Sep 10, 2010

[Movies] G.I. Joe: The Movie (1987)

G.I. Joe: The Movie (1987)In the late 80's, it suddenly became a brilliant idea to create feature-length movies based on popular animated cartoons of the time. Thus we got memorable classics like Transformers: The Movie and stranger additions to movie history such as My Little Pony: The Movie. The mixed box office success resulted in this becoming a direct-to-video release as opposed to a theatrical one, but it still has its place in 80's culture.

While I never was overly into G.I. Joe as a kid, I know a lot of other kids were. Sure, they had some pretty cool vehicles and I doubt we'll never get tired of seeing characters like the Baroness cackle and laugh while ripping off yet another perfectly-fitting mask. Or the million and one variations on snake-themed vehicles and weapons of mass destruction. And don't forget the Dreadnoks who are like the ultimate redneck thugs with power saws and laser weapons!

So that, together with a 95-episode animated series, helped propel this show to become a movie, even if it never made it to the theaters.

G.I. Joe Logo from the 1985 TV seriesImage via WikipediaG.I. Joe: The Movie was the only movie based on the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero cartoon series (and was subsequently broken down into several episodes for regular broadcast).

The story begins another failed attempt by Cobra (the ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world) to cause trouble for the free world. This triggers another argument between Cobra Commander (Chris Latta) and Serpentor (Dick Gautier) regarding whose fault it was and who should truly rule Cobra. While this is going on, a mysterious woman manages to infiltrate the Terrordrome. She manages to get to Serpentor and reveals her identity - Pythona, a member of a secret civilization called Cobra-La. She claims it was her people who caused Dr. Mindbender (Brian Cummings) to come up with the idea to create Serpentor. Thus she convinces Serpentor to use his Cobra forces to steal the new Broadcast Energy Transmitter (B.E.T.).

Conveniently enough, the G.I. Joe forces were field-testing the BET in the Himalayas where Cobra manages to find them and attempt to steal the device. This attempt fails and G.I. Joe manage to capture Serpentor in the process. Meanwhile, the Cobra forces plan their next attempt to take the BET. Elsewhere, a group of G.I. Joe rookies go through their paces including Duke's half-brother, Lieutenant Falcon (Don Johnson). With an introduction like this, then you know he's going to play a larger role in things later on.

The whole plot of the movie - a secret snake-based civilization that helped create Serpentor and was somehow the origin of Cobra Commander to boot. Plus having them running around talking about the BET over and over again without making you laugh about references to the Black Entertainment Network are just priceless.

Although, you have to give the writers credit for making sure they involved every possible environment they could dredge up. It made sure that everyone got their time in the spotlight, including cold weather specialists like Snow Job (Rob Paulsen). Heck, they even got Sgt. Slaughter's Renegades into the picture. In other words, it's the kind of blatant fan-pandering you'd expect from a cartoon designed to sell as many toys as possible.

Although, the movie does have its share of fun moments. I mean come on, who didn't think Nemesis Enforcer was pretty kick ass, right? And even Jinx (Shûko Akune) turned out to be a rather decent character. And Sgt. Slaughter was very much Sgt. Slaughter (in real life to boot!). Whoo boy.

The movie generates more nostalgia than it does awe of its brilliance or anything like that. But then a lot of stuff from the 80's sort of fits that description and that's sort of part of the charm of the period. And this movie really does capture a lot of that and it very well demonstrates why the show was successful in the first place.

G.I. Joe: The Movie may not have been the greatest movie, but it was something one that I don't mind watching repeatedly, especially for the very catching opening theme song. It gets 3 mad cries of "Cobra-lalalalalalalalalala!" out of a possible 5.
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