movies become successful, but, as a long time, “hardcore fan”, I feel like I gotta see this one to see just what they’ve done with the property. While I expect to not like it, I’m still hoping I will, and don’t want to miss that opportunity.

Personally, I think Paramount was really overestimating the supposed dislike of having american soldiers starring in a movie. Having it be some jingoistic, “Rah rah, America defeats foreigners again” kind of movie would have been a mistake, but I think that’s true in any climate. Just having them actually BE american soldiers without it being the point of the movie would’ve been fine. Both Transformers flicks included american soldiers. Plus, it’s not like Cobra is some religious or nationalist group that some foreigners would sympathize with. I just don’t like beating people over the head with the international aspect would be good. I’m not sure if these movie does so.

At the very least having “G.I. Joe” not being American is almost insulting to the WW2 soldiers that were given that nickname.

Of course, if they’ve actually made a GOOD movie, I could forgive almost anything.

Oh, also… TF2 made insane amounts of money despite lots of terrible reviews, didn’t it? Though I suppose Paramount wants to see if it can do even better with no reviews. The dozen or so over at RottenTomatoes not withstanding.

Foreign invaders don’t stay away out of the goodness of their hearts you know.

Can you honestly remember the last time the US was invaded?!?!? 1812, perhaps??

Anyway. As to the internationalisation of G.I. Joe, it has been like that since the onset. Here in the UK, we had Action Man, and that gave us in the 80s Action Force – Who fought Baron Ironblood and the Red Shadows.

Action Force were an international, UN-led peacekeeping force, of whom G.I. Joe were the American branch…

Destro was originally a HYAENA commander (which was later rebrnaded as a HISS tank, once the Red Shadows became COBRA)

I presume a lot of it was to do with toy companies merging (Hasbro and Palitoy), and I’m not 100% certain of my facts, as I was under 10 years old at the time, but to those of us who lived outside the US, the brand was Action Force. The enemy was still COBRA.

I got a long history lesson for ya…

Palitoy started Action Force as a separate property entirely, but often used molds from Hasbro’s G.I. Joe toys in the line. It started out as a few, and then the whole line were repaints of Joes. Eventually — maybe by 1985 or so — Action Force basically became repackaged G.I. Joe toys using the same names. In the original Action Force comics, the villain Baron Ironblood BECAME Cobra Commander and replaced his Red Shadows with Cobra. Later on, a new series was started by Marvel UK, patterned after the characters of G.I. Joe, mixing in reprints of the American Joe series. Filecards would say that Flint was from Belgium or things like that. It was at this point, the UK comics began referring to G.I. Joe as an American branch of Action Force. Those two universes really remained separate, though. So it was kind of that Action Force turned into G.I. Joe. The U.S. G.I. Joe did occasionally throw in a foreign guy, but were an American unit.

And, I don’t say this to start any kind of trouble, but the 9/11 folks could be considered foreign invaders of a sort. But yes, technically, I believe the last time an actual foreign army invaded the continental US was the British in the War of 1812. Of course, Hawaii was American territory when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.

But nevermind all that. My main point is, I don’t think they needed to go out of their way to make them international. Hell, you coulda just not mentioned specifically which country they were from and let some creative redubbing take place…

@Ethan Shuster:

“I realize that this is one of the reasons these movies become successful, but, as a long time, “hardcore fan”, I feel like I gotta see this one to see just what they’ve done with the property.”

I feel that way too, but won’t be paying first run theater dollars to find out. Please let me know how it was. If I’ve waited this long to get the live action Hollywood film treatment that IMHO does a tragic hatchet job to the way that I and many others know these characters, then I can definitely wait another couple months for it to come on DVD.

G.I. joe may have a historical internationalist root in Action Force, but most people who I perceive to be checking this out are firmly rooted in the 1982 G.I. Joe continuity, which was by far it’s most successful. It is nostalgia and fandom for that G.I.oe that got this movie greenlit, regardless of any spin the studio may put out. While one could make an argument about openmindedness, a generation thinks of G.I. Joe as the “Real American Hero.” If Paramount wanted an internationalist force, why not make an Action Force movie?

@Ethan Shuster

The second paragraph was a response to Blackjack.

I agree with SageShini,

Why drag politics into this? Disliking the arrogance of critics has nothing to do with any political position. You guys ever read the movie reviews in conservative/religious sites? They aren’t any less arrogant than the “liberal mainstream media” critics. The know-it-all, my-oppinion-is-natural-law stance is not dependant on any socio-political position.

