G.I. Joe the animated movie

a movie review and short history of G.I. Joe
June 06, 2012
Retrodave here to talk about G.I. Joe the animated movie. I also realize people get tired of movie reviews, so I added a short history of G.I. Joe that hopefully will make this article more interesting. Second I just want to say I don't like Retrojunk's new format. This made writing this article more difficult. Just throwing it out there.

Let's start with how Hasbro the toy company that still makes G.I. Joe figures and how the first G. I. Joe toys began. In the 1960's toy soldiers were tiny plastic nonposeable figures that just could stand in a standard pose. Just like the plastic toy soldiers in "Toy Story."

"Toy Story" toy soldiers

Hasbro wanted to make a boys' military theme toy to compete with Barbie. The toy would be a 12" poseable army figurine. So then in 1964 they came up with the first G.I. Joe, "America's [italic] moveable [/i] fighting man." To market to boys they were called "action figures," not "dolls." That's right G.I. Joe was the first set of toys to be called "action figures." The original toy line lasted from 1964 - 1969. Followed by a non-military themed G.I. Joe toy-line from 1970 - 1976; the G.I. Joe Adventure Team. The reason for this was military toys were becoming less popular.

These are action figures not dolls

In 1982 the 3 3/4" toys that most of grew up playing with came out. This was when Hasbro started making villains known as Cobra. Also in 1982 Marvel released a series of comics based of the characters from the toys. Imagine that a comic where the merchandising is already done for you. The Marvel comics stopped publication of this title in 1994.

The first G. I. Joe Comic

The first Cobra Commander action figure

The success of the toys and comics led to the popular but short lived cartoon series. "G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero." The show launched a mini-series in 1983. Then a second mini-series came about in 1984. Which in returned launched the TV series from 1985 - 1987. Unfortunately I was born November 4, 1985 and hence I could not tell you about my personal experiences of the show because I never actually watched a single episode. For the article however, I've decided to put in the original opening.

Even though it was popular it only lasted for two seasons. Sunbow the studio making the show did not continue the show after the animated movie due to production costs. This led to DiC picking up the show in 1989. I am not sure how the story would continue due to how the animated movie ended. Since the show was so popular they had made G.I. Joe PSAs to teach kids lessons about fire- safety, not taking medicine from the medicine cabinet without permission, or not to ride your bike over damaged power lines. Here is one PSA.

Did you know the kids in the "bike" PSA are the same stupid kids from the "fire" PSA? Well now you know. And Knowing is half the battle. G.I. Jooooooooooooe. Sorry couldn't resist. These PSA's were later dubbed as parodies. Sometime later parodies of the PSAs were made by Joe DeMartino. Here is the previous PSA as a parody.

I'll be getting into the movie shortly. First lets talk a little about "The Transformers: The Movie." To clarify I'm talking about the animated transformers movie not the live action one. The Transformers movie was of course based on the cartoon show which of course was based on Hasbro's other successful toy line. The movie was not as successful as the film makers had expected it to be. The reason I thought it was not as successful as the film makers had hoped was (spoiler alert) the death of some characters including Optimus Prime. Why did they kill off such popular characters? Because Hasbro created new characters to replace the old ones. To me that is bad marketing strategy. Don't fix it if it's not broke. Many fans were upset about Optimus Prime dying. However despite that there is a huge cult following of the movie today.

"The Transformers: The movie"

You're probably wondering why I bothered writing about "The Transformers: The Movie." Initially "G.I. Joe: The Movie" was to be released in theaters but due to the low success of The Transformers movie it was decided to release "G.I. Joe: The Movie" to home video only (VHS) at the time. As I was saying just like the Transformers movie, the G.I. Joe movie which introduces new characters from the new toy line. Some of these new characters have a bizare background and probably were not well received. That is probably the reason why the G.I. Joe movie was not as well liked as the Transformers movie. The problem with making a show based off a toy line is when the toy company decides to come up with a whole new set of characters; characters that don't exactly fit with the rest of the characters of the show you're going to have problems.

