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‘G.I. Joe’ opens to little fanfare

It’s the biggest movie of the summer that practically no one has seen.

“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” opens today, but Paramount Pictures didn’t screen the blockbuster for critics’ reviews beforehand. Only select writers from blogs and movie Web sites have seen it, and their opinions have been mostly positive.

Instead, the studio says it’s intentionally aiming the movie at the heartland, at audiences outside the entertainment vortexes of New York and Los Angeles. Paramount held a screening last week for 1,000 military service members and their families at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, D.C.

While appealing to a sense of patriotism, the plan also is inspired by the disparity between the critical trashing “Transformers: Rise of the Fallen” received and the massive crowds it drew at the box office. Both it and “G.I. Joe” are effects-laden spectacles based on Hasbro toys.

“We want audiences to define this film,” said Rob Moore, vice chairman of Paramount Pictures.

With a reported production budget of $175 million and a cast that includes Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Marlon Wayans and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, “G.I. Joe” follows the adventures of an elite team using high-tech spy and military equipment to take down a corrupt arms dealer.

Devin Faraci from the film Web site is among the two dozen critics who’ve contributed to the movie’s 60-plus-percent positive rating on the Rotten Tomatoes Web site, saying: “If I was 10 years old, ‘G.I. Joe’ would be one of the best movies I had ever seen.”

As for the mainstream critics, he says, “I think it’ll get a more positive response than they (at Paramount) expect. It’s a big, silly, pulpy, cartoony action film and it makes no apologies for being that way.”