New to UK cinemas this week is the action-adventure movie, Snake Eyes: G. I. Joe Origins. Directed by Robert Schwentke, the movie stars Henry Golding, Andrew Koji, Úrsula Corberó, Haruka Abe, and Samara Weaving and is the latest entry in Paramount Pictures’ live-action G. I. Joe franchise, following 2009’s G. I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and 2013’s G. I. Joe: Retaliation.
Do you need to have watched the previous Joe films before grabbing some popcorn and viewing this new one? Not at all. Snake Eyes: G. I. Joe Origins is a reboot of the entire series, with a whole new cast, and focuses largely on the back story of the very popular title character.
In the movie, Snake Eyes is an expert martial arts fighter, who is orphaned at a young age. In the years that follow, he gravitates toward an underground fight club, where he shows off his skills.
It is here that Snake Eyes is approached by a crime boss and sent on a secret mission, to steal the Jewel of the Sun – a mystical stone which possesses great power. But the mission is not straight forward, and Snake Eyes soon finds himself questioning his allegiances as he meets new allies and makes some new enemies.
Classic Joe characters such as the Baroness and Scarlett put in appearances, but this is largely a Snake Eyes-centric picture. The point of the movie is to show how Snake Eyes becomes a hero in the Joe universe, with a fairly stripped back story about self-discovery.
Snake Eyes: G. I. Joe Origins was released in the US back in July, but is only now making its way to UK shores. I’m not sure why there was a brief delay, as UK cinemas have been in full-swing for months now, but there is one thing I do know about this movie: it certainly wasn’t worth the wait.
I’m not entirely sure who is crying out for Snake Eye: G. I. Joe Origins, but whoever you are, I’m not convinced you will be pleased with what you are getting. This isn’t a terrible movie, but it sure is an unimaginative one, and I can’t see many people being excited by it.
The trailer for this movie looked boring, the associated marketing around the film has been very uninteresting, and the title of the film is beyond clunky. All of these things should tell you that this is a very run-of-the-mill movie, but if you are still in any doubts, let me spell it out quite clearly: Snake Eyes: G. I. Joe Origins is a snooze-fest with very little redeeming features.
And to be completely transparent here, I watched the previous live-action Joe movies during their respective opening weekends, and while they were hardly Oscar-winning pictures either, I found them to be miles better than this one. Even though they were utter nonsense, I found a great deal of tongue-in-cheek enjoyment in the earlier movies, yet with this film I’m amazed I even stayed awake to get to the end credits.
Unlike the previous movies, as well as the comic books and TV shows that helped inspire this film, the Snake Eyes depicted in this movie breaks from the norm because the character is given a voice. The standard depiction of Snake Eyes across the Joe universe is that of a mute hero, with his actions speaking louder than his lack of words, but this time around he gets plenty of lines.
As this film opted to switch things around a bit, I had hoped that the dialogue in this picture – specifically from Snake Eyes himself – would offer up something engaging. It didn’t.
So, with the dialogue doing nothing for me, I leaned back and expected the action to take over – wowing me with impressive choreography and innovative new fighting techniques. Alas, I found myself disappointed here too, as the film didn’t bring anything new to the table.
Don’t get me wrong, the fight scenes aren’t bad, they are simply nothing special. Everything has been seen and done before, and that pretty much sums up my entire feelings on Snake Eyes: G. I. Joe Origins.
Does the film have any redeeming features? Yes, despite the blandness of the picture, there are a couple of bright spots.
Henry Rollins, Samara Weaving and Haruka Abe are all great in this movie (although the less said about Úrsula Corberó’s Baroness, the better). This trio of actors aren’t given much to work with, but they do their best and they give it their all whenever the opportunity arises.
There are also some great shots in this movie, with the highlight being a rain-soaked, neon-lit fight scene, which takes place in an alley way roughly mid-way through the story. The sequence doesn’t last very long, and it is nothing particularly original, but it is a visually appealing part of the film and demonstrates the strength of the cinematography.
In fact, at times Snake Eyes: G. I. Joe Origins boasts some excellent cinematography. There are parts of this movie which look stunning, with backgrounds that really pop off the screen.
It’s just a shame that these sequences are only present every so often. The stand-out shots are great when they appear, but they only seem to pop up intermittently, presumably to take the focus off what is a very slow, very long movie.
With a running time of two-hours, Snake Eyes: G. I. Joe Origins is far too long for the amount of story being offered up. There’s simply not enough meat on the bones, and the whole thing shows signs of running out of steam while there is still a good 45-minutes left to go.
As the movie lurched into the final third, I found myself struggling to maintain any interest. I knew exactly how the film was going to play out, I could see certain character developments coming a mile away, and ultimately, I didn’t care.
And that is my biggest problem with this movie – I simply didn’t care. I tried to get involved, I begged for the film to grab my attention, but it never did, and by the end, I was happy to move on with my life.
Snake Eyes: G. I. Joe Origins reminds me of the 2005 Marvel movie, Elektra, in that they are both action-adventure pictures which think they are much better than they really are. In fairness, Snake Eyes: G. I. Joe Origins is an improvement on Elektra, mostly because it isn’t complete garbage, but they both suffer from being bland adaptations of the source material, which take themselves far too seriously.
I can’t say I expected much from Snake Eyes: G. I. Joe Origins, and at no point did I imagine I would be getting Grade A material, but it could and should have been much better than this. Sure, it’s watchable and I expect some audiences may like parts of it, but this is uninspiring stuff.
Based on the frequency of the G. I. Joe movies so far, I don’t expect to see another movie for a little while, although there are rumblings of a new film on the horizon. However, I certainly don’t have any interest in seeing a follow-up to this one, and at this point I can only hope for another reboot or something (anything) with a little more pizazz.