Am I really going to do this to myself... again?
Am I really going to lay down hard earned money to let Hollywood tarnish yet another memory of my youth?
The two "Transformers" movies were terrible (sorry Aarron), they've already started filming the "Karate Kid" remake with Jackie Chan and Will Smith's kid, and there are plans to bring popular video and board games to the big screen in "Asteroids" and "Monopoly" (how is Monopoly going to work as a movie by the way? All I know is it will probably be at least five hours long).
If that all wasn't bad enough, my most sacred and favorite childhood pastime will be flogged and violated as "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" opens in theaters today.
And I'm going to see it tonight.
There's no way for anyone to understand what G.I. Joe means to me. Not my closest friends, not my Fiance, not even my parents. I spent most of my time growing up as an only child. When I'd get together with my friends, we would play baseball outside if it was nice and Legos inside if it was raining.
But that was only once, maybe twice a week.
The rest of the time from 1985-1991, I would ONLY play with my G.I. Joe action figures. Let's do the math on that one for a minute: let's say I played with my G.I. Joe toys for four hours a day (that's on the low end) for four days a week (again on the low end). That's 16 hours per week. Times that by 52 weeks and that is 832 hours a year. Times that by six years and the grand total is 4,992 hours.
I spent nearly 5,000 hours of my life playing with my G.I. Joes and again, I have to believe that's on the low end.
So this was not some passing hobby or fad I got into for a while.
I was obsessed.
I had a nice little system worked out too. Whenever I saved up enough allowance money, I would go buy a new action figure. I would also add guys to my collection by getting a good report card or as a present from a relative. My parents would always get me a tank, or a headquarters, or a jeep, or some big weapon for my birthday or Christmas so that's how I kept up with the accessories.
And I wasn't one of those kids that just beat up their Joes by dropping them out of windows or shooting them with BB guns or tying them to firecrackers or rockets.
I was very meticulous.
I would literally spend hours setting everyone up and had a specific mission for each individual guy or team. I had a specific person for each job inside the headquarters. One guy guarded the jail every day. One guy watched the radar every day. One guy manned the big machine gun every day. I had one group of guys that did recon work in the jeep and the same guy always drove.
While we did that comedy show back in college, my dad once said that my directing reminded him of me orchestrating my Joes. I knew exactly what he was talking about.
I got that from playing with my G.I. Joes.
I wouldn't tolerate many girl Joes, but I did have Scarlett. I had the biggest crush on her as a kid, especially in the cartoon series. Where do you think I developed my fascination with red heads and decided to MARRY one next Saturday?
I got that from G.I. Joe.
Hopefully ALL OF THAT hammers home the point that this was a special universe to me. With the release of the movie this summer, Joes have even made a mini-comeback in the stores. Every now and then I find myself wondering down the toy aisle of Target or Wal-Mart just flashing back, remembering all of the figures I had (now that I think of it, I must look like some pervert to everyone else in those aisles).
I even used to dream about a live-action G.I. Joe movie. I'm pretty sure I even wrote one too (it was probably 15-20 pages long and involved one to two set-ups and fight sequences). So I should be stoked about this movie. I should be looking forward to a reminiscent trip down Memory Lane, but I'm not.
I'm actually terrified.
It looks terrible. It looks like it is just another run of the mill-too many special effects-get your pop corn ready-big budget-summer blockbuster (so basically, it looks like "Transformers").
Here are my biggest concerns:
- Marlon Wayans, an African American actor, is playing Ripcord, a white guy from the toys and cartoon. Really? We really needed to invent a cliche funny black guy character? Really?
- Joseph Gordon Levitt is playing Cobra Commander. Really? He is also starring in the new release "500 Days of Summer" and I will ALWAYS think of him as the kid from "3rd Rock From the Sun".
- Destro doesn't look like Destro at all. As you can see from the picture (to the left), the Destro on the left is the one I grew up with. It's like they're not even trying to capture that with Christopher Eccleston's take on the character on the right. I know it's "The Rise of Cobra" so maybe this concern takes care of itself in the movie.
- My BIGGEST frustration is the costumes. I get it that the bright, comic bookie colors wouldn't have worked with the "X-Men" movies, but the costumes are what made G.I. Joe for me. The outfits added to the character's personalities and now they all look the same as some special forces unit. The old Joe had a rough, rugged, almost Wild West throwback feel to it; but this is coming off as modern and futuristic.
I do like that it seems as though they are tapping into the martial arts-meets-militaristic warfare angle that was always prominent in G.I. Joe, but that's about it so far.
I've heard rumors that we might catch a glimpse of Bazooka's "14" jersey somewhere in the film and there will be other little nuggets in there for the die-hards like me. Maybe more characters will be introduced if there are any sequels (I would be surprised if there weren't).
I just can't help but feel like it means something that this particular movie is opening the last weekend before I get married. This might just be a good way to acknowledge the person I was and have been one last time before I entire a radically new and exciting era of my life.
If I can get that out of it, it will be worth it.
Regardless, I'm keeping my expectations very low and hopefully will be able to separate my memories from this new, potentially tragic, reality. Maybe it will introduce the Joes to a new generations of fans, maybe it won't be as bad as it look, or maybe my head will just finally explode and I'll be out of my misery for good.
We'll know one way or another for sure after tonight, and like the Joes always said, knowing is half the battle.