August 7, 2009 10:41:00 AM
When forces of good and evil clash on movie screens across the country as "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" opens Aug. 7, Columbus'' Malco Theatre and the Mississippi National Guard will be right there with them.
The adrenaline-packed live action film starring Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum and Marlon Wayans is inspiring related events at the theater at 2320 Highway 45 N. On Saturday, laser games, patriotic displays and representatives of the Mississippi Army National Guard 155th Brigade will be part of the movie experience.
The National Guard''s mobile Sure Shot unit will open in the parking lot at noon, offering free laser games and even some computerized military simulations throughout the afternoon.
A paneled memorial to Mississippi''s fallen soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan will be displayed by the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
In addition, the theater pays tribute to area servicemen and women with a "Wall of Honor" in its lobby.
"We have three employees and five past employees who are deployed over there, and we just decided to do something," said theater manager Gary Dyer. The display grew beyond Dyer''s expectations. "We put their names and pictures up on the wall, and it''s ballooned into probably 200 pictures now; it''s really gone over good in the community." Anyone is welcome to put up photos of deployed family members, Dyer added.
Volunteers from Mississippi''s 155th Brigade will also be at the theater Saturday, selling T-shirts in support of its many deployed troops.
Kindness from home
Project Package, a volunteer network, will have containers in the theater throughout the movie''s run, collecting items to ship to the several thousand North Mississippi soldiers currently stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The project''s goal is to send a box from home to every service member monthly.
Small items needed include candy, peanuts, hand sanitizer, toothbrushes, toothpaste, foot powder and microwave popcorn. Monetary donations to help cover purchase of items and postage can also be made at Malco.
"We put everything in these packages from toilet tissue to beef jerky," said Ricky Pope, of Project Package. "We hope everyone will want to help out with this project."
"G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" debuts in Columbus Friday at 1:10 p.m.
Show times for the PG-13 movie Friday and Saturday are 1:10 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 7:20 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.