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G.I. Joe Renegades: The Complete First Season (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 3, 2012 by  



Exciting, fresh and different kind of storyline for “G.I. Joe” fans, “G.I. Joe Renegades: The Complete First Season″ on Blu-ray is definitely recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: G.I. Joe Renegades: The Complete First Season

YEAR OF TELEVISED AIR DATE: 2011

DURATION: 26 episodes (9.5 hours)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround, PCM 2.0 Stereo

COMPANY: Hasbro Studios/Shout! Factory

RATED: PG-13 (For Sexual Content, Some Crude Humor and Brief Drug Use)

RELEASE DATE: September 25, 2012

Directed by Randy Myers, Kevin Altieri, Scott Bern, nathan Chew, Scooter Tidwell

Written by Henry Gilroy, Marty Isenberg, Greg Johnson, Greg Johnson, Stan Berkowitz, Eugene Son, Dean Stefan, Alexx Van Dyne

Executive Producer: Stephen Davis, Jeff Kline

Line Producer: Phil S. Crain

Consulting Producer Therese Trujillo

Music by Jeff Eden Fair, Starr Parodi

Featuring the voices of:

Jason Marsden as Duke

Matthew Yang King as Tunnel Rat

Kevin Michael Richardson as Roadblock

Natalia Cigliuti as Scarlett

David Kaye as Narrator

Tatyana Yassukovich as Baroness

Charles Adler as Cobra Commander

Charlie Schlatter as Dr. Mindbender

Nika Futterman as Lady Jaye

Johnny Messner as Flint

Khary Payton as Ripcord

Andrew Kishino as Storm Shadow

Clancy Brown as Destro

Kim Mai Guest as Jinx

Danny Cooksey as Young Snake Eyes

Keone Young as Hard Master

Brian Bloom as Zartan

Lee Majors as General Abernathy

Andre Sogliuzzo as Major Bludd

Stephen Stanton as Tomax

Greg Ellis as Breaker

When a spy mission against Cobra Industries goes awry, a group of young G.I. JOEs is forced to hit the road as fugitives. Now the team members (Duke, Scarlett, Roadblock, Tunnel Rat, Ripcord and Snake Eyes) must use their wits and elite training to prove their innocence to the world before being caught by the authorities, Cobra or another elite military team called the Falcons.

With exciting, action-packed storytelling, spectacular animation and incredible voice talent (including appearances by Clancy Brown (Carnivàle), Michael Emerson (Lost), Phil LaMarr (MADtv), Peter MacNicol (Ghostbusters II) and Lee Majors (The Six Million Dollar Man) G.I. JOE Renegades is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your sea.

“G.I. Joe: Renegades” is the latest action series from Hasbro Studios.

And similar to their successful “Transformers” series which features the main characters in different storylines with each series release, Hasbro Studios follows a similar trend after the TV series “G.I. Joe: Sigma Six” and the more adult-themed series “G.I. Joe: Resolute”.

While G.I. Joe has been a successful toyline since 1964 with its 12 -inch figure lineup, it wasn’t until the “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero” 3.75 action figures were released that many children would flock to the toys and purchase the action figures, vehicles and playsets, thanks in part to the Marvel Comics comic-book series and the animated series which would begin in 1985.

Possibly the most unique aspect of G.I. Joe, unlike it’s Hasbro counterpart with “Transformers and “Star Wars” is that, while those series continues to attract a demographic of all ages, “G.I. Joe” is one of the most unique series where its collectors are adults who grew up with the “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero” toys from its 1982 release or its re-appearance in the ’90s.

And while those who grown up with the toyline have introduced it to their children, many adults continue to show their passion for the toys and the animated series on forums and even a convention dedicate to G.I. Joe fans.

And with the second live action movie, “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” about to make its release (including the toyline), what better time than to get the children acquainted with the series and also get excited for the movie by releasing “G.I. Joe: Renegades” on DVD.  Shout! Factory will be releasing the first half of episodes “G.I. Joe: Renegades: Season 1, Volume 1″ in June 2012.

