Directed by Don Jurwich
The ancient civilization of Cobra-La makes itself known and not only that it was behind the creation of Serpentor (Richard Gautier) but that it was behind the founding of Cobra. Now the combined forces of Cobra and Cobra-La plan to unleash a mutating spore upon the earth with the aid of the Broadcast Energy Transmitter and G.I. Joe must rally to stop them.
Another extended toy commercial from the 80s. Say what you will, most of the shows from that time were pretty good despite being toy commercials and the original G.I. Joe animated series was no different. This film is perhaps one of the more trippy G.I. Joe stories from the time as well as serving as sort of a series finale for the original run.
I love secret civilization stories. Something threatening humanity that has remained hidden for so long always pulls me in. And this is no different. Here Cobra-La was an ancient civilization that preceded humanity but was devastated by the Ice Age into being only fraction of their former greatness and living in caves in the Himalayas. Their organic-based technology is in sharp contrast to the technology that humanity uses, and part of their motivation is that contrast.
Rather than established characters, the film focuses on newer characters as the multi-part television episodes did with the central one being Lt. Falcon (voiced by Don Johnson) who is Duke’s (voiced by Michael Bell) younger and irresponsible half-brother. The usual dynamic of big brother protecting baby brother is implied here and you even get the feeling that Falcon made it into G.I. Joe based on family and not so much so on being the best of the best.
His supporting cast are a group of rough around the edges G.I. Joe candidates being whipped into shape by Sgt. Slaughter (voiced by, well, Sgt. Slaughter). Sgt. Slaughter was always put forth as a tougher than tough nearest to superhuman drill sergeant. During the series that never quite materialized but here I think it was finally realized. All he lacked was a cape and he would be Superman.
We get some new villains here. Golobulus (voiced by the late, great Burgess Meredith) is the leader of the hidden empire of Cobra-La. He spends most of the movie riding around inside of this floating ball creature with flitting tentacles. There is Nemesis Enforcer (voiced by the legendary Peter Cullen) who is a bat winged hulking brute with little real intelligence. And then there is the assassin Pythona (Jennifer Darling) who tries to kill Serpentor.
This is yet another super weapon story and there is nothing wrong with that. It is the only way to go big with this concept. It was a mistake that the live action G.I. Joe movies made. They went with a cool weapon and intrigue-heavy handed as it may have been. You can only tell an effective story with a large cast with a threat that forces them to function together.
The battles are great and much weirder than in other G.I. Joe series entries. G.I. Joe up to that point traditionally fought Cobra and shot down their planes or blew up their tanks or whatever but here they are fighting worms and snakes and get shot down by rapidly growing plants which harkens back to plants that Roadblock encountered way back in the pilot miniseries.
The story is pretty good and the action is exciting. It is a good finale for the original series run as well as being an interesting slice of mid-80s children’s entertainment.