Snake Eyes Review

Let’s talk about Snake Eyes.

You know about Springtime for Hitler right? It’s the fake play from The Producers which was designed to be a flop so the producers could actually make more money than they would if it was a hit. Apart from being a great musical, one of the reason it persists is because we all reckon it’s kind of true. There are some films that are released that we are convinced must only be out there because it helps with some tax avoidance scheme by being a flop. That’s where we are with this film.

Snake Eyes is an origin story for a G.I. Joe character. If you don’t know, G.I. Joe was a toy that had a cartoon series to promote it back in the 80s and 90s. It was of its time and is remembered fondly. However when Transformers, which has a very similar history, turned out to be a huge success on the big screen, the powers that be decided to make a live action film of G.I. Joe. What happened were two very mediocre to terrible films which made some money, but not much. So even though everyone has forgot this was even a thing, we have a prequel, Snake Eyes.

Snake Eyes watched his father killed as a child and since then has been motivated by finding the men who murdered him. This entangles him in a family war which sees an ancient ninja clan take on the Yakuza, where he plays both sides to try and get what he wants.

This is primarily an action movie. So while we expect some bad stuff with this being a G.I. Joe movie, surely the whole point of the movie is good? No. No it’s not. These are actually some of the worst action scenes I have ever seen. They are mad, cluttered and seemingly designed to give you some sort of new sickness. I’ve moaned about shakycam a lot before and it’s back here in full force but it isn’t just that. If it was, the action scenes would merely be mad, I’d do a little moan as I normally do, and then we’d move on. The issue is that the director tries to combine this with the recent John Wick style where the camera’s movement is timed to give more impact to already well choreographed fight scenes. This all combines to make a gigantic mess which makes any action scene a nightmare to endure. Well ok the car chase is alright but when the fists start flying, so does the camera and that’s quickly followed by my stomach.

The plot is mediocre. It’s fairly standard with no major surprises and if it does have any intrigue, it is soon diminished when it turns out the movie revolves a MacGuffin which has the power of the Sun. What that means is that it will burn up anyone who the holder wants and also start fires, so that’s nice. Or bad, as the film says is it is. One of the problems though is prequelitus. The great plot intrigue is whether Snake Eyes is a good person and if he’ll choose to side with the villain to satisfy his rage or whether he’ll put that to the side to ally with the good guys. However this a prequel where most people will come into this film with the knowledge that Snake Eyes is a Joe. So that intrigue about whether he’s a good guy or not? Well there isn’t any, because we know! Such is the issue with prequels.

This is a bad film but I want to praise something. The good use of day to night effects. Time to get my teacher’s hat on again, it has bells on because it’s fancy, so I can tell you that day to night is an effect to make it look like night time even though the scene was shot in the day. It’s used because night shoots are expensive, so it makes economical scene to simply use the effect. The problem is that if you do action or quick paced scenes in day to night, they look like rubbish and it’s hard to follow. This film despite the stomach wrenching action, knows when to use it. If it’s a night scene with exposition or something other than action, day to night is used. However when it’s action scene, it’s filmed at night so we can see the fighting. Well in theory, the awful camera work prevents any of that. This is how day to night should be used. Well it shouldn’t be used as it still looks rubbish but if we’re going to have it, do it like this.

Snake Eyes is a pointless film. Absolutely no one in the world wanted any more G.I. Joe films, never mind a prequel to explain the origins of one of the characters. The film is starting at a disadvantage because of that. Then when the opening scene happens and anything with a bit of action is a jumbled mess of cuts and pans which show you absolutely nothing of what’s happening, all patience is lost. The non-action scenes are fairly well done and while predictable, they aren’t too dull which saves this from being a traumatic film to watch. But if this wasn’t a film made to lose money so some Hollywood studio can get out of paying some tax, it’s a failure.

Former Head of Movies for Screen Critics. Film Reviews now hosted on Medium.

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A Guy Who Talks About Movies

A Guy Who Talks About Movies

Former Head of Movies for Screen Critics. Film Reviews now hosted on Medium.

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