Paramount Pictures releases the latest film in the G.I. Joe series that reveals that franchise, three films in, is still trying to find its footing, and is already engaging in a soft reboot. This time out, we get a reimagining of the origin of two of the toys/comic book/cartoon/movies favorite characters, Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow.
I’ll be honest with you, I was with the film for the first half of it. I liked what they were doing with the characters, how they were interpreted and how it was playing out. It really changed how you saw the characters are originally created, with the blessing of their actual creator, and set up some interesting character dynamics and drama.
Throw in some nicely choreographed action beats, and I was really enjoying myself.
Until about halfway through the film when all of a sudden there’s a supernaturally charged stone, magical floating lights and giant snakes. Congrats, you lost me. All three of these things could have been changed to a much more realistic challenge or obstacle for the characters and the story, and it would have been better for it.
It’s as if the controlling factors of the franchise don’t know how to position it, or properly create a story with it. I say keep the tech, build your characters, create set pieces that are engaging and move the narrative and the characters forward, and keep the ludicrous stuff to a minimum, i.e. non-existent.
The key is to embrace the world created by the Hasbro company without going overboard. It’s a fine line that the series hasn’t been able to find yet. And what the fans are given feels like a bit of a disservice, especially after given us three dimensional Storm Shadows and Snake Eyes in the form of Andrew Koji and Henry Golding respectively.
The film also offers glimpses at the bigger world it is a part of by brushing up against the Joe organization and their enemy Cobra, while still working to keep the action focused on Snake and Shadow. If they found a way to excise or change the more outlandish moments and narrative beats, this could have been the one to really launch the Joe Movie Universe.
But not yet.
Despite my thoughts on the film, it looks and sounds great on 4k, and the steelbook edition looks fantastic on the shelf. I’m also, as we know, a sucker for extras, and there are a couple to be found on this film. There’s an animated short film about Snake Eye’s legendary sword, Morning Light, some deleted scenes, a brief glance at the making of the film, as well as the history of the character and how the dynamic between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow helped define them both in the comics and the cartoon.
There’s a look at the cast, the new roles created for the film, and new faces for familiar names, as well as histories for them as well. And finally a look into the elite ninja world that is the Arashikage clan.
Snake Eyes is arguably the strongest entry of the three films, though the first is my favorite (just for casting alone), but that stumble halfway through holds it back from being a truly enjoyable entry, and I imagine Hasbro and Paramount have gone back to the drawing board.
That being said, if you are a Joe fan, this one is a must, and it is available now on DVD, blu and 4K from Paramount Canada. Go Joe!