The know-it-all, my-oppinion-is-natural-law stance is not dependant on any socio-political position.

But neither is it dependant on a job title. Or haven’t you read the responses to the most recent Comic Critics about Cry for Justice, or any post where Jeph Loeb’s name comes up? There are just as many “my opinion is the only opinion that matters” people in this community at CBR as there in any organization. Why single out reviewers? Is it because they have one of the coolest jobs on the planet?

I watched this movie tonight. As a fan of the original cartoons and comic books this was really a fun movie. You can forgive the black suits, the drop of “Real American Hero”, and the romance between Ripcord and Scarlett. Sommers did O.K. with a plot that progresses with his usual expediency. I’m glad I stayed away from Transformers 2, because nothing I’ve read reveals any homage to stuff I enjoyed in the 80’s. This movie, G.I.Joe, isn’t crass and there’s no need for blatant sexuality just to make it exciting. The military is pretty capablew with what they have while the enemy is damn formidable for a group that’s not yet Cobra. But overall, this movie can be enjoyed by all ages and you can still not be picky about the plot hole and pseudo-science.

8/10

@Ethan Shuster: Thank You! I wasn’t sure if Baron Ironblood became Cobra Commander or if there were some kind of coup… After all Wild Weasel and Destro (and the Baroness?) were definitely old school Red Shadows… I thought it had something to do with the Palitoy/Hasbro merger takeover, but hey, I was 10-12 years old…

That would also explain a lot of the confusion I had with certain characters “Countries of Origin” on their datacards…

@Raskal66: That was actually what I thought they were going to do… Label it “G.I. Joe” in the US, “Action Force” internationally… Been done before…

I guess, not being American, I just prefer the idea of an International UN-sanctioned team fighting global terrorism… Oh, and I also thought the Red Shadows were far more scary than the Cobra troopers… :-)

I’m now going to dig out my old Action Force Marvel UK comics, my Battle/Action Force weeklies and my Marvel G.I. Joe comics!

Aaaah! Nostalgia!

:-)

Most of the critics I know, including myself (unpaid, but nonetheless…) aren’t elitist snobs who would dismiss “G.I. Joe” because it isn’t “8 1/2″. I watched the cartoon back in the day, I enjoyed it, and believe me, there’s not a lot of depth to mine, even for Stephen Sommers, the man who unleashed “Van Helsing” on a helpless, unsuspecting populace- and that was a film I was very much excited to see- right up till the point where it held a gun to my head and sent a bullet of awful deep into my brain.

As has been pointed out, its the critic’s job to tell you why they liked or disliked the film, and whether or not they feel its worth your time and money. The good reviewers out there will go a step further and tell you exactly why the movie worked or did not work, citing examples from similar films in the genre or techniques used in by other filmmakers. Sure, it can be fun to eviscerate a piece of crap, but trust me, its much more enjoyable to actually see a good movie. Its not about being a snob, though you’ll find enough of those in any circle- fanboys certainly not excluded.

No critic that wants to be taken seriously is going to go into the theater ready to loathe the film. Sure, they might be suspicious based on past works by a particular director or might not be a fan of the subject matter, but their responsibility is to keep an open mind and give their impressions, backed with arguments if they didn’t agree with what they saw.

I wouldn’t particularly care if Paramount denied critics a screening, but here’s the thing- they certainly don’t keep it balanced, cherry picking the positive quotes they want in their advertising, oftentimes relying on quote whores in the industry who never have a bad thing to say about any film, provided it means a nice hotel and screening or for some truly pathetic individuals, seeing their name in print. Some of the big studios want to have it both ways in this fashion, so you can’t expect the critical community to sit back and not say a word about that particular disparity.

I have to confess a lot of times I’m disappointed with the fanboys, whether I’m one of them in the property involved or not; if they love the property so much, wouldn’t they fight to see that it gets an appropriately spectacular treatment rather than dully nodding to whatever is offered them? Why is a bad review such an egregious insult? Are they making money off the film? Do they have a vested interest beyond finally having approbation that something they like is getting the spotlight?

Can you honestly remember the last time the US was invaded?!?!? 1812, perhaps??

My point exactly. If we didn’t have a standing military protecting us, it would happen much more often and much more recently. By pointing out how long ago it was since the last time we were invaded, you highlight how effective our military is at prevention and why they’re worth appreciating.

