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Paramount Studios presents
G.I. Joe: Valor Vs. Venom (2004)

Link: There's no base out here.
Scarlett: Link, I said it was a "secret" base.

- Joe May, Lisa Ann Betsy

Review By: Nate Meyers  
Published: September 14, 2004

Stars: John Payne, Michael Dobson, Mark Hildrath, Joe May, Kevin Ohjitsu
Other Stars: Jim Foranda, Andy Torn, Frank Salazar, Scott McNeil, Lisa Ann Betsy, Blu Mankuma, Colin Murdock, Lee Tackai, Teryl Rothers, Ty Olsson, Phil Hayes
Director: Dale Carman

MPAA Rating: PG for action violence
Run Time: 01h:17m:29s
Release Date: September 14, 2004
UPC: 097368778849
Genre: animation


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B B-A-A- B-

DVD Review

The top secret special forces branch of the U.S. military is back and fully integrated into the cutting edge CGI age. G.I. Joe: Valor Vs. Venom, the new made-for-video movie, brings back some of the old Saturday morning cartoon's trademark characters, along with some new ones, to once again defend America and the free world from the evil Cobra Organization. This adventure is loaded with plenty of thrills and a fast-paced storytelling that make it an enjoyable ride, even if the dialogue is entirely expositional.

While the members of G.I. Joe are off on a charitable exercise, Cobra's forces are kidnapping large populations of adults from around the world. It appears that Cobra Commander (voiced by Michael Dobson) is engaged in some sinister activity that will combine animal DNA with humans, though the men and women at G.I. Joe are not entirely certain what for. Things get worse for freedom loving citizens when G.I. Joe's beloved General Hawk (Phil Hayes) is kidnapped by the villainous Baroness (Teryl Rothers) and Destro (Scott McNeil). Fortunately for Hawk, his tough-as-nails subordinate, Duke (John Payne), organizes the troops on a quest to save him that will go into the seas, through the jungles, across the desert, and atop the ice of Antarctica.

As it turns out, Cobra's top scientist, Dr. Mindbender (Jim Foranda) has created the technology he believes will turn the tide in the ongoing war with G.I. Joe. They are planning to use the kidnapped civilians as a new kind of super-soldier that has been genetically engineered with the DNA of alpha animals. Now that Cobra has kidnapped General Hawk, they have a natural born leader for their army—well, they will once he is injected. Despite his best efforts, Duke is too late and the procedure goes according to plan. Hawk is converted into Venomous Maximus (now voiced by Frank Salazar), who becomes a major problem for not only G.I. Joe, but for Cobra as well.

The rest of the movie is a struggle for G.I. Joe to stop Cobra and retrieve their lost general. Luckily, a former Navy SEAL turned veterinarian, Link (Joe May), is working with them to find an anecdote. The idea of a former Navy SEAL being a vet may be a stretch for adults, but it should play well with kids. However, some of the other characters may not relate to today's youth. When the G.I. Joe TV show originally aired, America's youth had an immense fascination with Ninjas—a trend that appears to be in hibernation today. As a consequence, the storyline that follows Snake Eyes (the mute Ninja master who was once a member of Cobra) and his apprentice, Kamakura (Kevin Ohjitsu), may not play well to kids. If this is the case, it'll be a shame because the character of Kamakura is the only one that actually has a character arc (as predictable as it is, it actually is rather entertaining to see him grow into the role of a Ninja).

The story for G.I. Joe: Valor Vs. Venom is completely preposterous, but the energy of the storytelling more than makes up for it. The visuals and camera moves feel like they come from a video game, which means that the viewer is likely to get a visceral experience that places him right into the middle of the action. Parents can rest assured that the action here is good-natured romp, containing a minimal amount of on screen violence and certainly nothing that is graphic. The transfer is strong, with vibrant colors and no evidence of compression artifacts. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is full of fun gimmicks, with a nice punch from the surround speakers. Sound effects are well balanced throughout, with a lot of sound separation and directionality.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno
Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes
Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Spongebob Square Pants Movie, TransFormers: Energon, Duel Masters DVD & VHS, Spongebob Square Pants: Season 2 DVD & VHS, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius DVD & VHS)
1 Featurette(s)
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 00h:45m:34s

Extra Extras:
  1. G.I. Joe Trading Card Game Guidea video guide that explains the rules and strategies of the playing card game.
  2. Key Character Profilesa selection of key characters, giving their history and a vital statistics.
Extras Review: The extra features for this DVD are primarily geared towards children. First up is a G.I. Joe Trading Card Game Guide (19m:33s) video that goes into tremendous detail about the different functions of each card and how to play the game. An uncredited man and the Cobra Commander narrate the guide, plus there is a demonstration of the game. Next is G.I. Joe: Valor Vs. Venom: Making the Movie (10m:55s), which contains interviews with the animators and director Dale Carman. For the most part this is just a collection of men sitting at desks as they tweak their animation, as well as clips from the movie. There are a couple of interesting comments, especially by one of the animators who grew up watching the cartoon show.

There also are character profiles of numerous Cobra and G.I. Joe characters that feature the vital statistics and a brief biography of each selected character. Following that is a Drawing Board-to-Film Comparison on select shots, showcasing the transformation from storyboard to animatic to finished product. In addition to these features is a musical video (3m:43s) of the song that plays during the closing credits (the title is never given) that is composed entirely of clips from the movie. Finally, there are six trailers. The first is the original trailer for G.I. Joe: Valor Vs. Venom, presented in 1.78:1 widescreen and with Dolby Stereo sound. Accompanying that trailer is the teaser trailer for The Spongebob Square Pants Movie in 1.85:1 widescreen, TransFormers: Energon in 1.33:1 full screen, the DVD trailer for Duel Masters in 1.33:1 full screen, another DVD trailer for Spongebob Square Pants: Season 2 in 1.33:1 full screen, and finally The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius DVD and VHS set (again in 1.33:1 full screen). All of the trailers are in Dolby Stereo, but feel superfluous. On the other hand, it's rather surprising that there are this many features for a straight to video release.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

Kids, particularly young boys, should enjoy this newest chapter in the G.I. Joe saga. Adults might find it to be too similar to a video game, but it provides a good amount of excitement in a non-graphic manner that will make for nice viewing on a rainy day. The sound mix and image transfer are solid and the extras are better than one would expect.

 


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