Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 11/9/00
G.I. Joe: The
1987 (2000) - Rhino
review by Brad Pilcher of
The Digital Bits
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
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
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!"