To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins is a sci-fi martial arts film based on Hasbro’s G.I. Joe character of the same name. Directed by Robert Schwentke, the film serves as an origin story for the titular character and reboot of the G.I. Joe film franchise. The story follows Snake Eyes, a talented and deadly underground martial arts fighter. After Snake Eyes saves Tommy Arashikage from the Yakuza, he embeds himself into the Arashikage Clan, an ancient Japanese ninja society, in order to steal the clan’s most sacred treasure. If he completes his task, he will be able to avenge his father who was killed in front of him when he was a child. The film stars Henry Golding as Snake Eyes and Andrew Koji as Storm Shadow, with Haruka Abe, Takehiro Hira, Úrsula Corberó, Samara Weaving, Eri Ishida, Peter Mensa, and Iko Uwais in supporting roles.
When Hasbro and Paramount released G. I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra it was an utter mess. Hot off the heels of Iron Man and Transformers, it was very cartoonish and tried to mix elements from films that were popular at the time. The studio was able to fix this with G. I. Joe: Retaliation by taking the best parts of the first film and adding “franchise Viagra”, Dwayne Johnson in a leading role. That film was far superior and a pretty fun theater experience. It felt like the franchise was getting n track and was very much happy to see a third film. But now they’ve decided to reboot the franchise it is sad because now they are going to have to reboot the franchise again. This movie is awful, and in many ways, I feel that this film betrays the character of Snake Eyes. Any G. I. Joe fan knows that Snake Eyes is mute and in this film he talks a lot. Considering that this is an origin story him speaking is fine but by the end, he is still talking. He never has an accident that takes away his voice or makes a vow of silence. There are many opportunities to render him mute in this film. His throat could have been burned protecting someone from the sacred treasure. It could have been a punishment for his initial betrayal of the Arashikage Clan. A vow of silence could have been made until he brought Tommy back to the clan. Anything could have been added that would have helped make the character more in tune with the source material.
For a protagonist, Snake Eyes is not very likable. I’m not saying that we cannot empathize with him because he is in a dire situation. As a man driven by revenge, he wants nothing more than to find the man who killed his father. But the way he comes about doing that hurts and kills a lot of other people. And what makes it worse is that he does not feel sorry for his actions. It felt as if this was a script for a sci-fi ninja movie and the studio said “This will never sell. Let’s slap G.I. Joe on it and add some of those characters and see if it’ll work.” Also, say the “G.I. Joe Origins” subtitle feels tacked on as they barely feature in the film. Similar to a famously bad Wolverine film. All this to say, deviating from the source material is fine, but only if the story, the characters, and the script are well done.
The cinematography in this film is terrible and that is unfortunate. Bojan Bazelli overuses shaky cam during every fight scene. The way the camera is moving doesn’t allow the audience to fully experience what is going on. As a matter of fact, there are scenes where characters are just walking and the camera is shaking. In reality, the worst thing about this film is that it wastes so much good talent. You have Andrew Koji, Henry Golding, Samara Weaving, all up-and-coming A-list actors with bright futures ahead of them. Andrew Koji shines in the show Warrior on Cinemax/HBO Max. Henry Golding had breakout performances in Crazy Rich Asians and The Gentlemen. Samara Weaving on the other hand has led has appeared in many films including Ready or Not and television shows such as Ash vs The Evil Dead. All great actors and they are wasted in this boring excuse for a film. They do their best job with what the script demands and their performances are decent, but talent can only take the film so far.
The best thing that I can say about this film besides how talented the actors are is that it introduces a lot of lore to the G.I. Joe universe. We never find out a lot about the Arashikage Clan in the old movies or the cartoons. Leaning into the mystical aspects of this universe helps broaden the scope of what can happen in these films moving forward. Most G. I. Joe stories stick to military adventures and are more technology-driven.
If you have seen Andrew Koji in Warrior then you would know he is a fantastic actor and a great martial artist. As mentioned before, Henry Golding and Samara Weaving are also fantastic. This film would have worked phenomenally as a television series built for streaming. They wouldn’t have to worry about a PG-13 rating and they could’ve gotten a lot more time to flush out the characters and their arcs. Maybe then we would have seen Snake Eyes become a more likable hero and the fall of Storm Shadow would’ve been better. I give Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins a Bad 4.9/10. This film does not measure up to the previous GI Joe films. Maybe they can salvage it with sequels, but honestly, I think they need to reboot it again.