In all of this talk about our standing army keeping liberal elitist critics from invading or whatever this comments has become about, the phrase “narcissistic bobbleheads” stands out the most. Because there’s nothing worse than a self absorbed collectible. That, and I still want to watch GI Joe in spite of its apparent shit status, but that’s another can of worms entirely.

“…GI Joe has a 90% aggregate score from…”

…from Harry Knowles.
______________________

Doesn’t Joe in this movie stand for Joint Operations – Europe?

And isn’t this movie suggesting that the US Armed Forces should be under the control of the United Nations?

>As has been pointed out, its the critic’s job to tell you why they liked or disliked the film, and whether or not they feel its worth your time and money.

No, it´s not. And I guess a lot of the confusion and problem comes from this.

A critic´s job is to analyze critically the movie, trying to figure out what are his aestethics options, how they interact between itselves, and what can be concluded from that in regarding the social-cultural context of the society that made the movie. Giving a judgement of value is not part of the job. Obviously, critics have their preferences, but a good critic is able to study any work of art. I, personally, recognize and can dissert about the amazing characteristics of a lot of films that would not care about, if making and watching movies wasn´t part of my job.

Problem is, we live in a society where the ethos of “consumerism” is widespread. People pay money for the newspaper, and they seem to think they should receive something very useful back. They are not interested in musings about the blockbuster specific aesthetics, or how “G.I. Joe” plot structure is yet another example of how Holywood industry became dependant of extradiegetic narratives to sustain its bussiness model. They want to know if the critic liked or disliked the film, and wether or not its worth its time or money. And truth is, this is an unfair question to ask. Critics are humans: they like some stuff, they dislike others, mostly because of deep personal preferences and very diverse life experiences. And a question such as this is posed to them, they can only give a subjective answer. And that´s not because they don´t have objective knowledge: they do. But the public is not interested in it.

And them, we arrive at the fundamental problem. Critics usually don´t like blockbusters, mainly because blockbusters are aimed to an audience far younger, far less reflective than them (what´s perfectly fair). Critics could, however, say some very insightful things about blockbusters (as Thomas Schatz did in his works: I recommend!). But the public is only interested in hearing if the critics liked it or not. And when they say “Well, actually…” , public blame them for giving a “subjective”, “artsy” opinion.

If you want to know more about movies, you should read movie criticism. If you just want to know if it´s a good move to spend a few sweaty bucks in the newest flick opening this week, you should ask a friend from the same demographic as you. No critic can tell you what you will like: believe me, if there were a way to make such an failproof prediction, Holywood´s financial situation would be much less dire than it is today…

If we didn’t have a standing military protecting us, it would happen much more often and much more recently.

Geography has done more to protect the US than its military. At least until we and Mexico decide to get our shit together.

knivesinwest11

August 5, 2009 at 9:51 pm

the critics loved Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Shit.

>My point exactly. If we didn’t have a standing military protecting us, it would happen much more often and much more recently. By pointing out how long ago it was since the last time we were invaded, you highlight how effective our military is at prevention and why they’re worth appreciating.

And, that´s also untrue.

United Stares suffered from very few invasions, none of wich in it´s mainland because of two well-know variants of military strategy: size and location. US is just too big and too far away from its enemies to be properly invaded. No army in the world has or ever had enough manpower and equipament to sustain an invasion force against a country of continental size, that´s surrounded by water in most of its borders.

I mean, think at the trouble that US itself has in securing Iraq. Now think about the toil it would be to secure 25 Iraqs at the same time. That´s the United States size, for ya.

Nothing against giving appreciation for your troops, they sure try very hard to protect the US, and I guess they should be complimented. But, realistically, if another nation wanted to attack the US, it won´t be the bravery and valor of your soldiers that are going to save the motherland: Europe´s history is full of very brave, very commited, very effective cadavers under their earth.

It´s more the sheer difficulty of the task that keeps enemies at bay. And, of course, those big, sexy, atom bombs.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

August 5, 2009 at 10:05 pm

“Support Our Troops” will go away the moment we live in a world where our very freedom doesn’t depend on their existence.

Really man, who is trying to enslave you?
No one cares about your freedom.

The collapse or rise of the GOP won’t change that. Foreign invaders don’t stay away out of the goodness of their hearts you know.

Who the heck has ever tried to invade you – even before you had a really big army, no one was trying.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

August 5, 2009 at 10:11 pm

Sorry T, missed that it had already been addressed…

My point exactly. If we didn’t have a standing military protecting us, it would happen much more often and much more recently. By pointing out how long ago it was since the last time we were invaded, you highlight how effective our military is at prevention and why they’re worth appreciating.

