G.I. Joe - DVD Battles: Pyramid of Darkness (Mania.com)

By:Kurt Anthony Krug
Review Date: Tuesday, July 21, 2009


For the children of the 1980s who rushed home from school every day to see the G.I. Joe cartoon and stage mega-battles with their action figures, Hasbro must’ve had you in mind when it came up with this product, complete with a DVD of the cartoon and toys.
            You’ll laugh and cringe at some of the bad dialogue (“vibrating like a $50 milkshake” and “What this doesn’t look like is good” – ouch) and unrealistic elements of the 5-part Pyramid of Darkness mini-series, where the Joes split off into different groups to foil Cobra’s latest nefarious plan. This time around, those snakes plan on controlling the world’s electricity with the Joe team’s space station at the nexus point, where team leader Duke (why wasn’t General Hawk, a founding Joe, in the early seasons of this cartoon?), Scarlett, Dusty, Mutt, and other Joes are located (and eventually captured).
            Zartan hijacks the station by siccing Fatal Fluffies on the Joes. Really! They’re the cutest little things this side of the Ewoks, but once you blow a whistle, they mutate into mean, tall, horned Chewbacca-like monsters.
            Meanwhile, Snake-Eyes and Shipwreck, along with their pets (Timber the wolf and Polly the parrot, respectively) split off from the rest of the team and are pursued by Cobra agents. They meet a singer named Satin, who helps them. There’s a funny scene where Satin gets the two up on the stage as part of her kick-line. Then, Snake-Eyes really busts a move by break-dancing. Yes, break-dancing! And the hell of it? He’s good. You can tell this was made in the mid-1980s.
            Wait! It gets better! From there, he and Shipwreck travel incognito and Snake-Eyes gets the dress. Shipwreck looks like a poor man’s George Michael and Snake-Eyes is a cross between Boy George and Cyndi Lauper (he wears the gaudy clothes over his black head-to-toe combat gear). You don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Polly the parrot gets annoying. The bird saves the duo’s butts a few times, most notably by getting them past the guards by saying, “Cobra Commander! The great snake rules forever!” Polly and Timber also wear sunglasses and dance when their owners put on disguises then fight their way out of a group of Cobra troopers (who, like the Joes, can’t shoot the broadside of the barn, making Storm Troopers look like marksmen).
            Oddly enough, Snake-Eyes – the most popular character in the G.I. Joe canon – didn’t have much of a role on the cartoon as opposed to the starring role he had in the comic (probably because the writers couldn’t do much with a mute character and the audience was little kids). This is one of his very few times in the spotlight in this cartoon. And instead of fighting Storm Shadow, he break-dances and dresses in drag. You’re surprised that the action figure included of the character doesn’t have him in this get-up. Would’ve been funny if it did. Perhaps a mail-order exclusive?
Speaking of Storm Shadow, he gets beaten easily by Quick Kick, who makes his debut (there’s shots of him as a backgrounder in prior scenes before his debut becomes official). Curious, Quick Kick appears in the artic, wearing only pants (he’s shirtless and barefoot), whereas everyone else is in heavy snow gear. Why isn’t he dead via exposure to the elements? A major oversight, that. Nonetheless, he’s quoting John Wayne and that makes up for some of the bad dialogue that’s laden throughout this DVD.
Besides Quick Kick and Snake-Eyes, the other two action figures included are Major Bludd and (hooded) Cobra Commander. This seems appropriate as opposed to The Revenge of Cobra DVD Battle Set. Cobra Commander, voiced by the late Chris Latta (who also did Starscream in sister cartoon Transformers), is played up as an imbecile and used for comic relief  in the cartoon (Larry Hama, Josh Blaylock, and Brandon Jerwa made him much, much more deadlier in the comic book counterpart). How come there wasn’t a Fatal Fluffy action figure?
There’s also a piece of the M.A.S.S. device included in this package, one of the nature-defying machines used in another G.I. Joe mini-series. A piece is included throughout five “DVD Battles” packages. Once you get all five, you can build you own M.A.S.S. device.
            All said and done, this DVD is enjoyable if you check your brain at the door and revel in the nostalgia that is the 1980s.

Mania Grade: B
Toy Line: G.I. Joe
Toy Product: G.I. Joe – DVD Battles: Pyramid of Darkness
Distributor: Hasbro
Includes: Action figures (Snake-Eyes, Quick Kick, Major Bludd, Cobra Commander), Pyramid of Darkness control cube, The Pyramid of Darkness DVD, M.A.S.S. Device piece no. 4 of 5 to build the M.A.S.S. Device (other pieces sold in other DVD Battles).
Suggested Retail: $35.99