"Arise, Serpentor, Arise!"

Note: this summary of the movie may be a little long but there is a lot of plot to go over. The events of the movie take place right after the events of the televised mini-series "Arise, Serpentor, Arise!" So now Serpentor is the new head of Cobra, and Cobra Commander is second in command. G.I. Joe the movie has a pretty cool opening that just serves as an opening and not actually part of the movie's plot. Here is the opening.

Now wouldn't that kick-ass if that opening was done in live-action in the upcoming film "G.I. Joe Retaliation." Oh well I digress. The actual plot of the animated movie begins after the opening and takes place at the Terror Drome (Cobra Headquarters.) The high ranking members of Cobra are all showing their true thoughts of Cobra Commander. That is they all point out his many faults. All I can think of at this point is; what is Cobra Commander's real name? Well since I don't feel like writing out his full name each time I'm going to start calling him "CC" that will be easier.

While this is happening on a strange new action figure; I mean character from Cobra-La is infiltrating the Terror Drome. I will explain about Cobra-La later on. This character is known as Pythona. Pythona doesn't mean any harm to Cobra; she just wants to inform Serpentor about G.I. Joe's new device the Broadcast Energy Transmitter. (B.E.T.) I thought it would be cool to show you this part of the movie.

So then G.I. Joe is testing out the BET in the middle of the Himalayas. Why would G.I. Joe test out this new machine in the middle of the Himalayas? My guess would be that all of the dessert testing facilitates were booked that day, or it could be for plot convenience that relates to that location. So what does the BET do? It pumps out energy from the air at an enormous rate and this energy is powerful enough to be blasted into space. This machine can also be the answer to the Earth's energy crisis. Well that's good, but why is G.I. Joe concern with those matters? Isn't there purpose to fight Cobra, not solve problems with conserving the Earth's energy? Why does Cobra want it? Did they forget to pay the electric bill or something? There is a good reason why Cobra wants it, and I will get to that. This brings us to are first fight between Cobra and G.I. Joe. Here is a clip.

Watching that clip you probably notice a few things. Number one they use guns that look like standard military weapons, but shoot laser blasts. This of course was a standards issue. Anther thing out of the all the laser blasts, the BET is not damaged, only vehicles are shot down and Duke just gets a scratch on his arm from being shot. No wonder these two enemies have been fighting for so long no one seems to hit anybody.

The battle continues and Serpentor is captured. CC calls retreat and Cobra heads into the mountains. Some Joes follow and they wind up in Cobra-La. I want to say "Cobra-La" was meant as a temp name. However Hasbro liked it so they kept it. The Joes are attacked by mutant plants, Cobra-La guards, and Nemesis Enforcer (a mutant bat-person of Cobra-La.) Cobra is spared, but CC finds he is in trouble as he sees Pythona.

Nemesis Enforcer with Pythona

Meanwhile back at G.I. Joe HQ. Beachhead is training the "rawhides." Six new toys... uh that is characters for the movie. These characters are new recruits of G.I. Joe. To me these characters look like rejects from the "Police Academy" movies. I could write about these characters but, I think I'll just show these scenes from the movie.

The only rawhide not shown in those scenes is Duke's irresponsible half-brother Lt. Falcon. These rawhides need some work, but I'm not sure Beachhead should be the one to train them. What kind of instructor uses a REAL Bomb in a TRAINING EXERCISE?

Lt. Falcon with Zarana in disguise. [/align]

As I said before Lt. Falcon is irresponsible. He lets his girlfriend on base with a camera and shows her to top secret areas such as where Serpentor is being held. It so happens that Lt. Falcon's girlfriend is Cobra Operative Zarana in disguise. Unlike most disguises in cartoon shows this one is very good and it doesn't even look like Zarana. Duke confiscates her camera, but not her hidden camera earnings.

Zarana's actual appearance (this pic. not from the movie)

Lt. Falcon screws up again by leaving his post to talk with Jinx. Because of this Pythona and others free Serpentor. Also three Joe's were injured. Seeing how they were breaking in so easily I don't think Falcon being at his post would've made a big difference.

