At least 90% of the movie –100 % if you include the computer-generated sets — is a cartoon with a few living, breathing people (the actors at least, not their characters) matted in. There wasn't even an attempt to make the animated/CGI portions appear the slightest bit realistic (or the characters, for that matter).
The best parts of the movie — and I use the terms "best" and "movie" very loosely — are the computer-generated battles. When the CGI action stops for some "emotional" moments, the movie becomes unbearably dull. The backstory flash-backs are so heavy-handed, cliche-ridden and obvious that I found myself longing for the CGI to return. The comedy bits, mostly lame one-liners badly delivered by Marlon Wayons, portraying a steroid-pumped Stepin Fetchit, were only slightly less painful. Marlon wasn't the only guy playing a caricature, not by far (I kept waiting for the sharpnosed, penny-pinching Jew to show up). With the emphasis on CGI, caricature seems to be all that's left to quicky and effectively convey character…or at least what passes for it.
CGI is no longer a tool in story-telling — it has become the story-telling. It's the Michael Bayification of cinema. Who needs acting, character, plot or the emotional investment of the audience when you have CGI? Every big movie coming out of Hollywood now is a videogame or a toy commercial masquerading as a film. A movie can be big without being 99% CGI and 1% cardboard characters.
On the way to the theater, my wife and I remembered how we used to go to the movies every week. Now months can go by without us seeing a movie. What changed? Well, watch GI JOE and you'll see.
I'm sure GI JOE will make 100 gazillion dollars…and its a damn shame.