One of the most mystifying things about the summer of 2009 has been how, months ago and without any actual information to go on, it became gospel that G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was going to be a ridiculous train wreck. This is especially bewildering in light of the moderate-to-positive buzz that preceded the release of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, also for no apparent reason. Who decided that G.I. Joe would be terrible? When? Why?
I have, as they say, no robotically enhanced dog in this hunt. I certainly do not expect G.I. Joe to be any sort of season's highlight. I don't have any specific expectations for it, to be honest. But here's the information I have: this is a summer action movie directed by Stephen Sommers, whose last three blockbusters have ranged from tolerable mediocrity to delirious fun. Its cast includes character actors like Christopher Eccleston and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (as the arch-villain, no less). Its trailer is no more or less ridiculous than you would expect from a movie based on action figures, and actually struck me as lighter on its feet than other recent tentpoles. Why it's fated to be the summer's biggest disaster escapes me entirely.
I mean, look at this USA Today piece about the film's "bad buzz". What facts does it actually contain? Anonymous, generalized "complaints" about elements of the trailer. (Was it really that bad? I just don't see it.) The notion that "the script was hurried into production" to beat the writer's strike -- legitimate, but shamefully vague. And a positive review from Harry Knowles, which I guess some people would consider a bad sign, but I'm not sure that's the point the article was making. The piece doesn't even mention the absurd rumors -- not helpful, though proven false -- that Stephen Sommers was kicked off the project in post-production.