“G.I. Joe: Renegades” is possibly the most unique G.I. Joe storyline so far.  Mainly because the series begins with the Cobra Industries being seen as the good guys, while a small group of military officers from The Falcons form “G.I. Joe” which is led by Lt. Shana “Scarlett” O’Hara (previous series had featured Duke as the main leader of the team) and when things go wrong with an explosion at Cobra Industries, G.I. Joe is blamed for it.

The group is now wanted by the government and are being pursued not only by Cobra Industries but also by the Falcons.  The series focuses on the group as they visit different areas while they are on the run and trying to clear their names.

Only 26-episodes were created in the series and while the DVD version is split into two volume DVD releases, the Blu-ray release contains all 26 episodes from season 1.

“G.I. Joe: Renegades” focuses on the adventures of the following members:

  • Duke (Sgt. Conrad Hauser) – A military officer who puts his teams safety first and is always willing to help people.  While Lt. Shana “Scarlett” O’Hara is the high ranking officer in charge of the group, because of his experience and many respect him, Duke is the team’s de facto leader.
  • Snake Eyes – A ninja who has a mysterious connection with Scarlett.  He wears a mask and does not speak, due to the severe injuries he received after an altercation with ninja, Storm Shadow and a situation that happened in his past.
  • Scarlett (Lt. Shana “Scarlett” O’Hara) – A military intelligence officer and the high ranking officer responsible for G.I. Joe.  She is excellent with computers and has a mysterious connection to Snake Eyes.  She was also trained by Snake Eyes.  She feels responsible for G.I. Joe becoming fugitives.
  • Roadblock (Cpl. Marvin Hinton) – Known for his expertise in heavy artillery, he loves heavy metal and singing loud.
  • Tunnel Rat (Private First Class Nicky Lee) – The team medic and EOD (bomb disposal) specialist.  Loves crawling in tunnels and sewers and is familiar with soil, insects and plants.  A Chinese-American who is very sarcastic.
  • Ripcord (Private Wallace Weems) – Smart mouthed paratrooper who runs into major trouble in the first episode of the series.

Here is a brief spoiler-less summary of each episode of “G.I. Joe: Renegades″:

