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Is my 80s-ness showing?
on March 18, 2004
Although I enjoyed the TransFormers toys much more than their fellow 80s Hasbro phenomenon G.I. Joe®-- 'cuz cars that can change into robots and back are way cooler than a buncha dumb ol' action figures any day of the week-- I found the Joe cartoon show just as entertaining, and not quite as hokey as the adventures of Optimus & Co. In fact, just the other day I had acquired one of those TransFormers Alternators thingies (read all about my misadventures with this new acquisition in the reviews section at www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0000XO8DW/qid=1079586717/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/103-0457490-8406223?v=glance&s=toys), and I watched G.I. Joe The Movie whilst I attempted to convert my new plaything into robot mode... without referrin' to the instruction sheet (which is something we TransFans of the macho persuasion do, 'natch). I hadn't seen it in quite some time, although I still remembered a few moments back when I had first caught it on the local indie channel. Such moments as Tunnel Rat bustin' out of the side of some worm-creature that had just swallowed him moments earlier, and the new head heavy (Golobulus, voiced by a guy who starred in the REAL story of G.I. Joe several decades prior) gettin' stabbed in his big ol' eyeball (the actual act was depicted from a distance, so it wasn't too gory). Yeah, yeah, I know-- "why do you only remember the movie's more disgusting scenes?" you're askin' yourself. What, did'ja think I was gonna fondly recall the cohesive plot, the plausible story line, and the Oscar-worthy performances? Gimme a freakin' break!
Anyhoo, I found myself geekin big-time to the opening credits sequence (sans credits) featuring the Joes defending the Statue of Liberty against a Cobra assault. If you've never seen the series this mo-pic was based on, this moment alone is a wonderful showcase of the show's most notable idiosyncrasies, including lotsa explosions & destruction, near-misses, brief fist fights, and some spectacular property damage... with nary a fatality in sight. Kinda like 'The A-Team', only with slightly more believable storylines and characters. Throw in appearances by just about all the notable Joe & Cobra characters (three-fourths of whom either won't show up again for the rest of the movie or have brief non-speaking appearances), the usual dumb plot by Cobra Commander to 'send a message' to his foes (an attempt to blow up the Statue of Liberty) whilst going way overboard on the use of equipment and personnel to convey this message, and a good @$$-kickin' on the enemy by our heroes. Top it all off with a corny yet oddly catchy extended rendition of the G.I. Joe theme song that plays throughout this skirmish, and you've got the basic format of just about every 'Joe 'toon ever made. Weird thing is, I could watch just this scene alone several times in a row without tirin' of it... and I usually do. Sometimes without even bothering to watch the rest of the show...
While I found G.I. Joe: The Movie's animation quite good (though not quite up to the level of the TransFormers flick), and the plot pretty decent for all its silly cartoon cheesiness (gaping plot holes, unbelievable escapes, blatant disregard for the laws of physics, etc), there were a few characters that hit the red zone of my annoy-o-meter. Take Sgt. Slaughter, for example: here he proved that, as loud and obnoxious as he was when he was doin' his pre-match interviews for the WWF, he's even LOUDER and MORE OBNOXIOUS whilst voicing his animated persona, known as... er, Sgt. Slaughter. Okay, so his role here wasn't much of a stretch-- big whoop. Fortunately, he gets a few finishing moves in on one of the Cobra-La bad@$$es near the end, which looked more realistic than the ones he had in his live-action repertoire. Another pesty denizen of this notable 'toon-flick is the b-ball-jerseyed Big Lob, whose play-by-play banter made me long for the gushings of the original March Madman Dick Vitale.
Also included amongst this action epic is the unmasking of Cobra Commander after he gets hit with some mutated spores that gradually turn him into a (surprise!) snake. Sadly, I found this moment a bit of a letdown; in my opinion, they should'a kept the devious former Cobra leader's facial appearance a secret. I mean, ya never saw what Snake Eyes, Orko, or Dr. Claw looked like underneath their disguises, didja? Oh wait, they put out an action figure of Dr. Claw some time back that revealed his countenance (www.midnightsociety.com/web/Finds/Shopping/Drclaw/DrClaw.html), didn't they? Eh, strike that last one, then...
But for all the silliness that goes on in the movie, the most amusing part of this DVD is the selection of those immortal public service announcements that popped up just before closing credits roll in each episode to help assuage parents' concerns about the show bein' not much more than a half-hour-long toy commercial (yeah, RIGHT...). Speakin' of commercials, this DVD also features a couple classic G.I. Joe toy ads from the 60s, both of which I found kinda neat despite their relatively primitive look. But, back to the PSAs: each one features one of the Joes layin' down such wisdom to the kiddies as keepin' away from downed power lines, not approaching stray dogs, and bein' sure to plan ahead, all in quick & easy to digest clips. The ending line that graces each one of these PSAs is the reason why your mid-twenty-something-to-early-thirty-something co-worker always replies, "And knowing is half the battle!" every time you say "I know", or some variation thereof. 'Course, bein' the inquisitive type I was, every time I heard this phrase I'd immediately start wonderin' what the OTHER half of the battle was. I'd also be wonderin' why the G.I. Joe tag line is "A real American hero" when the toys were made in China and the movie's animation was done in Japan. I guess I'm just a stickler for irony...