Meanwhile Serpentor is brought back to Cobra-La where we meat the ruler of this nation, Golobulus. Golobulus tells Serpentor and the rest of Cobra that he had an insect known as a psychic motivator implanted into the mind of Dr. Mindbenders. The psychic motivator inside of Dr. Mindbender gave him the idea to create Serpentor using the DNA of the most fearsome and diabolical deceased rulers on Earth. After that there is a lot of exposition and the trail of CC. Doesn't "CC" have a real name? I don't want to write out all of the exposition so luckily I found a clip on youtube.

After this point you probably lost more loyal fans. Particularly with CC's back story. I did some research. How could his eyes been deformed when they are clearly visible in this mask?

Okay so there is that. But what fate awaits our irresponsible Lt. Falcon? Well instead of being taken to a Court Marshall Duke suggests he learns how to be Joe if it kills him. He is going to the Slaughterhouse to train Sgt. Slaughter and the new characters known as the Renegades. Here is yet another clip.

(Broken YouTube Link Removed)

Now then the Renegades get a assignment to destroy the Terror Drome. Why them? I don't know. The five of them go in without weapons because Lt. Falcon being the idiot that he is suggests it. Sgt. Slaughter for some reason likes that idea. So the five of them without weapons destroy Cobra Headquarters. None of the major Cobra people are destroyed but, if it was so easy to destroy this place then why wasn't done before? Later a big fight between Cobra/ Cobra-La with monster snake creatures against G.I. Joe at their headquarters takes place. Duke was injured by Serpentor's snake and goes into a coma. He was supposed to die however he did not, because the death of Optimus Prime angered so many fans.

Duke's almost death scene

The final battle takes place at Cobra-La. Tunnel Rat and the others take out the Dreadnoks. Big Lob destroys some other mutant plants that has some Joe's entangled in their vines. Giant insects and arachnids that make up certain structures of Cobra-La come to life and attack the Joes. Jinx and Pythona fight. Pythona falls over Jinx into an abyss. Sgt. Slaughter throws Nemesis Enforcer into the same abyss. It seems like Serpentor and Golobulus might have escaped. And our hero Falcon overloads the BET revving up enough heat to burn up the mutating spores. The BET overheats and blows up all of Cobra-La. All the Joes escape just before they explode. Doc informs everyone Duke has come out of his Coma. Cobra Commander is now a real Cobra. Everyone cheers, "YO JOE!" ROLL CREDITS.

Wow, what a long synopsis. It was long because there is a lot of story to cover in such a short movie. I actually like this movie. Sure there are some problems; probably more for the die hard fans. However since I am not familiar with the cartoon too much I can just base this on my own opinions and not based on how it compares to the cartoon. With that said this isn't that bad. Other movies based on kids shows turn out to be crap. I think this is good. Their are so many characters, particularly since they added so many new ones. I like the setting of Cobra-La; despite that was the stupid name they were stuck with. I like the concept of their society. A bit unusual but that is okay. The characters Golobulus, Nemesis Enforcer, and Pythona are good additions; at least I think they are. I love their plan to turn the human population into mindless beasts. The Rawhides are not great but, Hasbro added them to the toy-line. What were the filmmakers to do? Falcon redeems himself at the end. That is great. I think the Renegades would be great if we saw more of them, but it seems they were kinda thrown together in the middle of the movie.

You will like Serpentor, THIS I COMMAND!

Serpentor is okay. Based off this movie alone, Cobra Commander seems like a coward and really shouldn't be in charge of anything at all. The story is bizarre, but it keeps my interest. Some of the dialogue is cheesy especially from Roadblock and Sgt. Slaughter. That is to expected from a movie based on a Saturday morning cartoon from the '80s. I like the animation and the score is nice to listen to. I think I would recommend this film but only to a specific audience. One that wouldn't mind the weirdness and cheesy dialogue. Overall it is a movie I enjoy watching.

Retrodaves rating: 8 of 10.
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