The "Real American Heroes" collectively known as G.I. Joe have left the tried-and-true world of 2D animation behind them and boldly entered the perilous realm of CGI. The fun begins when Dr. Mindbender dispatches a gang of flying robotic spiders to the Washington zoo to collect a DNA sample from a foul-tempered grizzly bear. The following morning, after an embarrassing paintball defeat in New Jersey's Tall Tree Park, General Hawk is taken hostage by the Baroness and a somewhat ridiculous looking Destro. Afterwards, Hi-Tech tosses Duke the General's Gauntlet--a revolutionary new communication device worn on the wrist and forearm--and the President informs the acting G.I. Joe team leader of a series of mass kidnappings around the world. Being the brilliant military strategist that he is, Duke quickly figures out that these mysterious abductions, Hawk's disappearance, and the animal DNA collections by the metallic airborne arachnids are all connected. The true horror of Cobra's latest evil plan for total global domination is soon revealed as we catch up with bad ol' Cobra Commander at his bioresearch facility (codename: Viper Pit) in Antarctica. The mirror-faced Commander has obviously been watching a lot of Seinfeld reruns since we last saw him, as he has developed a fondness for the phrase, "Yada yada yada." With Hawk hooked up to a Brainwave Scanner and chastising himself for eating too many spicy burritos before bedtime, Dr. Mindbender and his not-so-loyal android assistant, Overkill, give the captured General a frightening demonstration of the gruesome power of Venom--a neon-green mist that can turn mild-mannered human civilians into beastly mutant warriors. Before you can say "YO JOE," Duke has rallied his troops--including Scarlett, Dusty, Gung-Ho, Wild Bill, Flint, Frostbite and Tunnel Rat...among others--and together they embark on a do-or-die mission to find and rescue General Hawk and, hopefully, thwart the maniacally silly Commander's fiendish plot to turn all of Earth's citizens into feral Venomized soldiers.
Although it certainly doesn't compare to the greatness of the classic 1980's series, `Valor verses Venom' is a surprisingly enjoyable new adventure with a generous helping of nostalgia thrown in to satisfy Sunbow fans. The plot is very reminiscent of the Serpentor saga, and several familiar characters are prominently featured--albeit with different voices. Some new characters are obviously based on old characters. Slice and Slash talk in unison, ala Tomax and Xamot, and Heavy Duty is probably related to Roadblock. The CGI work falls far short of Pixar standards--clothing looks heavy and overly textured, faces look like rubber, and all the females are kind of ugly with hair that resembles fat strands of yarn--but the vehicles and backgrounds look great and everything is very colorful and meticulously detailed. Ninja aficionados will be enthralled by duels between the legendary Snake Eyes and his perpetual nemesis, Storm Shadow...as well as the anime-esque subplot involving the golden-hooded Kamakura and his uncooperative mystic sword, the Tatsu Ashi (a.k.a. Dragon's Tooth). And exciting action scenes like the thrilling motorcycle chase over the rooftops of the Joes' Command Center and Kamakura's subsequent slow-motion attack on a Night Adder are sure to please. Plus, there's plenty of delightfully corny dialogue like: "Overkill's gone MAD!" "Well, at least he isn't boring."
The valorous/venomous disc comes equipped with an arsenal of interesting extras, such as: a `Making Of' featurette; drawing board to film comparison; a music video; and an in-depth guide to the wildly popular G.I. Joe trading card game. The back of the case lists a PG rating but I'd call this a G `cause there's no blood or bad language, just some good old fashioned red and blue laser beams. Order your copy ASAP. Yo Adrian...I mean, JOE!
"I will never leave you to fend for yourself. Trust me to stand behind you. I'm your glory unseen."
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