One would typically tend to think making movies out of toys isn't exactly a good idea. I'm personally all for it, if they can come up with a decent storyline and an exciting flick. G.I. Joe is one of those toys that got a couple films. I myself am not very familiar with the G.I. Joes (I know they exist and that's about where it ends), but the films looked exciting, so I figured I'd check them out.
In "The Rise of Cobra," the first of two films (so far), a weapons master named James McCullen has developed weaponized nanotechnology that devours metal and other materials (including human faces). Four warheads with the weapons in them are being transported by NATO soldiers including Duke and Ripcord (wait, are those their *actual* names?) before they are ambushed by an enemy group led by the Baroness, who wishes to use the warheads to attack the world and rise above the panic and lead a new world order.
Duke and Ripcord are rescued by the G.I. Joe's, a top-secret government agency that combines the greatest individuals in the world. So the characters we ultimately have to keep track of include Duke, the stereotypical main character; Ripcord, the not-Will-Smith wisecracker (and he's not very good at it either); Scarlett, the female character; General Hawk, the leader; and Snake Eyes, the awesome ninja.
Ultimately, what we are given is a fairly predictable storyline (save for one late "twist" of sorts involving the identity of "Cobra"), but what we are also given is an action/adventure fest filled with exciting chases, insane stunts, ninja fights, underwater submarine battles, and the lot. On the action front, this film is very exciting and thrilling, even if unrealistic at times (i.e.: characters being unhurt when they should be dead). Easily the best parts are the fights between the two ninjas, Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow--two blade-wielding fighters of Japanese origin.
The biggest problem with this film is the main characters. None of them are particularly appealing (unless you count Snake Eyes as a main character). Duke is a somewhat dull/nothing special main character, even if he kicks a lot of butt--thus adding to my overall experience of Channing Tatum being a poor actor. Ripcord is more annoying than anything; it feels like he was put there more for lame wisecracks than to do much else (he doesn't even do that much on the battlefield).
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is just decent on the story front and poor on most of the characters, but it's a very exciting action stunt/visual effect/chase flick, and after getting most of its exposition out of the way in the first 30 minutes (and about half of that is action too), the film rarely lets up and offers a very entertaining distraction. It achieves what it sets out to do quite well--it's not trying to be a masterpiece, it's just trying to be exciting and fun to watch--and it does that quite well. I wouldn't recommend it to more picky action watchers, but it should be a fun outing for most others.