G.I. Joe: The Movie (2000, Rhino Entertainment)
Original Release: 1987
Run Time: 94 minutes
* 25 Original G.I. Joe Public Service Announcements
* 2 Theatrical Movie Trailers
* 2 Vintage Commercials
Yes, there is a “Special Edition” of this movie that was released in 2010 by Shout! Factory but I don’t own that one. Besides, doesn’t “Special COLLECTORS Edition” sound better anyway? I’m not sure what the 2010 edition comes with but I got a pretty cool stitching of the American flag that can be used as a sticker.
I remember buying this back in 2002 when I worked at a video store. There was a company called Ingram we could call up and if there was any video under the sun that was in print, they could get it for us. We took special orders all the time for customers but I also used it for myself and always got really cool, hard to find movies at a good price thanks to my employee discount. I think I paid about $7 or $8 for this when it was going for $15-20 retail. A quick look at Amazon.com shows it going for about $18 brand new these days but it’s out-of-print and is only being sold by third parties.
So after the 1986 season of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero wrapped up, it was time for a movie. Initially, it was going to be released in theaters but after Transformers: The Movie and My Little Pony: The Movie failed to light the box office on fire, G.I. Joe: The Movie ended up getting downgraded to a direct-to-video release and later was released into the Joe cartoon’s syndication package as a five-part mini-series (where I remember watching it in addition to renting it multiple times from the local library and electronics store Curtis Mathes).
The movie takes on a darker tone than the show did and also continues to delve more into the sci-fi/fantasy realm just as Season Two was doing as opposed to strictly being military-based like most of Season One. Personally, I think the existence of Cobra-La is a bit hard to swallow when it had never even been referenced up to this point. The movie rewrites Cobra Commander’s origin as well, recasting him as some disfigured blue-skinned reptile man secretly sent by Cobra-La leader Golobulus (voiced by Mickey/The Penguin Burgess Meredith!) to the surface world in order to destroy all humans. It’s been obvious for quite some time in the series that Cobra Commander was just some white guy under a mask who sought out power & money — not the end of mankind. Oh well.
Despite those inconsistencies, the movie is still pretty enjoyable and centers on Cobra & Cobra-La trying to get their hands on the B.E.T. No, they don’t want rerrange programming on Black Entertainment Television, I’m talking about the Broadcast Energy Transmitter! Golobulus’ great plan is to use the B.E.T. in order to heat up some giant plant spores so that they’ll hatch and turn mankind into mindless beasts.
Just about every single Joe & Cobra member of note makes some type of appearance — even if they don’t have dialogue, even if they are just the size of an ant in the background, even if they only appear in the movie’s opening sequence. Speaking of that opening sequence, does it get any more epic than that? The movie’s theme song will get stuck in your head for days.
Of course, the whole idea behind a property like this one is to sell merchandise, so we get to see a number of new Joe recruits: Duke’s half-brother Lt. Falcon (voiced by Don Johnson here), the bad luck ninja Jinx, the silent Hawaiian shirt-wearing Chuckles, the MP known as Law (with his dog Order), ex-basketball player Big Lob (what?) and Tunnel Rat. Also debuting are “Sgt. Slaughter’s Renegades”. With Slaughter as the leader, the team comprised of ex-Cobra Viper Mercer, former circus performer Taurus and ex-football player Red Dog. Most of these characters would later go on to appear or at least be referenced as a part of the Joe’s comic book continuity. Many have since faded into obscurity with only Falcon, Tunnel Rat, Jinx and Chuckles really having any prominent time in the comics (if only temporarily) while Tunnel Rat & Jinx have become fixtures throughout the various animated G.I. Joe revamps.
One widely reported fact about this movie is that Duke was originally intended to die at the hands of Serpentor. This was actually planned before Optimus Prime’s death in the Transformers movie but since that movie ended up getting released first and there was backlash over Prime’s death, the dialogue was changed so that Duke is said to only slip into a coma and by the end of the movie he is said to be okay. Put it on mute though — it’s obvious he died.
So with this movie, it was the end of an era. The “true” G.I. Joe series was over but it ended on an epic and enjoyable note even if I can nitpick over certain characters not getting as much screen time I would have liked. And yes, DIC may have continued the show in 1989 but they only loosely followed the events of the movie and the two Sunbow seasons as they revamped entire appearances of characters, their relationships and personalities! It just wasn’t the same and lacked the quality and heart of the Sunbow episodes but that’s a discussion for another time if/when Shout! Factory releases those two DIC seasons on video…