Snake Eyes Review: A Sleek, but Subtle, Beginning for G.I. Joe Franchise!
Updated: Sep 21
It is hard to imagine that Hasbro would be a major player at the movies, but sure enough the toy company has transcended to the big screen with series such as Transformers. However, the robots in disguise have not been the only Hasbro product to make this jump as a certain group of real American Heroes have had their fair share of cinematic adventures. Since the 80’s G.I.Joe have been a embroiled into pop culture with the likes of televisions series and comics to its name. In the case of movies, the Joes have had two live action adaptions hitting the scenes in the past decade, but it has been sometimes since this series has set foot on the celluloid frontline. However, that changes this summer as at long last the Joes return with a new movie that focuses on the team's very own shinobi-Snake Eyes The character is a fan favorite in the franchise and appeared in both G.I. Joe films with Ray Parks portraying the silent ninja. So perhaps there is no better way to start this next journey for the series than to begin with the shady hero ‘s first solo film Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins.
Directed by Robert Schwentke, the movie tells the story of how Snake Eyes (Henry Golding) joins the clan Arashikage and finds himself in the middle of Cobra’s scheme, which is to steal a powerful weapon that is protected by the clan. Along with being an origin story, the movie also serves as the first entry a new cinematic universe that will expand on the G.I. Joes-and perhaps a little more. Although I am not the biggest G.I Joe fan seeing this new movie (and the universe it could build) did peak my interest. After seeing this spin-off, I must say that Snake Eyes is a subtle restart for the action franchise.
Snake Eyes’ origin was a tale full of excitement and complacency. The story took some unexpected directions with Snake’s journey being one full of conflict and treachery. While the narrative was not bold storytelling, it was refreshing and brought some nuance to this gritty plot. Yet aspects like the Arashikage’s sacred jewel were unclear and only served to be nothing more than being a plot device. When it came to lore, the story creates an investing world that can easily be expanded upon-though some details like the Joes’ involvement needed some clarification. If nothing else this story was exhilarating enough to keep me invested all the way through; and that is never a bad thing for a tale such as this one.
For a character not know for his boisterous personality, Snake Eyes was certainly an engaging protagonist. The character was rather grey in his motivation which allowed him to be captivating in his progression. Along with decent development, the performance from Golding was impressive as he brought charm and grit to the inevitable silent warrior. Equally as investing was Snake Eyes’ brother in arms Tommy Arashikage/Storm Shadow (Andrew Koji). The development of Storm Shadow was endearing as it gave a keen dynamic to the ninja’s eventual turn to the dark side. Together the two were an impressive duo and I would not object to seeing more of their personal struggle. When it came to the rest of the cast, the players were hit and miss. The likes of Akiko (Hakura Abe) was good as she meshed well with Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow while Scarlet (Samara Weaving) was inconsistent in her role. The villains were basic in their purpose which left little to the imagination. Although Baroness (Ursula Corbero) had a charm to her that made her stand out from the rest. Other characters like Hard Master (Iko Uwais) and Blind Master (Peter Mensah) may have limited role, but their presence was enough to round out this exuberant cast.
Snake Eyes was certainly an action packed experience. The movie had an array of moments that were exciting for any action movie. The fight scenes were particularly impressive as the choreography had keen direction that was reminiscent to the martial arts genre. However what hindered the action was film’s cinematography as its use of shaky cam made it difficult to capture the nuance of certain fights. While some of the film’s camera work was questionable other moments were handled quite well and captured the exhilaration behind the movie's concept. Along with a decent score by Martin Todsharow, the movie featured an atmosphere that was fitting for any action film and one that was well suited for the G.I. Joe franchise.
Snake Eyes is a simplistic origin film, but an enjoyable one to be sure. The movie featured a thrilling story and a solid cast, but it only goes so far with some of its concepts as well as its presentation. Yet the movie delivers in aspects such as action even if some visuals were clearer than others. If this film is any indication, then the G.I. Joe franchise shows promise as a cinematic universe-but it does have a long way to go. Whatever the next mission may be, at least Snake Eyes was fun blockbuster that brought a lot of sleek action to the silver screen.