  • EPISODE 1 – The Descent, Part 1 – A new group consisting of military officers of the Falcons are on a mission and are known as G.I. Joe, their job…to investigate Cobra Pharmaceuticals.
  • EPISODE 2 – The Descenet, Part 2 – After an explosion at Cobra Pharmaceuticals, the media has branded G.I. Joe as renegades and are now fugitives that must be captured.  Meanwhile, Flint, the leader of the Falcons is in charge of capturing G.I. Joe.
  • EPISODE 3 – Rage – Tunnel Rat is kidnapped by Cobra Industries Scrap-Iron and is being used for testing on a suit made for James McCullen and M.A.R.S. Industries.
  • EPISODE 4 – Dreadnoks Rising – G.I. Joe are now in a Kansas town where people are being terrorized by Zartan and the Dreadnoks.  The group try to help the locals.
  • EPISODE 5 – The Package – The Baroness wants mercenary Major Bludd to assassinate a former Cobra employee, a man who goes by the name of “Breaker”.
  • EPISODE 6 – Return of the Arashikage, Part 1 – The group stays at Snake Eyes dojo where they meet his first apprentice Jinx and learn about his connection to Storm Shadow.
  • EPISODE 7 – Return of the Arashikage, Part 2– Snake Eyes and G.I. Joe go after Storm Shadow who has kidnapped Jinx.
  • EPISODE 8 – Busted – Duke is wrongfully imprisoned and G.I. Joe must break him out of prison.
  • EPISODE 9 – The Enemy of My Enemy – The Joes infiltrate a Cobra stronghold, meanwhile Cobra unveils Cobra Commander and Destro.
  • EPISODE 10 – Fire Fight – Cobra gives orders to Firefly to burn a resort town, meanwhile G.I. Joe and a firefighter named Barbecue try to stop him.
  • EPISODE 11 – Homecoming, Part 1 – Duke’s family is being targeted by Cobra and we learn about the past between Duke and Flint.
  • EPISODE 12 – Homecoming, Part 2 – With a few of the Joes captured by Flint, the remaining Joes have been branded “Springfield Four”.  Meanwhile, Storm Shadow returns.
  • EPISODE 13 – Brothers of Light – Tomax and Xamot disguise themselves as the Brothers of Light, spiritual healers.
  • EPISODE 14 – Knockoffs – Flint and Lady Jaye release Zartan from prison in hopes he will help them track down the Joes. But when Zartan uses Baroness’ camouflage suit to escape, the Joes and Falcons team up alongside Wild Bill to search for Zartan.
  • EPISODE 15 – White Out –  Dr. Mindbender creates prototype “Shadow-Vipers”.
  • EPISODE 16 – Shipwrecked – Hector “Shipwreck” Delgado helps the Joes transport a canister containing a prototype Techno-Viper stolen from the Cobra lab to Washington D.C. in order to show proof that Cobra Industries are working on illegal activities.
  • EPISODE 17 – Castle Destro – The Joes are trapped in Destro’s castle.
  • EPISODE 18 – Union of the Snake – The Joes decide to crash a communications summit held by the Baroness.
  • EPISODE 19 – The Anaconda Strain – The Joes uncover a deadly virus known as the Anaconda Strain.
  • EPISODE 20 – Prodigal – The Joes raid a Cobra medical facility to search for a Patient X, but they soon find out, it’s a person they know quite well.
  • EPISODE 21 – The Anomaly – Dr. Mindbender goes to work on another human/Bio-Viper hybrid.
  • EPISODE 22 – Cutting Edge – Scarlett and Snake Eyes sneak into Cobra Commander’s secret facility.  Who is the mysterious ninja that has attacked Cobra Commander’s home?
  • EPISODE 23 – Cousins – Flint hires Corporal Hershel Dalton a.k.a. Heavy Duty to apprehend his cousin Roadblock.
  • EPISODE 24 – Going Underground – The Joes investigate a series of earthquakes caused by Cobra’s massive drilling excavator.
  • EPISODE 25 – Revelations, Part 1 – Scarlett learns the truth about her father.
  • EPISODE 26 – Revelations, Part 2 – The Joes take on Cobra Industries head on.

VIDEO:

“G.I. Joe: Renegades: The Complete First Season” is presented in 1080p High Definition, 1:78:1 aspect ratio.  The picture quality is actually noticeable on Blu-ray compared to its DVD counterpart.  Sharper, vibrant colors when it comes to reds.  More clarity can be seen in the overall animation.

I have to admit that I was not exactly captivated by the new look of G.I. Joe in “Renegades” as it was a major departure compared to the original and also “Sigma 6” and “Renegades”.  In some way, it reminded me of a Japanese anime style used in the series “Hakkenden” but then I started to appreciate the look because it was different.  I figured with a storyline that was so different from any other storyline in the series, why not have a new look to differentiate it from other G.I. Joe lines and if that was case, the company succeeded.

The fact that “G.I. Joe: Renegades” has its own style, it’s starting to grown on me and love the fact there are many characters introduced but also seeing these new character designs for characters (both G.I. Joe and Cobra) that I grew up with and collected.  And I have to say that Hasbro also pulled off the animation to action figure very well (especially with the Storm Shadow action figure from “Renegades”).

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the audio, “G.I. Joe Renegades” is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and PCM Stereo.  For its lossless soundtrack, I heard effects via the surround channels that are more evident on Blu-ray vs. its DVD counterpart.  For example, in one scene, I could hear Duke’s rocket pack through the surround channels, also hearing other ambiance that I never detected during my original DVD review.  So, there is much more dynamic range and use of the surround channels when listening to the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack.

