Wednesday, August 3, 2022

G.I. JOE: The Movie

Wayback Wednesday takes us back to 1987 and the animated feature birthed from the G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero cartoon which is nearly as incomprehensible today as it was 35 years ago. Originally intended for a theatrical release, the movie instead went straight-to-video. It was also later split into separate episodes fitting the formula of several other multi-episode arcs of G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero.

The movie reveals that Cobra Commander (Chris Latta) had been secretly working for an ancient society which sent the Commander into the world of men to wipe out the competition. His multiple failures led them to inspire Dr. Mindbender (Brian Cummings) to create Serpentor (Dick Gautier), retconning the character's origins as part of the larger plans of Cobra-La which now include stealing a Broadcast Energy Transmitter to help seed the world with space spores to destroy humanity.

This movie is insane. While certainly better than G.I. JOE: The Rise of Cobra (what isn't?), the film is a mess in interjecting the bizarre organic technology and characters of Cobra-La into the G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero continuity in ways that make no sense to the story told up to this point. They aren't the only new characters shoehorned here as the film also introduces new Joe trainees and Duke's (Michael Bell) half-assed half-brother Lt. Falcon (Don Johnson) who screws up enough times to be court-martialed a half-dozen times before been sent to train with Sgt. Slaughter.

Along with all of this we also get the training of the other recruits (Jinx, Law, Chuckles, Tunnel Rat, and Big Lob) under the worst teacher even in Beach Head (William Callaway), the introduction of Slaughter's Renegades, the weirdos of Cobra-La, an attack on Cobra Island, and the death of a major character (which was retconned with some voice dubbing before release given the negative publicity of Optimus Prime's recent death in Transformers: The Movie). Speaking of retconning, the film also runs into issues with a new backstory for Cobra Commander that contradicts what had previously been established in the cartoon.

It's immediately apparent that many of these threads don't fit together for a cohesive whole. G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero is a jumbled mess you will spend nearly the entire time attempting to figure out what the plan was and how it all went so very wrong. With all of this, it seems odd so many of the staples of the show get only minimal air time including Snake Eyes, Shipwreck, Scarlett, and others. In all, the film manages to work in 84 of the 95 characters available as figures at the time, although many are only seen in the opening battle montage set to an extended rock version of the show's theme song (which is exactly as odd as it sounds). Roadblock (Kene Holiday) fares a bit better given an escaped prisoner subplot teaming him up with Cobra Commander who faces the wrath of Cobra-La for his years of failure. 

Watch the trailer
  • Title: G.I. JOE: The Movie
  • IMDb: link

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