Yesterday evening a five-minute 'sizzle reel' of footage from "G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra" was screened in Sydney by Paramount Pictures to a crowd of journos, exhibitors and execs.
Until now the only footage screened from the film has been the thirty-second Superbowl spot. While repeating some scenes from that, this expanded on what was shown and combined finished effects with animatics and live-action footage.
The footage established the premise that an international military task force has been setup to combat global threats. The base of operations seems to be a sandy desert somewhere with one of the early effects shots showing a secret circular hangar bay door opening for an advanced Harrier-like jet to land. Later on we see two lumps racing under the sand and disturbing a caravan of camels.
The main thrust of the story in the film is that the COBRA organization have taken microscopic robot nanites, originally developed as a way to cure cancer, and have been able to reprogram them to do almost anything.
A demonstration involves the launch of a missile containing some nanites that have been programmed to eat metal. The missile is fired from some sort of underwater vehicle in The Seine, it streaks across Paris and hits the Eiffel tower. The tower is eaten away, bits of the lower arches start falling off as people scatter, and the tower itself collapses.
Destro (Christopher Eccleston) talks about the plan and is seen operating from COBRA's own secret base which is a huge underwater facility under the Arctic ice. Much of the visual effects footage, albeit mostly incomplete, showed what looked like a climactic attack by GIJOE's forces against this base - think "Thunderball" meets "Seaquest" with lots of sleek looking CG submersibles attacking similar vehicles and/or the giant metal spires that make up the various wings of the facility.
Another big portion of the footage is devoted to the body armor worn by the good guys. The body suit essentially covers everything but their face (which is covered in retractable glass/plastic) and is said to enhance a person's strength, speed and agility. We briefly glimpse the CG heads up display on the inside of each helmet as well.
Cut to a truly bizarre scene in Paris where two people (Channing Tatum and Marlon Wayans I think) in the suits are running through the streets as European luxury cars with retractable guided missile launchers built into them fire rockets at the duo. The two guys jump, flip, dive through a train, get flung off the back of a truck that gets blown up, etc.
Later on there's a scene with The Baroness (Sienna Miller) on top of a a building's massive glass ceiling as Tatum's character lands on the far side. As he runs towards her, she sets off some device and the ceiling explodes upwards in a massive shower of glass that sends him tumbling.
While we glimpse Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow in the footage a few times, there was no sign or even hint of Cobra Commander as far as I can recall.
The verdict? With much of the FX unfinished it is too early to make any real judgement call. Ultimately it is what it is - a Stephen Sommers film. Like Baz Luhrmann on speed, the man is about as subtle as a sledgehammer and so everything in this is huge and explosive in a visually impressive but utterly over the top and often quite silly way.
Sadly nothing shown here indicates he has learned any lessons from his last two disappointments, but considering much of it was quick cut shots with only the barest hint of dialogue - I'd love to be proven wrong on that judgement call.