I didn’t have high hopes for Snake Eyes: GI Joe Origins, but I expected a lot better after the disaster that was the previous two movies. What we got was not only one of the worst movies of the year, but I’d argue the worst of the GI Joe movies as of now.
GI Joe: Retaliation was in a sense a “soft reboot/sequel,” whatever that’s suppose to mean and Snake Eyes completely retcons everything all together. I don’t understand what they’re doing with the franchise, it’s a mess.
I don’t know if it’s even worth taking the time to talk about what the back story to Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow was from GI Joe: Rise of Cobra, seeing as that’s where it’s mostly explained. It’s completely different now. Each movie, at this point, is almost standalone except for a few people reprising their role from Rise of Cobra to Retaliation. Snake Eyes on the other hand has an all-new cast. Not as miscast this time, but it’s completely disconnected.
As a kid I was a big fan of the GI Joe cartoon and toys. However, I don’t know any of the character’s histories too well. I know that Snake Eyes was a part of the GI Joes before befriending Storm Shadow and later training with him and his family’s clan, the Arashikage clan. The movie gets that half right, seeing they’re adults before meeting each other. Also it’s confirmed through the plot that the GI Joes and Cobra are both already established organizations already.
As I said, everything is retconned here and changed completely. Honestly they should have thrown out Rise of Cobra and Retaliation while still just scripts and started over. It’s bad enough when you reboot a series not that far apart from each other. This franchise has now basically rebooted with each movie, but that’s enough about all of that.
Snake Eyes is as the title says, an origin story for Snake Eyes and kind of Storm Shadow too. The movie is really about both of them and their trials and tribulations, becoming “blood brothers” eventually. This aspect of the movie was done all right. It was boring at times, which made it hard to sit through and pay attention to.
The acting was decent for the most part. Henry Golding plays Snake Eyes, I guess they thought race swapping Snake Eyes was better than having a white person playing the part properly. Remember when everyone got up in arms about Iron Fist on Netflix? Wouldn’t want to culturally appropriate.
Golding is okay, but I don’t know about him holding up a movie as the lead role. I only know him from Last Christmas, where he basically just walks around talking to Emilia Clarke, and a short part in The Gentlemen. So I don’t have much to gauge him on. I think my biggest problem is that Snake Eyes never talked and just did badass ninja stuff and now he’s wisecracking, talking, being a character and it just feels out of place.
Andrew Koji is Tommy (Storm Shadow) and I thought he did a great job. I haven’t seen anything from him before except Fast and Furious 6, but I can hardly remember that movie let alone some random character in it. If they made a standalone Storm Shadow movie he’d be great as he seems like he can hold his own as the main character.
The rest of the cast isn’t too bad at all, with some notable exceptions. Samara Weaving plays Scarlett and she’s just horrible in this. Luckily she doesn’t play a big role, basically just lets us know that the GI Joes are a thing. It felt like she was literally reading her lines on the page when speaking. I’ve seen her in a few things, never thought she was amazing, but this felt like the worst.
There’s also the Baroness and she was completely miscast with Úrsula Corberó. Her acting wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t good either. Her whole demeanor was off. Baroness is a ruthless badass and in this not only does she still have a horrible accent but she seems more incompetent. Now I feel like I’m picking on the girls. [This review will be canceled in 3…2…1…]
The plot starts with Snake Eyes as a kid seeing his father murdered. This enrages him to the point of carrying that hatred of the rest of his life. The guy that kills his father gives the father a chance to live by rolling dice, he does it and gets… snake eyes. This isn’t a pun, that’s what happens. Yeah, Snake Eye gets his name from what his father rolled with dice. It’s… different, I guess. Glass half full?
Later we learn the dice were loaded, which was not at all surprising and pretty predictable. Then we jump to present day and Snake Eyes starts working with a gang smuggling guns. Finally Snake Eyes befriends Tommy, by not killing him, which Tommy sees as saving his life. Seems flimsy, but sure, OK. He takes Snake Eyes to his clan’s home in Japan and trains him.
From there the two become close friends and we find out what Snake Eyes is really up to. He’s working his way to finding the man that killed his father in order to seek revenge. Snake Eyes trains and goes through trials to see if he has what it takes to join the clan.
The action is fun when it comes to the swordplay, but it gets over the top like a lot of action movies do, especially these days. It seems like now everyone is a superhero. Some of it I can ignore when it gets crazy, but other times it really pulls me out of the movie.
The way things play out don’t really make sense to me. The man that wanted Snake Eyes to kill Tommy was at one time part of the same clan. He’s basically the main bad guy of the movie and Tommy wants him dead. However, the guy works for Cobra, so you’d think Tommy would hate Cobra? The way this plays out is lazy execution to say the least.
To be honest, everything was executed poorly. Not just this movie, but all three of these GI Joe movies. I find them insulting to fans of the franchise. The biggest upset is this constant screwing around, reboots and retconning. Just let it be. If you make a bad movie and plan to make a sequel, just make it better. There’s apparently a G.I. Joe: Ever Vigilant coming out that’s dubbed the third movie. It’s listed with the same actors as Snake Eyes, so I assume that from here on out they’re sticking with what they have.
Snake Eyes is arguably the most popular character in GI Joe mythos and they did him dirty with this. If you’re going to retcon the backstory of Snake Eyes, at least do it more like the actual back story of the character. You change it from what was told to us in Rise of Cobra, but then only tell part of it true to the actual origin of the character. It’s like when they made X-Men: First Class. They had a chance to get the actual real characters from the comics together, but don’t. At least that movie is good.
Personally, I put most of the blame of what’s happening with these movies on Hasbro. I assume they have final say on anything and everything that happens and they either don’t know anything about making movies or simply don’t care that their characters the stories are being bastardized. Take a page from Marvel, get someone that knows the franchise in and out, and put them in charge of everything like Kevin Feige.
Snake Eyes is an abomination overall, just like the previous two movies. Fans should be upset by all this. Maybe they’ll get their act together, but until then I don’t care what they do with this franchise. I’ll stick to the cartoon series and GI Joe: The Movie from 1987. Maybe I’ll start reading the comic books too, but nothing after 2015.