G.I. Joe Resolute: Poe’s Review

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(Note: this review contains mild spoilers.)

While I went through most of the other major toy fads of the 1980s–Star Wars, He-Man, Transformers, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles–somehow I never got into G.I. Joe. I often joke that even at that young age I had a healthy distrust of the military-industrial complex, but I think the more honest truth was that I liked giant robots more than soldiers (and science fiction/fantasy more than action/adventure).

And so it was with no nostalgic investment that I took in G.I. Joe: Resolute on Adult Swim this weekend. For the five or six of you who don’t know, Resolute is an hour-long animated film commissioned by Hasbro to be geared specifically toward collectors, featuring more mature themes and–gasp!–actual combat deaths. It was written by popular comics writer Warren Ellis, who’s best known for mature-themed works such as Transmetropolitan. It was directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, whose credits include Justice League Unlimited and Avatar: the Last Airbender.

The 1980s G.I. Joe cartoon was notorious for its lack of casualties, despite all the bullets, lasers and exploding jets featured in every episode. It was also known for the vast, overly-complicated, incredibly expensive, and yet ultimately fruitless plots for world domination concocted by the evil Cobra Commander. Resolute still features the latter, but in saving the day this time around, the Joes (and Cobra) actually have to sacrifice a few good men.

The cartoon was designed as a number of five-minute installments to be viewed online and it shows in the pacing of the hour-long film. There are two main plotlines: Cobra’s attempt to take over the world via a device capable of destroying a city (and Cobra commits its most egregious crime ever in Resolute) and Snake Eyes’s ultimate confrontation with his arch-nemesis Storm Shadow.

Resolute acknowledges the existence of earlier Joe adventures, possibly even the original cartoon itself (at one point, Cobra Commander gives a speech noting how he had deliberately played a fool so as to encourage his subordinates to work harder–not really following the logic there, but it is Cobra Commander after all).

Most of the beloved Joe and Cobra characters show up, with the famous Cobra characters–Destro, the Baroness, Zartan–serving as a sort of “boss” as the Joes try to foil Cobra’s plans at a number of points around the globe. Meanwhile, a number of Joe characters get a chance to shine, including fan favorite Tunnel Rat.

The animation and action is excellent, and the voice work is good, if not quite outstanding.

As for the story…I enjoyed it, but it’s definitely more of the epic, globe-threatening variety found in the cartoon than the smaller-scale, more character-based tales from the comics. One Joe fan I know said Resolute “was certainly better than other GI Joe cartoons I have ever seen, and probably better than the upcoming movie, but still a tad silly.” I think that’s an accurate assessment. I know some fans were hoping for a “realistic,” gritty story of Joe fighting terrorists (as in G.I. Joe: Special Missions). That’s not what Resolute is, and I think it was the right way to go. Making it too realistic could have sapped much of what’s appealing about G.I. Joe and left viewers with little more than an ensemble-cast Rambo flick.

All that said, one thing to keep in mind is that I’m no Joe fan, collector, or historian, so I know nothing about how the characters were treated. The same aforementioned Joe fan gave this mini-review:

Mark Millar would have been a much better choice than Warren Ellis, and he wouldn’t have become a level 3 sex offender in the process. Or it would have been nice to have had somebody with, oh I don’t know, even a PASSING understanding of the GI Joe mythos write the cartoon. Ellis didn’t really reinvent the characters as he just invented them.

And I can’t believe I just invested three whole minutes of my life to analyzing a GI Joe cartoon. I’m punching out. . .

Overall assessment of the film aside, I do think Resolute was a fantastic idea and one I hope Hasbro and other companies follow for other classic properties. It would be great to see a more grown-up take on Masters of the Universe (if that’s possible in a fictional universe that has characters named Buzz-Off and Two-Bad…but I think it is, judging from the 2002 comic books). And I would certainly welcome a Simon Furman-scripted animated alternative to Revenge of the Fallen.

In any event, I suspect many Joe fans have already received their big movie this year. For the rest of us, there’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, due to disappoint in theaters August 7.

22 Comments »

Comments now closed (22)

  • I only consider myself to have a passing understanding of the GI Joe mythos, and I think Ellis did good by the franchise.

  • I thought it was fun, even if they killed a few too many major characters. Any future stories won't be as much fun without Zartan, for example, and some of the deaths felt like they were written more for "we kill characters!" than to improve the story.

  • I was never a huge Joe fan either, I always thought the name was a bit weird, but then here, in the UK, GI Joe was Action Force, like that isn't a daft name.

    My memories come from the UK reprinted comics, we didn't have the cartoon series either, but I loves me some Ellis, so I'd be interested in seeing this.

