Review by @skinnyjoefan
First off let me preface this by saying and those of you who know me know this.
I live and breathe G.I.Joe every single day and have since pretty much 1982.
I have read and re-read the comics and even formed several theories about them.
The first and most foremost thing about Snake Eyes is that he IS the central character in the Hama universe. All the other characters revolve around him. If you build a chart with Snake Eyes in the middle circle you can draw a line to all the major characters as he is connected in some manner.
Despite a couple technical aspects I will touch on in a bit, this is a solid well made movie that will keep you interested for the whole thing.
Is it based on the comic origins? No.
Is it connected to the previous films? No. Although you may say one tiny thread is there. Tiny.
This is as intended an all new continuity. And a damn good one.
Snake Eyes was never my favorite character, he was one of the first figures I bought, but favorite? No.
This version of Snake Eyes and this story follow the hero’s journey.
This is the path that Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow take. The themes of honor and of revenge being a futile pursuit are both in there and those are what make Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes who they are.
No one knows who Snake Eyes is and at the end of the movie we really still don’t although a couple of carrots are dangled.
Anything you have seen about the leaked script, the plot, videos about the premiere are all misleading. I saw none of those rumors in the film.
Hama makes a nonspeaking cameo and actually gets quite a few seconds of screen time. A Gene Kelly moment.
There is a mid-credits scene but no post credits scene.
So here are the technical things I mentioned.
The fight scenes are shot in a very quick cut, shaky manner, I would have preferred for them to be a steadicam shot so we could see the skills that Kenji Tanigaki executed. All that time and work to see that the martial arts were on point and we can’t tell what is happening due to the editing.
Second. Perhaps it was just this theater but the movie is dark. Most takes place at night or in darkened buildings, tunnels, poorly lit areas. Again, it is hard to see what is happening on the screen. Perhaps it is meant that way to involve the viewer in a more realistic sense but I would have preferred the lighting to have been better. This is more of a boon however in the pit scenes as the CGI was a bit lacking in there.
Snake Eyes is not a squeeky clean guy here. He turns on Storm Shadow and the Arashikage to steal the stone. He works for Kenta as a double agent. He must face three challenges to become and Arashikage, the Arashikage are wary of him but still trust him. (They shouldn’t)
The Baroness forms a temporary, very temporary alliance with the Arashikage and Scarlett to defeat Kenta. She fights side by side with Scarlett when Kenta attacks the temple. She also is the reason for the PG-13 rating with an F bomb.
Scarlett and the G.I.Joe team already have a working relationship with the Arashikage. This is necessary to reveal in the end scene where Scarlett recruits Snake Eyes and tells him his father was a Joe. The G.I. moniker is not used in the movie that I recall. They are “Joes” and as is said in the Scarlett promo they are more like the United Nations.
There is a lot of the Arashikage in the movie and very little of Cobra or Joe. Some revelations peppered throughout the movie point to Cobra. The killer of Snake Eyes’ father is a Cobra trooper or mercenary following orders from Cobra. Cobra gives the killer to Snake Eyes as payment for his stealing the stone, but he is not keen on working with a terrorist group and lets the man go, realizing his quest for vengeance is wrong. that the killer was just a soldier for Cobra and is not worth the price to pay for vengeance, realizing what he has unleashed by giving Kenta the power of the stone, he goes back to the castle and tries to stop Kenta from destroying the Arashikage, After his vengeance Kenta is supposed to turn the stone over to the Baroness.
Snake Eyes betraying Tommy and stealing the stone is the reason that Tommy loses the chance to be the heir to the Arashikage leadership. Tommy uses the stone’s power against Kenta and the use of the stone is forbidden. This action causes him to lose his right to lead. Enraged, and not wanting to serve the Arashikage but lead it, he leaves the clan and promises to kill Snake Eyes. The Baroness recruits him in the end credits. He tells her he is no longer Tomisaburo but to call him Storm Shadow, something that is hinted at earlier in the film in a conversation with Akiko.
Very little is revealed about Akiko. She was an outsider, is head of security for the Arashikage, and is very distrustful of any other outsiders. She reveals her scar came from trusting such an individual.
The matron of the Arashikage is not named, but is clearly Obaake Obaasan. She does not however carry bricks in her purse but does carry a mean fan.
Overall this world is built very well and I kept waiting for that groan inducing moment. It never came. Well maybe when they said Yo..Joe… but to be honest the music kind of drowned it out so it was barely noticeable.
If you can put away all your past notions of Snake Eyes and be open to a new continuity you will like this film. I liked it and I don’t even like marital arts movies. I hope to catch some of the things I may have missed because I was engaged in thought during the first showing in a second viewing.