Movie: SNAKE EYES: G.I. JOE ORIGINS
Rating: PG-13, sequences of strong violence and brief strong language
Release Date: July 23, 2021
Jeanne: The luscious Henry Golding stars as the title character in the new Hasbro G.I. Joe franchise, SNAKE EYES: G.I. JOE ORIGINS. Seriously, he is the ultimate choice to play this character, and he has a fantastic supporting cast to help him navigate the world of the Japanese ninja clan, Arashikage.
SNAKE EYES begins 20 years in the past, when a young boy and his father are attacked at their wilderness cabin. The father is executed, but the son manages to escape. In present day, that child has become a transient boxer/fighter who goes by the name of Snake Eyes (Golding). He’s being watched by Kenta (Takehiro Hira), a member of Cobra.
He recruits Snake Eyes by promising to deliver to him the man who murdered his father. In a turn of events at the docks in L.A., Snake Eyes saves Thomas “Tommy” Arashikage (Andrew Koji), aka Storm Shadow, from execution. Tommy whisks Snake Eyes off to Tokyo where he plans on instating Snake Eyes as a member of the Arashikage clan.
At a running time of two hours, SNAKE EYES has a whole lot going on. But I must admit, there is never a dull moment --- the film is non-stop action. With a pulsating score by Martin Todsharow, spectacular set designs by Sandy Walker and wicked costumes by Louise Mingenbach, this superhero film directed by Robert Schwentke doesn’t disappoint.
Golding is such a brilliant choice for this role, mainly because he’s handsome and charming, but he isn’t perfect. His fighting skills are exceptional, but he can learn a thing or two from the other members of the cast. And he does possess that desirable comedic timing.
On the other hand, Koji makes for a very interesting Tommy. He’s splendid to watch and his skills are top notch. I found him particularly intriguing.
Despite the male-driven premise, SNAKE EYES has three very accomplished female actors. Haruka Abe plays Akiko, a top-tier member of the Arashikage clan. Samara Weaving is Scarlett, a G.I. Joe agent and Úrsula Corberó stars as the Baroness, a top-level Cobra operative. These three women kick ass and take no back seats to any of their male counterparts --- so refreshing.
Other than one too many fight scenes with one or two against twenty, SNAKE EYES is wildly entertaining and a true summer blockbuster. And anything with Henry Golding is worth the price of admission.
Opinion: See It Now!
David: If you’re a fan of film classics like THE MATRIX or CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON then you should find SNAKE EYES: G.I. JOE ORIGINS entertaining. The new movie borrows heavily from those two. Although the similarities abound, director Robert Schwentke and a trio of writers have created an action thriller that will satisfy a new generation of martial arts fantasy lovers.
Personally, I found some of the quieter moments in SNAKE EYES to be more satisfying. The fight sequences and mayhem with motorcycles and autos could have been cut way back. A little goes a long way but some filmmakers fall in love with their visual effects’ madness and vehicle mayhem, and that seemingly will never change.
Meanwhile, when Snake Eyes (Henry Golding) faces the first of three challenges from the Japanese Arashikage clan that has taken him in, he must wrest away a bowl of water from a character called Hard Master (Iko Uwais) without spilling a drop. He gets four chances and after using up the first three, Snake Eyes must utilize his wits to pass the test. Golding has had a relatively short career, but he has already established himself as a star who is enjoyable to watch on the big screen.
The film gets off to a tense start when a young boy’s father (Steven Allerick) is in deep trouble with thugs who want to kill him. He is trying to protect his son, but things go awry. Fast forward 20 years, and the son is now known as Snake Eyes, a man who has made it his life’s mission to find out who murdered his dad. He has become a boxer/fighter who adopted his name from a pair of loaded dice involved in his father’s slaying.
If you’re not sure what “loaded dice” means, it’s when a pair of dice is rigged to come up with a certain number on every roll. In SNAKE EYES that number is two, i.e., one “pip” or spot on each die. The opposite of snake eyes is, of course, “box cars” with six pips on each die.
A rare jewel that is secreted away in a hiding place accessible only by those who contain the right DNA is at the core of this story. Whomever possesses this small glowing red object becomes invincible, and while one rival group tries to protect its location another wants it stolen. Here’s where Snake Eyes’ dilemma comes in because to find out whomever killed his father, he must procure the jewel from the Arashikage clan and give it to Cobra, their enemy.
SNAKE EYES boasts strong female protagonists on both sides. A lot of screen presence is given to Eri Ishida as Obake, the grandmotherly matriarch of the Arashikage and Haruka Abe as Akiko, the “keeper” of the clan’s defense. On the opposing side is Úrsula Corberó as the beautiful but deadly Baroness of Cobra. Samara Weaving plays Scarlett --- a G.I. Joe agent, hence the reference to this film as Hasbro’s G.I. Joe origins. Scarlett joins the fray with the Baroness and they manage to thwart dozens of heavily armed male warriors when they form a “temporary alliance” --- cue the comic relief.
Andrew Koji plays Tommy/Storm Shadow, the future leader of the Arashikage. Koji’s performance is a strong one and his character has a rather spectacular emotional breakdown after Obake sentences him to a non-leadership role in the clan. It is here we know a sequel to SNAKE EYES is coming because Tommy promises to get his revenge on Snake Eyes for stealing the jewel and upsetting the family dynamic --- and Snake Eyes goes after Tommy to bring him back home.
This film is ultra-violent so it must have barely escaped with its PG-13 rating intact. It is still far too scary for younger viewers particularly when a trio of enormous snakes makes not one but two separate --- and horrifying --- appearances.
Opinion: Mild See It Now!