Who have they ever stood against trying to invade you?
The last military attack was Pearl Harbour, and they pulled that off without a hitch, the end result being the US ended up joining a war that the President had already wanted to join, he just didn’t have the support to do it.
(Man that Japanese General must have been well popular).
And the eventual victory was done by calling a nation wide draft and forcing a mass expansion of the army – which the fella who had wanted it said should be made smaller after that war.

At the very least having “G.I. Joe” not being American is almost insulting to the WW2 soldiers that were given that nickname.

What about to the soldiers of other countries whose modern fictional action figure counterparts are fighting under a sepo nickname rather than their nickname their countries have for their troops?

It really gets my goat when the trivialization and commodification of war is done in a manner that is disrespectful to veterans.

Thank you, layne, Felipe and Funky.

I really didn’t want to rise to that one, and you all retorted far better than I could.

@Felipe:

A critic´s job is to analyze critically the movie, trying to figure out what are his aestethics options, how they interact between itselves, and what can be concluded from that in regarding the social-cultural context of the society that made the movie.

That is part of a very well articulated response. It’s also fundamentally incomplete. I hate to cite Wikipedia for something like this, but it was the best definition for ‘film criticism’ I could find quickly on the internet:

Film criticism is the analysis and evaluation of films, individually and collectively. In general, this can be divided into journalistic criticism that appears regularly in newspapers, and other popular, mass-media outlets and academic criticism by film scholars that is informed by film theory and published in journals.

So, while, technically, ‘film criticism’ considering the aesthetics and the implications of a film, most people consider the terms ‘movie reviewer’ and ‘film critic’ to be interchangeable. And I would say 90% of the people who get paid to share their general opinions about a movie would consider themselves critics.

>That is part of a very well articulated response. It’s also fundamentally incomplete. [..] while, technically, ‘film criticism’ considering the aesthetics and the implications of a film, most people consider the terms ‘movie reviewer’ and ‘film critic’ to be interchangeable. And I would say 90% of the people who get paid to share their general opinions about a movie would consider themselves critics.

You´re completely right, Wesley. That´s something I overlooked in my later reply. But, to make things clearer, my point is: despite the general opinion, “movie reviewers” and “film critics” are two distinct beasts. And any review of a movie that doesn´t come from an analytical, intellectual standpoint is by its very nature strictly subjective and personal, and has a very limited scope or value.

(BTW, I´m not saying, however, that academic film criticism is deprived of subjectiveness. There´s no such thing as a perfectly neutral point of view when we´re dealing with art. But there´s a big difference between criticism that´s done to better understand the movie artform, its industry, and our society, and the criticism whose main focus is entertainment issues. The latter one it´s not very serious and not very relevant. The first one is crucial to the development of film and filmakers. Maybe the whole problem with movie critics nowadays is that there´s too much voice being given to the first kind, and their noise is baffling the quieter, smarter reflexions of the second.)

Felipe
August 5, 2009 at 9:42 pm
>As has been pointed out, its the critic’s job to tell you why they liked or disliked the film, and whether or not they feel its worth your time and money.

“No, it´s not. And I guess a lot of the confusion and problem comes from this.

A critic´s job is to analyze critically the movie, trying to figure out what are his aestethics options, how they interact between itselves, and what can be concluded from that in regarding the social-cultural context of the society that made the movie. Giving a judgement of value is not part of the job. Obviously, critics have their preferences, but a good critic is able to study any work of art. ”

Well Felipe if you had continued reading my post instead of stopping at that sentence and extrapolating what you wanted, you might have seen we have similar opinions on what makes a good critic:

“The good reviewers out there will go a step further and tell you exactly why the movie worked or did not work, citing examples from similar films in the genre or techniques used in by other filmmakers. Sure, it can be fun to eviscerate a piece of crap, but trust me, its much more enjoyable to actually see a good movie. Its not about being a snob, though you’ll find enough of those in any circle- fanboys certainly not excluded.”

Now sure, you pointed out how the critic will also tackle the socio-political context, but in the end, we both agree that a good critic will look at the work of art and consider what it is and how they are affected by it. But let’s also not pretend there is not a business aspect- the greater percentage of critics actually making money in the business ARE telling you if it is worth your time and money- that’s part of the job- it may not be part of the art of criticism, but those are separate ideas- something I tried to articulate- perhaps not well.

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