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Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 11/9/00



G.I. Joe: The Movie
1987 (2000) - Rhino

review by Brad Pilcher of The Digital Bits

G.I. Joe: The Movie Film Rating: C+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B-/B/B

Specs and Features

94 mins, NR, full screen (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, 2 theatrical trailers, 2 vintage G.I. Joe toy commercials, 25 original G.I. Joe public service announcements, film-themed menu screens, scene access (16 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1), subtitles: none


"GI Joe is the code-name for America's daring, highly-trained special mission force. It's purpose: to defend human freedom against Cobra, a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world."

If you were a kid in the 1980s, certain things remain etched into your childhood memories. The Goonies, The Transformers and G.I. Joe were the ultimate in entertainment as far as I was concerned. So it was with great joy and nostalgia that I got my hands on the long awaited (at least by me) DVD of the animated G.I. Joe: The Movie. The regular episodes were great, but there was nothing like seeing the Joe's go at it in full epic glory!

OK, so maybe nostalgia was getting me a little overwhelmed. But for any child of the eighties, it's easy to sympathize. In any event, just for those of you who are too young to remember or too old to care, I'll run down the basics for you. G.I. Joe is a group of Special Forces soldiers that America has for the specific purpose of fighting Cobra, a terrorist group that, being such an original bunch of guys, wants to rule the world. G.I. Joe is your All-American bunch of people who do the right thing, and also happen to have far cooler weapons than anything the regular army could get their hands on.

In this movie, G.I. Joe is testing out a new device called the Broadcast Energy Transmitter or B.E.T. for short. This device could solve the world's energy crisis, so naturally Cobra wants to get their hands on it. Of course, they do have some motivation. It would seem that an ancient race called Cobra-La, which just happens to be the force behind Cobra, has emerged to retake the Earth. All they need to do is launch these mutating spores into the atmosphere and fry them with the B.E.T. and the human race will turn into zombies. Easy enough... except G.I. Joe has the B.E.T. (and so you can sort of figure out what happens from there).

It's hard to really give this film that much credit without waxing nostalgic or letting personal reflections of my childhood get in the way. After all, the characters are all one-dimensional, for the most part, and the script is just a tad on the hokey side. The animation reflects 1980s American style, which is to say that it isn't exactly astounding. In fact, G.I. Joe always seemed like a way to make little kids love the U.S.A. and do the right thing. Talk about a reinterpretation for the Reagan years.

Still, it's G.I. Joe man! If you grew up on the stuff, you can't help but love it. It's just fun to watch people shoot a million laser beams at each other and do absolutely impossible stunts against unbeatable odds. It's classic and simple good versus evil, and it kicked butt! Take it out to the quasi-epic scale you have here, add in a few twists, like explaining the origins of Cobra Commander, and you've got a pretty innocent dose of fun for any kid who was between 5-years-old and 25-years-old in the 1980s.

The video on the disc is just as much a mixed bag as the film. The movie was never in widescreen, so there's no anamorphic or anything like that. Instead, we get decent full frame video with plenty of grain and many little defects that add up over time. But it could be much worse. It's important to note that this is easily the best presentation this film has ever received, and you can tell that just by comparing the quality of the public service announcements to the film. But this is DVD so, at bare minimum, it's always going to be better looking than ever before. So to sum it all up, it isn't a bad looking disc, Rhino just didn't do anything to make it a great-looking disc.

The audio fares much better, receiving a new 5.1 mix that won't blow you away, but definitely represents a great step up for this movie. Up until now (not counting a laserdisc version from the early 1990s), this movie has always been seen via VHS or broadcast TV. So to get a nice 5.1 mix (that the laserdisc was lacking) is a huge improvement on the mono mix of before. Sure, it could be better, and it doesn't do a damned thing with spatial effects. But the 5.1 mix adds to the fun and boasts added depth that wasn't there before.

The extras actually come out OK on this, considering it's G.I. Joe. Aside from two trailers, that have nothing to do with the movie, there are two vintage commercials for old G.I. Joe toys. I don't know just how vintage these are off the top of my head, but they look like they're straight out of the 1960s or 70s, especially considering one includes a space capsule that's right out of the Gemini program. That is a very cool little extra, but the big supplement is the public service announcements. Anybody who watched G.I. Joe remembers those quick little bits at the end of the shows that told you how to not talk to strangers or why you shouldn't steal. Well there are 25 of those here, and it's really cool to be able to relive the whole G.I. Joe experience with them.

All in all, if you were a fan of G.I. Joe as a child or just have a kick with cartoons, this disc will surely please you. If you're a more high-brow film viewer or a home theater enthusiast, you probably shouldn't be reading this review anyway. So go get 'em... and "Yo Joe!"

Brad Pilcher
bradpilcher@thedigitalbits.com




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