GI Joe

August 2nd, 2009 Film, Personalities, Xpress

Full to bursting with explosions, otherworldly machinery and vehicles, sword, gun and fist fights, exotic locations and girls in tight black leather outfits, GI Joe might seem like the cinematic equivalent of the backyard shed — strictly bloke territory.

Rachel Nichols, who plays the winsome but dangerous Scarlett, begs to differ when Xpress spoke to her during her recent promotional tour. “Well, you’ve also got Channing Tatum and Marlon Wayans and those boys aren’t hard on the eyes,” says the plucky 29 year old and veteran of TV’s Alias, “so I don’t think women are going to have a problem watching the movie. Plus it’s not only action, there are two really sweet love stories. There’s the Baroness [Sienna Miller]/Duke[Channing Tatum] love story which is difficult and dark and arduous and there’s this really sweet romance between Ripcord [Marlon Wayans] and Scarlet. I think women will actually really like the movie because it’s not just an action flick, there’s so much more to it.

We put a similar question to former Warner Bros studio head-turned independent producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, the man behind GI Joe and 2009’s biggest hits so far, Star Trek and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Isn’t making a movie about a toy going to shut out not just women but adults in general? Of course, the original Transformers resoundingly blitzed that expectation somewhat after owning the 2007 box office, and di Bonaventura thinks GI Joe’s longevity as a toy and comic strip works in its favour.

“It seems if you’re 40 or 45 and older you think, ‘Oh GI Joe, that’s that American army solder thing’,” he says. “If you’re younger you understand it has nothing to do with that, that it was a fantasy story of good guys versus bad guys. They had no geo-political military or jingoistic agenda, which I was happy about because if you want to make a big entertaining movie it’s hard to do that trying to make political statements at the same time.

“So it can be a very age specific thing, it’s people under 40 who go to the movies. But GI Joe’s been around for a long time so there’s a great awareness of the title and in a way it’s sort of comforting for people.”

From the pen of the seemingly unstoppable Australian screenwriter Stuart Beattie as he goes from strength to strength in Hollywood, GI Joe offered both a rich tapestry of interlinked characters and the potential for massive action set pieces. With over 30 ‘Joes’ in the comic (only one of which was ever killed off) and a near-future setting, the idea gave director Stephen (The Mummy) Sommers a huge canvas, one Nichols was very happy to sign onto.

“It was the sheer magnitude of it,” she says of what convinced her. “I went through the audition process and met Stephen but I hadn’t read the script until after I’d been offered the job, but then I was even more excited after reading the script because I’m a huge fan of explosions and the effects and all of that, but I also loved of the character development and the relationships.”

Di Bonaventura agrees Sommers was the only craftsman for the job, calling his ‘sense of fun’ the magic ingredient. “Their back stories are staggering, so we had to have somebody who really wanted to juggle that demand but you don’t want to get it bogged down by not being fun. Those two things made him the right guy.”

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