Now on VOD, Snake Eyes: GI Joe Origins reboots a moribund film series since 2013 GI Joe: Retaliation, and strives to reestablish 1980s toy-based intellectual property as the last post-Marvel mega-crossover franchise – though its recent theatrical box office super floparoo may have dashed any hope for future films. So it goes, despite the tying up crazy rich asians breakout star Henry Golding to play the titular Snake Eyes, who was hands down the coolest character in the entire toy line / comic book / comic-slash-toy-commercial line, because he wore all in black and wore an uzi and was also totally a frickin ‘ninja. Did the film therefore deserve such a fate? That’s why you’re reading this, isn’t it?
The essential: IT SHOULD BE KNOWN TODAY that the first scene in the final trailer for this movie, in which Snake Eyes (Golding) pulls his visor down in preparation for some hot and salty fighting action, is actually the last scene. He’s not wearing his signature vintage dorkoid gear in every previous scene because why cover Henry Golding’s face? He’s a star now, and on top of that, the mystery of Snake Eyes, the main character trait of the character (for dorkoids of a certain vintage), is kaputskies because this movie tells us how he became so soft. I’m starting with this as a warning, perhaps, although mostly directed at dorkoids of a certain vintage (and I’m one of them).
In any event. We meet Snake Eyes as a child (Max Archibald), when his father is killed by evil fartwads for reasons the film will eventually reveal, almost certainly after plenty of fights and some sweet ninja shit – and also showing us how. the name Snake Eyes happened. What if the young Snake Eyes swears revenge on the men who orphaned him. Twenty years later, Snake Eyes is doing what any psychologically dubious person consumed with revenge who has significantly boosted their kicking skills would do: punch henchmen in illicit MMA fights in underground Thunderdomes until so no one bet against him, then move to the next town and find a new underground Thunderdome so he can do it again. It’s a life, I guess. One day, a big Yakuza boss in Los Angeles recruits him on a promise to find his father’s murderer. He reluctantly agrees and spends his days stuffing giant dead fish with guns, making them easier to smuggle. The guns, I mean, not the fish. Another day, a fight breaks out because one of the Yakuza dudes is a snitch, and right in the middle of the choppa-lotta hubbub, Snake Eyes decides that working for the bad guys is all kinds of bad mojo, and pulls up. on the snitch’s side, helping him escape.
The snitch happens to be Tommy Arashikage (Andrew Koji), a very wealthy guy whose influential Tokyo clan has beef with the Yakuza, and consists of a whole super sweet ninja crapload, and owns a magical gem that “contains the power of the sun,” and has a large, deep pit enclosure… well, whatever, I’m stepping away from the point here, which is that Snake Eyes joins them and learns to fight like a ninja from the Arashikage masters. Tommy introduces our protagonist to Clan Chief Sen (Eri Ishida), Blind Master (Peter Mensah), – don’t laugh – Hard Master (Iko Uwais) and Clan Security Chief Akiko (Haruka Abe), who is All ask if this The brash, stooped American has what it takes to be even a half-gentle ninja, and so, he must face “the three challenges of the warrior,” each unintentionally funnier than the last.
We get some mystical ninja training sequences and crapola (possibly but not soon enough involving the right sharp weapons), fights with guys with swords and fedoras, bits of car / motorcycle chase action. , the possible involvement of familiar characters from the Scarlett franchise (Samara Weaving) and the Baroness (Ursula Corbero), and a scene in which Snake Eyes argues with Akiko, which could be interpreted as foreplay, with all the sexual tension between them and the push of the poles (she also calls it simply “Snake” – wow!). The plot basically addresses the three challenges, then presto, we forgot the Snake Eyes vow of revenge, then enter the vow. revenge, then hop again, what about the three challenges, and back to the three challenges. We’re basically stuck in the middle with him, and those two fierce plots will eventually merge into one big kerflooey. And that’s it. the we compress and treat spoilers as ANCIENT NINJA SECRETS.
What movies will this remind you of? : The last time a spin-off from a major franchise sucked eggs this hard, it was X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Performances to watch: This movie is a classic case of horrible dialogue handcuffing its actors by forcing them to say bullshit like, “They call you Snake Eyes, yet you always win!” and “You should have killed me when you had the chance!” Lucky for Golding he has the fewest moronic lines, so I guess his performance is worth watching, because if you watch this movie you have to watch Something.
Memorable dialogue: Tommy, on Snake Eyes ninja training: “You will be tested. You will be hurt. You will suffer. And you will fail. But the hardest part will be listening to you complain about it.
Gender and skin: Akiko and “Snake” (yowza!) Never get past the stage of sparring as this is essentially an overly violent children’s film.
Our opinion : Welp, director Robert Schwentke (the Divergent series, ugh) didn’t break the previous one and made a good GI Joe movie. The previous two do exist, as I’ve seen them, but I hardly remember anything about them – something about “The Nanobite Wars” and The Rock, and an extended cameo from Bruce Willis. Has anyone watched these movies a second time? Hell, not many of you have watched them for the first time, and life goes on.
In the design, Snake-eyes does not lack allure (to etc. of a vintage yada-yada and all that), because Back In The Day was a badass that covered his face, carried a sword and did not speak, and if you needed someone to beat a ninja at their own ninja game, he was your ninja. But here, the character’s appeal has been taken away and all that’s left is a bland banana, he said, immediately regretting what he just typed. And so we are left with Golding, who absolutely has the muscle of an actor to elevate such procedures, but Schwentke and a childish script give him one thing to do, and no room to do anything else, for there are sequences of generic action they need to access. Generic action sequences like a borderline car chase where heroes and villains end up fighting on top of a car transporter, and as always in these movies, the car transporter driver keeps going full speed ahead, without even considering stopping, even when a character hijacks one of the cars and crushes it from behind and spins it backwards so it can go really really really fast in the opposite direction for no discernible reason. Why doesn’t the driver stop the truck, Bart? WHY DIDN’T STOP THE TRUCK?
The film frequently inspires the question, why are they fighting again? The only answer is, because we apparently want to see them fight. I might add, it would definitely be better if we could actually see them better, and maybe discern one character from another in these fights, which are meant to thrill but are so frequent and executed with such uninspired direction, j often felt my attention drift away, as well as precious moments in my life, like sand through the hourglass. The less said about the characters, the better – I supported dead and lifeless action figures in more charismatic poses, and at least they carried with them the potential of a playful imagination. eight year old child. That eight year old would roll his eyes at that junk, and I would know it, because that eight year old is still in me, hoping for a nice ass GI Joe upcoming movie.
Our call: TO JUMP. I want you to know that Snake-eyes stinks. AND KNOWING IS HALF THE BATTLE.
John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more of his work on johnserbaatlarge.com or follow him on Twitter: @johnserba.
Where to stream Snake Eyes: GI Joe Origins