In my halcyon youth, which is to say late elementary school and possibly early junior high, one of my primary goals each day was to get out of school and home to my even then twenty-year-old, cableless, rabbit-eared television and click over to one of the handful of UHF channels and watch back-to-back episodes of Transformers and G.I. Joe. So when the Transformers movie hit, there was a significant nostalgia quotient even though I really didn’t trust it could turn out that well. Because, giant transforming robots just seem more plausible in a cartoon, despite that modern special effects turned out to be up to the job after all.
Surprisingly, it didn’t cross my mind then that a G.I. Joe movie might happen, even though it seems a lot more plausible that one could be successfully made. Still, once I caught wind of the film’s existence, I was pretty excited. And then, over months of previews focused on metallic combat suits that might be better placed in a game of Halo, that excitement gradually drained away to nothing. Which, really, is the way that expectations management ought to work on big budget summer adaptations of childhood memories.
The Rise of Cobra is at least as much about the existence of a secret military organization under UN authority tasked with solving unique problems on the geopolitical stage as it is about the emergence of yet another new terrorist threat. G.I. Joe, says its commanding officer General Hawk, picks from the very best of each member nation’s armed services, by invitation only. They have a secret base. They are, in short, every UN-armed-takeover conspiracy theorist’s wet dream. Luckily, instead of making a movie about that, it’s about fan favorites Duke, Scarlett, and Snake Eyes’ fight to stop an (implausibly) Scottish arms dealer from carrying out a plan to bilk the UN of a lot of research money they paid into his nanomite program by stealing the weapons back upon delivery, demonstrating their power, and then selling the remaining warheads to the highest bidder. All while carrying out a second, more sinister plan that will ensure adequate sequel bait if the box office performs as expected.
But you know what? It worked. I’ll watch it again, and I already look forward to that all-but-certain sequel, and if there were a few pieces of dumb to ignore over the course of the movie, well, that never stopped me from enjoying the cartoon either. I am well-pleased.
 Maybe channel 39? I guess it doesn’t matter anyway; all the UHF channels either got bought up by the emerging new networks or else went Spanish when cable ate up too much local marketshare. (Also, I’m not sure who I’m kidding when I say I had to click over; why would I ever have changed it away in the first place?)
 Nanomites, as you shouldn’t really care to know, are tiny robots that, in this case, are programmed to eat pretty much everything until told by their software to stop. The ability to strip a city bare in just minutes, although insignificant next to the power of the Force, is a pretty potent threat; albeit perhaps a wee bit too easy to lose control of.