Every once in a while, we get surprises in the disc review world. I had reviewed the first volume of G.I. Joe Renegades on DVD and found it the best G.I. Joe series since the original. The cartoon only lasted a season and I secretly wished for a blu-ray of the complete season though I was pretty convinced it would never get made (and certainly not make it to my door). But lo and behold, it actually did. Furthermore, it looks impressive. Let’s take a look inside shall we?
(Some of this review is borrowed from my Season 1, Volume 1 review)
Cobra Industries is here to help the world by providing products that every man, woman and child can enjoy. They provide helpful pharmaceuticals to the world, they even bake a tasty apple pie. Cobra is so involved in the everyday activities that it is hard for anybody to imagine their lives without them. This explains why they are the perfect corporation to house a lot of secrets and have a very heavily armed security force. The more you know (rainbow flies across the screen).
Meanwhile, we join a military based where Sergeant “Duke” Conrad Hauser is being introduced to his new team of soldiers. They include Corporal Marvin “Roadblock” Hinton, a mechanic and heavy weapons expert as well as Nicky “Tunnel Rat” Lee, a medic and bomb disposal expert. In addition, they have a new private named Wallace Weems who is a very handy paratrooper (and responsible for the nicknames of the group). The four also have a female in their midst, Shana “Scarlett” O’Hara, a military intelligence officer.
Incidentally, Scarlett dubs Wallace as “Ripcord” shortly after that and the name sticks. The first mission for the group is to visit one of Cobra’s pharmaceutical plants. However, once they get there, the group of soliders is informed that this is a spy mission and they need to uncover some of the secrets that the military believes is going on. This does not go as well as planned however when they find themselves on the opposite end of laser fire. However, it appears that Scarlett does have a very powerful friend by the name of Snake Eyes.
The team is able to survive the volley and as they stride deeper into the plant. There they will find a scientist by the name of Brian Bender (Dr. Mindbender) who turns a series of Bio-Monsters (think giant goop monsters) against them. Again, the team survives but not without a casualty. The rest of the team now find themselves labeled and framed as renegades. They are on the run with their lives and honor at stake. They not only have to fight the forces of Cobra Industries but find themselves on the defense from a group of military officers known as the Falcons. Can these ordinary joes survive?
This is certainly a different take on the classic G.I. Joe story. It used to be that G.I. Joe was a special military force and Cobra was a bunch of terrorists. That dynamic is changed almost 180 degrees which makes a lot of sense when we think of big business and corporations often controlling large faucets of our lives. They make for the perfect evil force which is shaped to be Cobra Industries. Another thing I liked was there were a lot of familiar faces on both the Joes side as well as Cobra.
On the cobra side, in addition to Mindbender, we get the Baroness, Destro, the Twins (Xamot/Tomax), Major Bludd, Storm Shadow, Cobra Commander and even one of my personal favorites, Zartan. We get to see some interesting characters on the military side too including Flint, Lady Jaye and Wild Bill (think helicopter pilot). It is really a great cast when you think about it and it creates a nice continuing story, something that was missing a lot of the time during the original show. It isn’t just one battle after another, we get developing plot lines and it is very refreshing.
In addition, it should be mentioned that I really like the idea of a team of joes against the world. As I watch this show, I start to wonder if I am watching a cartoon that mixed G.I. Joe and the A-Team. It bears some resemblance for sure. I was half expecting Duke to smoke a cigar (if it was actually PC to see in cartoons these days) and talk about how he loves when a plan comes together. Also, if Roadblock isn’t a spitting image of B.A. Baracus, I do not know what is.
The video is in 1.78 Widescreen presentation in 1080P. The style is comparable to recent superhero cartoons and is mostly 2-d animation with an occasional splash of something in pure CGI to emphasize a certain scene. All of the characters look pretty good with the exception of Duke who was a little too much on the anime side. Scenery is usually well done and locales appeared different from each other rather than attempting the same color palette every time.
For the audio portion, we get a 5.1 English DTS-HD track (2.0 PCM Stereo track also included). The dvd was already pretty darn impressive, and the jump to lossless audio is even more noticeable in pure power. Dialog is crystal clear and sound effects have reached the level of a medium budget action flic that spent a lot of money on the flashy surrounds. Bullets pierce, punches fly and plenty of stuff blows up. Seriously, I have a hard time believing that the next live action G.I. Joe will even compare.
- Automatic Trailers: G.I. Joe: Original Series, Transformers Prime Season One and Transformers Prime: One Shall Stand
- Commentaries : (See below for complete guide): There are eight commentaries in all and they present a revolving door of crew members. Due to the large number of participants, it really allows for a locker room feel and a ton of information from a variety of angles. However, the minus here is that they really a consistent moderator to keep the group focused. Despite that, there are still some really fun commentaries contained here.
- Original Featurette 11:02: This is also in DTS-HD which is nice for an extra. It starts with a few clips for the series and then moves right to a history lesson and the voice cast and crew talk about their own personal experience. It is nice to know that I was not the only one who came up with scenarios for my figures. After the history lesson, they go straight into some character and story portrayal. We get some weapon and vehicle tech as well. Pretty awesome to see they involved just about everybody voice cast or crew in this featurette. Of course, I wanted more, but it is excellent for the time we get.
- A Tribute to Clement Sauve 4:01: Clement is a Canadian artist who designed many of the characters in the show. This looks to be from one of the comic con panels mixed in with sketches. And then we go straight into remembrance from some of the crew of this excellent artist. Very touching. He was only 34 when he passed from a very quick and deadly cancer. Certain to be missed.
The Descent Part 1: Jeff Kline, Henry Gilroy, Mike Vogel and Therese Trujillo
The Descent Part 2: Jeff Kline, Marty Isenberg, Ted Biaselli and Randy Myers
Return of the Arashikage, Part 1: Greg Johnson, Randy Myers, Starr Parodi and Jeff Fair
Return of the Arashikage, Part 2: Kevin Altieri, Patrick Archibald, Kenny McGill and Tim Wolkiewicz
Busted: Scooter Tidwell, Armen Mirzaian, Jerry Regan, and April Eriksson.
Castle Destro: Nathan Chew, Steve Jones, David Fain and Henry Gilroy
Union of the Snake: Scott Bean, Will Ruzicha, Edgar Carlos and Steve Jones
Revelations, Part 2: Commentary with Marty Isenberg, Ginny McSwain, Charlie Schlatter and Natalia Cigliuti.
As mentioned in my first review, there are no plans for future episodes of G.I. Joe Renegades which is really a shame. It’s a darn good series, seriously it made me actually like G.I. Joe for the first time in a couple of decades (well the first live action film was not too bad either). Now it is available in spectacular blu-ray and this becomes a fitting memento that hopefully gets a cult following and maybe a comeback on a different network at the very least.
This is another solid outing for Shout Factory with superb production on 1080p video and DTS-HD audio. The extras are not overwhelming but they are a very good compliment with strong commentaries and a couple of heartfelt commentary. I probably sound like a fanboy to some extent but I can not recommend this set enough. Hopefully, Shout Factory decides to do more blu-rays of animated shows, this one shows that they are a great value with plenty of meaty content. Enjoy.
The Descent, Part 1
The Descent, Part 2
Return of the Arashikage, Part 1
Return of the Arashikage, Part 2
The Enemy of My Enemy
Homecoming, Part 1
Homecoming, Part 2
Brothers of Light
Union of the Snake
The Anaconda Strain
Revelations, Part 1
Revelations, Part 2