G.I. Joe wasn't screened for critics because Paramount wanted to market the movie to Middle Amerikkka without being judged. Critical reviews are finally coming in. They're going to be bad, it's just a matter of how bad. And how bad?
Roger Ebert says G.I. Joe wasn't as bad as Transformers 2. But it still sucked ass:
"G. I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" is a 118-minute animated film with sequences involving the faces and other body parts of human beings. It is sure to be enjoyed by those whose movie appreciation is defined by the ability to discern that moving pictures and sound are being employed to depict violence. Nevertheless, it is better than "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen."
Richard Corliss from Time thinks the entire thing is self-parody, and furthermore calls out the - and I'm paraphrasing - bitchass bloggers that were shown the film for being cornered into studio hype:
One of the few smart things about G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was the decision by Paramount Pictures to refuse to screen the movie for the press. The studio's previous summer toy story, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, had earned a sheaf of pans, then took in more than $800 million in its first six weeks of release. Hoping lightning would strike twice, but without the annoying critical thunder, Paramount showed G.I. Joe, which it hopes will be the first in a lucrative series, only to a few reliable bloggers. Less docile scribes like me had to catch a public screening last night at midnight. As the old line goes about some long-ago lemon: The movie wasn't released - it escaped.
Shots ring out! Rolling Stone's Peter Travers-king of the publicity pull-quote-got all poopie-pants when the movie wasn't screened for him! Watch his tantrum, as he first summarizes the film, then recommends a better Paramount movie:
The goal is stop arms dealer McCullen...from destroying the world with warheads packed with cockroaches. Well, they looked like roaches to me. McCullen calls then nanomites. No one really bothers to explain how these nanomites morph from insects into green slime. And this in a movie that helpfully tells us, via subtitle, that Paris is in France...There is an antidote if you see G.I. Joe and feel unclean. Get a copy of Team America World Police, the 2004 puppet musical from South Park's Trey Parker and Matt Stone. It totally skewers the 'America Fuck Yeah' idiocy on parade here.
It might be worth noting that one of the film's major set-pieces has the Eiffel Tower getting taken down by a missle-turned-green-slime in a piece of Anti-France porn sentiment that's even outdated for hicks by like, six years. This movie sucks so bad, even Young Republican Kyle Smith of the New York Post - who ragged on Do The Right Thing as patently wrong - hated this movie. His review sucked, but here's some more of what it's like:
That movie [The Mummy] and this one share a director, Stephen Sommers, who also inexplicably places the Joes' HQ beneath the Great Pyramids (hell, sand worked before), uses the guy who played the Mummy as a baddie named Zartan, and even dusts off Brendan Fraser, who pops up in the Joes' training center but has nothing to do but watch G.I. Joe for five minutes.
Unfortunately, insanely, perpetually crunchy New York Press film critic Armond White has yet to see it, but expect fireworks when he does (he will probably call it a masterwork of brilliance; this is the same guy thought Up was terrible). Others have weighed in on how much this movie sucks, and you can read their Metascores here. It's almost depressing how shamelessly ready these studios are to pump out sincerely mediocre fare. This is the kind of thing that makes Funny People look like Citizen Kane. Then again, any movie where you can watch the bottom line on an entire industry get lower in front of you might be worth the nine bucks to see. Probably not, but still: impressive.