Dialogue and music are crystal clear and was impressed by the differences between the Blu-ray and DVD version of “G.I. Joe Renegades”.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“G.I. Joe Renegades: The Complete First Season” comes with the following special features:

  • The Descent, Part 1 Audio Commentary – Featuring executive producer/developer Jeff Kline, story editor/writer Henry Gilroy, VP of Development for Hasbro Studios, Mike Vogel and consulting producer, Theresa Trujillo.
  • The Descent, Part 2 Audio Commentary  – Featuring executive producer/developer Jeff Kline, story editor Marty Isenberg, VP of program and development of HUB, Ted Birselli and supervising director Randy Myers.
  • Return of the Arashikage, Part 1 Audio Commentary – Featuring writer Greg Johnson, supervising director Randy Myers, composing team members Starr Parodi and Jeff Fair.
  • Return of the Arashikage, Part 2 Audio Commentary – Featuring director Kevin Altieri, storyboards Patrick Archibald, location designer Kenny McGil and production coordinator Tim Wolkiewic.
  • Busted Audio Commentary – Featuring director Scooter Tidwell, storyboard artist Armen Mirzaian, production coordinator, Jerry Regan and prop designer, April Eriksson.
  • Castle Destro Audio Commentary – Featuring director Nathan Chew, animatic editor David Fain and story editor Henry Gilroy.
  • Union of the Snakes Audio Commentary – Featuring director Scott Bern, storyboard revisionist Will Ruzicha, VG designer Edgar Carlos and character design supervisor Steve Jones.
  • Revelations, Part 2 Audio Commentary  – Featuring writer Marty Isenberg, casting and voice director Ginny McSwain, Charlie Schaltter (voice of Dr. Mindbender) and Natalia Isenberg (voice of Scarlett).
  • Original Featurette – (11:02) Preview of “G.I. Joe Renegades”.
  • A Tribute to Clement Sauve – (4:01)  A tribute to Clement Sauve, character designer for “G.I. Joe Renegades” who died of cancer in January 2011.  Co-workers share their memories of Clem.

I don’t think I would have ever imagined the G.I. Joe characters being the hunted.  It’s one thing for a group to be wanted by Cobra but to also have another group known as The Falcons led by Flint, going after the Joes as well.  It was a major surprise for me but also, a fresh storyline that made things quite exciting and new.

“G.I. Joe: Renegades”, a series for a new generation of G.I. Joe fans but also a series that is unique in the G.I. Joe universe as the storyline is outside of the American Hero canon, but yet paying homage to the original characters that older fans are familiar with.

While I know the look and style of the series will always be debated among G.I. Joe fans, especially older fans used to the original Sunbow series, I figured whether it was “Transformers” or “Star Wars”, there has been a look that went along with each series release and it’s a reality that G.I. Joe fans have to get used to. There will always be a new look for G.I. Joe with each television series release and it also supports the new toyline.

Part of the challenge that Hasbro has always had when it came to the look of G.I. Joe is that the hardcore fans want the remake of the original ’80s line using today’s newer technology, while trying to please these fans, they then release the toyline based on the animated series and it’s always debated online (ever since “Sigma 6″) between fans who like or dislike the new look.

With that being said, “G.I. Joe: Renegades” does utilize a different look that Joe fans will love or hate.  As much as I love G.I. Joe, I also realize that these animated series, while many adults watch them, Hasbro also needs to cater to a new generation of fans and I’m quite supportive of that.

I’m among those adults who still continues to collect G.I. Joes, but this time around, it’s a hobby that I share with my son.  I have purchased the newer lines inspired from the animated series such as the “Sigma 6″ line, the “Resolute” line and also the “Renegades” line.

And with that being said, I’m always open for something new.  As much as I know there are G.I. Joe fans that want an extension of what they grew up with back in the ’80s and ’90s, I don’t know if we’ll ever that ever happening.  Things have changed so much with G.I. Joe that there is a need to bring in a new generation of audience, as well as toy collectors.

I enjoyed “Sigma 6″ but people felt it was too much like anime (which is interesting because the older ’80s Sunbow series was created in Japan) and the toyline was not the 3 3/4 that collectors were used to.  The “Resolute” line was a more adult version where characters die and while appreciated by fans, the timing of the animated release was right before live-action film and thus, “Resolute” was a quick transition and was never meant to be a long animated series to begin with.

