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Movies Review

Snake Eyes

Snake Eyes – A fresh coat of paint does wonders for this reboot entry into the G.I. Joe universe. Snake Eyes is entertaining and presents an interesting opportunity to the classic franchise.

70 / 100

Watchable Minutes : 90 / 120. Out of the two hour run time, I’d say that there’s a good 90 minutes here that are worth watching. This movie would have been more comfortable around the 95 – 110 mark with some smoother writing. 

Trailer Comparison : The trailer that I’ve been watching for this movie felt like it was trying to overcompensate the “cool” aspects of the movie to hide the “not so cool” aspects. Lots of fight scenes and characters were shown off, along with the Snake Eyes costume. There really wasn’t much left to the movie besides the so-so character development and a rough plot.

Movie or Film : G.I. Joe is a neat concept from the 80s designed to sell toys and comic books (a la Transformers), but that’s all it’s supposed to do. There are messages about good and evil blah blah blah but it’s really just an action set piece show and tell with shiny toys and familiar names. 

Info : 

  • Run time : 2 hours
  • Studio : Paramount 
  • Director : Robert Schwentke
  • Where to Watch : In Theaters

Summary : 

After witnessing his fathers murder, a young boy flees for his life and grows up on the shady streets of downtown L.A. When he is recruited by the local Yakuza, his first order is to murder a man named Tommy. Choosing to spare him instead, the two fight for their lives and emerge victorious. As a thank you, Tommy takes his savior to his home in Japan and inducts him into the mysterious ninja society that Tommy’s family has lead for generations. 

Review : 

Snake Eyes is the latest live action cash grab from Hasbro’s archived properties and it seems as good a time as any to bust this one out of the vault, considering how poorly the last two live action movies performed. I remember the last live action version featured Channing Tatum prominently in the trailer and then killed him off within about 10 or 15 minutes of the movie starting, which was really weird at the time and frankly still is. Aside from that, the property is interesting and mostly entertaining on paper and has the bones to make a consistently good popcorn movie every summer if it wanted to. It’s not going to become the next Fast & Furious franchise, although I’m sure that’s exactly what Hasbro wants and hopes for.

I know next to nothing about G.I. Joe, which I suppose is a good thing because I feel that it helped me enjoy this movie as a new fan and not as a seasoned veteran shitposter of crusty reddit threads complaining about X, Y, and Z. I went into this movie pretty much blind, aside from the general framework but I wasn’t sure what was going to be changed to accommodate this latest reboot, but after watching it, I can say that it’s mostly what you expect. I’ll try to stay spoiler free here, but no promises. The general story was solid unless you started to look for plot holes. If you just shut your brain off and watch the movie it is easy to enjoy and be entertained by, but if you start to analyze it too much, it asks too much suspension of disbelief. The whole third trial that takes place in the pit was asking a lot. Now you might be thinking “oh so the super cell terrorist organization known as Cobra is just fine?” and yes it is fine. I can accept that because it’s “plausible”. The things in the pit were not. The same goes for that ancient ninja relic from the Arashikage clan. I can accept the legend that they used to explain it, but I don’t like the implementation of the actual thing they were fighting over. It adds way too much mysticism and fantasy vibes to a story that’s supposed to be mostly centered around warring factions with super technology. I feel that it undermines the whole premise of G.I. Joe if there’s a supernatural or magical element involved in the universe, especially if there’s a chance that the Joes will share a universe with the Transformers franchise at some point (Who knows, ya know?). Things were pretty solid until about half way through the movie where it felt like things started to speed up because they were running out of time. The fall of Tommy into Storm Shadow felt incredibly rushed and it just ended pretty much with that. Obviously an origin movie is supposed to set things up but this one could have broken the mold somewhat and made it so it was a standalone without any sort of in your face “oh that’ll start off the sequel”. Also, one quick gripe, why couldn’t we have had him in the full suit for longer than 20 seconds? That’s the killer feature of the character and we didn’t get it for more than a few seconds. Big missed opportunity.

All that aside, I think that the core cast did a great job. I listened to an interview with Henry Golding and he sounds like an incredibly likeable guy and has a crazy story about how he got into acting. His debut role was Crazy Rich Asians, which seems to have aged wonderfully. I have not yet seen it (maybe that’s a Who’s in the Box! Episode waiting to happen) but it’s definitely on my list of things to watch. I think he kills this character and really succeeded in making it easy to like him and easy to hate him because of his actions, which is a tough act to balance. Andrew Koji, who plays Tommy / Storm Shadow, is also part of the same balancing act. He carried himself with dignity and pride which the character had in spades and was a good foil to the Snake Eyes character. As they moved along the path from good to evil and vice versa, they intersected at the middle and created some good chemistry. The auxiliary cast all did their jobs and supported the main characters nicely. They all stayed inside their lane and seemed to be written well. I didn’t dislike any of them and felt they all served one purpose or another.

The visuals of Snake Eyes were startlingly impressive, and by that I mean I fully expected some bloated CGI dumpster fire mess. Instead, I was treated to practical effects, honest combat scenes with no face swaps, bright Japanese neon backdrops and then tranquil forestry. Everything felt real which is a big boost for a movie like this. Until, that is, we get to that thing I mentioned earlier about the oversized creatures and the mysterious object of power. That stuff felt odd and out of place and I’m getting more annoyed the more I write about it so I’m going to move on. I can’t really remember the score at all so I’m sure it was fine, but very generic. There wasn’t an artist tie in song (a la Venom and Eminem) that I was familiar with so I didn’t listen to closely for anything like that.

Behind the camera sat Robert Schwentke as the director of this movie written by Evan Spiliotopoulus. I’m not very familiar with either of them outside this movie but it seems like they have been fairly active in the past 10 years, working on a random assortment of various projects. I wasn’t able to find if they had worked together previously or not, but I don’t think that really matters on a movie like this. They both did their jobs well and while more of my story gripes are pointed at Spiliotopoulos, Schwentke escapes without too much criticism. I think that the movie would have benefited from something a little tighter and more robust in the story department, but it is difficult to come to an established and fan crazy franchise and set up the whole thing from scratch. Fans are mean and I hope they don’t get treated too harshly because it really is an alright movie.

To say I loved Snake Eyes isn’t really accurate. I enjoyed certain aspects of it more than others, but I definitely didn’t have a bad time watching it. I’m cautiously optimistic for something like this to open the door to more action movies with an emphasis on practical effects and real combat. It has me interested in future movies, especially if Henry Golding and Andrew Koji return.

If you like this, check out : 

  • Bumblebee
  • The Expendables
  • The Raid : Redemption

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