I feel no particular affection or nostalgia for the "G.I. Joe" brand-name. Yes, I'm well-aware that the toy hero has been around since well before my birth, that he's had several resurgences over the years, and that he and his massive team of friends and foes were huge cartoon stars when I was growing up in the 1980s. Yet I'm neither a fan nor a hater of the property, and so I approached his latest incarnation, the big-budget live action* film G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra with no baggage whatsoever, aside from that "feelm critic" valise that is a permanent fixture inside my brain. My early verdict is this: Find the asterisked word in this paragraph, and that's all you need to know.
What many would call a "guilty pleasure" I'll simply address as a question of "intent vs. result." (Mainly because I refuse to feel guilty for enjoying a film, especially when I can back up my opinions with genius insights like this...) The intent of the mega-pricey, ultra-flashy and non-brain-taxing Rise of Cobra is this: To deliver two hours of colorfully kinetic lunacy, to be a live-action cartoon that pleases old-school fans and basic action junkies in equal measure, to present long sequences of amusing ass-kickery that are only briefly interrupted by several "exposition dumps" and a few (too many) character-building flashbacks. All coated with non-stop CGI spectacle, pulse-pumping noises, and a bunch of broadly likeable caricatures.