So, “G.I. Joe: Renegades” is a new storyline not focusing on the past but using characters from the popular line and bringing them into a storyline that revolves around the G.I. Joe team being pursued by the U.S. Govt. and Cobra.  What I enjoyed about this series is the re-imagining of many characters, their new look to coincide with the series and this storyline with Cobra now part of society through it’s products, with G.I. Joe blamed for an explosion, you would never expect these guys of being the team “wanted” by the American government and also pursued by their fellow soldiers from the Falcon unit.

It’s an entertaining storyline and this first DVD release features the first half of the series and I look forward to the second half as Duke, Scarlett and the others try to show that Cobra is an evil organization and they are not guilty for the crimes that they are accused of.

Also, since the ’80s and early ’90s G.I. Joe animated cartoons, there really hasn’t been a series that tried to bring back characters from the past.  With Renegades, we have Flint and Mary J, Breaker, Law & Order, Steeler, Doc, Stalker, Tripwire, Barbecue  and even Major Bludd, Serpentor, Tomax and Xamot  appear in the first half of the series.  How cool is that!? And even more characters show up in the second half of the series and if anything, while a different storyline, at least Hasbro Studios have made the effort of bringing these characters back.

As much as I enjoyed the series, many including myself are wondering if there will be a second season. Internet reports say there will be, another said the series is done.  Unfortunately, unlike “Transformers” or “Star Wars” (which Hasbro is responsible for the toyline) in which different toylines, unfortunately with G.I. Joe, this is not the case.

With that being said, I can only hope that older fans and newer fans will support all G.I. Joe animated releases.  “G.I. Joe: Renegades” is not the same series that many people grew up with back in the ’80s and ’90s but still, it’s a valiant effort for Hasbro Studios to continue the G.I. Joe line for a new generation, unlike myself and many others who had the comic books, animated series and toyline all at the same time.

It’s a shame because the “Renegades” animates series not only was exciting for fans (who are open to different storylines outside of “A Real American Hero”, the toys that coincided with the series was awesome and the Storm Shadow Renegades was one of the best G.I. Joe figures ever released.  So, for now… all I can only hope that with the many characters featured in the series, that Hasbro allows a second season to continue, so the toyline can continue as well.

As for parents, the series, for the most part, is safe.  These shows were on the Hub and there is a bit of violence as can expected (like the old series) with fighting and people shooting at each other. But nothing visually violent to the point where people are being killed and you see blood.  But parents may not want to show this to younger children who may enact what they see on television.

As for the Blu-ray release of “G.I. Joe Renegades”, I know there are going to be some people who are upset that they purchased the DVD, not knowing that a Blu-ray release would be available after the season one, part one DVD release.  But it does happen (as evidence by Shout! Factory’s “Transformers Prime” Blu-ray release).  But it’s great to see that there are people who are vocal and are wanting HD releases of these animated series.

But for those who were wondering if it is worth the upgrade to watch this series in HD, the answer is yes.  Not only are colors more vibrant and clarity much more evident in video quality for Blu-ray, my tests on the lossless audio track showed there was more dynamic range and surround channel use compared to its DVD counterpart.  So, you get better picture quality and also lossless audio with the Blu-ray release. Also, you get a good number of special features as well, especially a good number of audio commentary tracks from the crew and getting to learn the different process in the making of “G.I. Joe Renegades”.

I also like the fact that all episodes are presented in one collection.  But the truth is that the Blu-ray release is much better than its DVD counterpart, that is if you have the equipment to display HD and listen to the series in HD.  Otherwise, if you don’t, the DVD release is still good but if you have a Blu-ray player or a PS3, then definitely, “G.I. Joe Renegades: The Complete First Season” is worth upgrading and purchasing!

Overall, as a fan who grew up with the original series, comic books and 3 3/4 toyline, I welcomed this fresh new storyline but most of all, hoping that Hasbro can continue a series which a new generation of fans can watch and grow up with as well.

Exciting, fresh and different kind of storyline for “G.I. Joe” fans, “G.I. Joe Renegades: The Complete First Season″ on Blu-ray is definitely recommended!






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