By Lee Romero
Much like Transformers, G.I. Joe is one of those franchises that triggers so many memories of my childhood. Near-n-dear to my heart, it’s without question (as an adult) I had to dive into their live-action films years later. While I went in with certain expectations, much of them weren’t met. They both suffered revamping curse of silliness, bad scripts, glamorized casting, and simply the lack of heartfelt magic they generated in their comic books and/or animated series; however, I’d be a liar if I said to a certain degree, I didn’t enjoy some aspect of all films. They were mildly fun. But kudos to BUMBLEBEE for making me believe there’s a chance with TF, and now SNAKE EYES for making me believe there’s probably a chance with GIJ!
While the franchise has many characters whose origin stories would be nice to present, I think Snake Eyes was a pretty good start. Not only does it unfurl one story, but two: Storm Shadow’s. They’ve been, are, and will always be a package deal considering their backstories. So, for that alone, this piece piqued my interest.
That said, here we go! In SNAKE EYES: G.I. JOE ORIGINS, an ancient Japanese clan called the Arashikage welcomes tenacious loner Snake Eyes (Henry Golding) after he saves the life of their heir apparent (Andrew Koji). Upon arrival in Japan, the Arashikage teach him the ways of the ninja warrior while also providing him something he’s been longing for: a home. However, when secrets from Snake Eyes’ past are revealed, his honor and allegiance get tested — even if that means losing the trust of those closest to him.
Simply put, SNAKE EYES is pretty much an adrenaline rush. Is it perfect? No. I even feel I need to go dig up come comics and ‘toons to double-check on the origins between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow; but I was hook’d! I dug it a lot more than expected. It was a trip down memory lane with characters, Cobra logo, etc. The script was a little ‘meh’ due to daddy issues as backdrop, but it was a pretty cool, loud, crazy, adventurous, and fun flick to take in. What makes this live-action version entertaining are its set pieces, action sequences, scenery, soundtrack, visual F/X, and inevitable sequel setup – stick through credits! Mix it all up and it’s a cocktail of cinematic chaos and charm.
This origin story will have its backlash, like all others. As mentioned, it isn’t perfect. A couple of my gripes were his life of silence was never addressed, or perhaps a better-looking costume – not making a part of a motorcycle outfit. There were also elements of emptiness when taking it in, along some pretty weak performances throughout its run. But unlike prior films based on G.I. Joe, I think this is one I’ve enjoyed the most. Love it or hate it, if you’re a longtime fan of the franchise, the title alone will lure into giving this piece a shot. The franchise hasn’t been able to land solid grounding among its films, but it’s a heart that keeps beating. Enjoy the ride!
Genre: Action/Adventure / Rated: PG-13 / Run Time: 2:01
Starring: Henry Golding, Andrew Koji, Ursula Corbero, Samara Weaving, Haruka Abe, Tahehiro Hira, and Iko Uwais
Directed by Robert Schwentke