  • I wouldn't mind a full season of episodes out of this. But after Sigma Six tanked and it looks like the new live action movie won't be doing GI Joe any favors for a new animated series.

  • im kinda with poe here in the sense that i was never into the military aspect,

    but i sure liked snake eyes , storm shadow and the ninja force series when i was little ( the ones with the neon pink packaging that screamed boys action )

    i played the heck outta those…and i've maybe seen a handfull of episodes ( none with snake eyes mind you ) and never read a comic in my life…so resolute was awesome and i think me and marlon waynes are the only 2 people juiced about the movie

  • Resolute was fun but still lacked a lot of things that Joe fans have waited years for. It was basically just a better version of something we already had, as opposed to a dramatically improved version of something we had.

    And I said this before, but most of the deaths were pointless, sans Storm Shadow.

  • Oops, me again.

    Some have suggested that this works as a finale for the original cartoon and I'm willing to follow that path. It can't be the start of something new (it cribs too much from the OT) and it really doesn't have anything in the way of the original comics (sans a couple vague nods) but if you look at it as a balls to the wall finale of the original cartoon… It sort of works.

    The GI Joe Finale, 20 years later.

  • I enjoyed Resolute, and I'd love to see other classic lines like Masters of the Universe,Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles get similar treatment.

  • I liked the animation and was happy with most of the voice actors. I wish it had more of a story though.

  • First and foremost, I'll say I respect Poe's take as well as comments from readers that liked it. However, having a greater knowledge of the comic storyline, I found this take on the story fruitless. Each character seemed to have been "reinvented" for this cartoon. Then again, it did seem to fall in line with the original cartoon in some aspects. In my opinion, it was "ok" in its own right. But still no justice to the franchise as a whole.

  • pardon my lack of knowlegde on the issue but what was with the hinted at but not really scarlett duke and snake eyes love triangle?

    was that in the comics?

  • You sir, are devious, but I guess I deserved that. I'm always available if you need "mini-interviews" from the grumpy old man perspective. . .

    ;p

  • the scarlett/duke/snake eyes love triangle i think was a nod to the fact that in the comics scarlett and snake eyes had a thing whereas in the cartoon it was always hinted that duke and scarlett had eyes for each other.

    i enjoyed it, and i think a lot of the complaining people have is a bit unfounded…i mean a bunch of it is people complaining to complain. as a stand alone series i think resolute is just fine, and it adds a lot that has ALWAYS been missing from joe cartoons.

    i will say that i was quite disappointed by the ending (SPOILER) which wraps everything up a little too easily for my tastes…i mean CC is confident enough that his targeting system is locked so he seals himself in a bunker…then duke taps a few keys and completely alters the target?! i dunno, man…

  • I enjoyed it for what it was, but I am a total Ellis fanboy, and yes, an old-time Joe fan too.

  • Well all my complaints are completely founded.

    LOL

    But really, they are. I enjoyed the Duke/SE/Scarlett thing. It was a neat little nod to the overall grander mythos.

    But Resolute tried a bit too much to have their cake and eat it too, which is probably why some fans complained.

    I was happy to get it and enjoyed it for what it was. I know that abomination of a movie is coming soon, so I thank Hasbro for giving us this as a bit of an apology for the 2 hour raping of my childhood that's coming up.

  • I thought it was great…I just wish it had been longer, or an ongoing series of about 30 epidoes. As I said I thought it was great…if only they could do it for Transformers and Masters of the Universe….I only have two little complaints…firstly, the voice work, whilst not bad a lot of characters sounded very similar and secondly that the characters were in their iconic original outfits.

    I grew uk nowing it as Action Force as well and liked a the few episodes I saw…really liked the comics here in the UK which were included with the Transformers comic here in the UK.

    The resolute figures look great.

  • Yeah, I liked it, and I'm not a huge old-school Joe fan: I watched the cartoon occasionally and read the comic pretty regularly for a while. Barring something amazing, I probably liked Resolute more than I'm going to like the movie, but that's a safe bet.

  • The movie will just be like Transformers the movie (Michael Bay)….who knows maybe it will be good, but it'll have to be really good to be better than Resolute.

    I don't see why they messed up the movie costumes like something from x-men and the character looks, first Ripchord is black, Roadblock has a crew cut, Storm Shadow has sneakers.

    My main problem with the film is Cobra Commander, firstly Joseph Gorden Levit is an odd choice, secondly is his costume. They can't let him where his hood as allegedly it looks to much like a KKK hood and would frighten the audience so instead they went for a look like something out of a (crap) horror/ sci-fi film. If the film wants to be realistic they should just have went for the KKK look….a mad man/ nazi with a blue uniform and KK hood is more believable than some…whatever.

  • I'm so sick of the "raped my childhood" thing or rape as a metaphor for not liking a cartoon a movie.