Henry Golding and Samara Weaving star in Paramount’s “Snake Eyes”.
Again, a stellar cast can’t save the GI Joe franchise from a terrible storyline, critics say.
Paramount’s “Snake Eyes” hits theaters Friday with a “Rotten” score of 41% from Rotten Tomatoes, for a total of 70 reviews.
The film stars Henry Golding (“Crazy Rich Asians”) as Snake Eyes, a rough loner who seeks revenge after witnessing his father’s death at a young age. Fans of the Hasbro toy franchise know the character is destined to join Team GI Joe, a secret organization associated with the US military.
“Snakes Eyes” takes some liberties with the source material, as it replaces the blond, blue-eyed Caucasian ninja in the comic book with Golding, who is of Malaysian descent. In previous iterations, Snake Eyes is also silent, the result of a helicopter explosion.
Part of the character’s appeal was her ambiguous backstory. Much of Snake Eyes’ past is redacted in his records, although it is implied that he had undergone extensive military training before joining the Joes.
“[‘Snake Eyes’] takes GI Joe’s most popular character and totally debunks him until all that’s left is a bland guy with a sword, “Matt Singer wrote in his film review for ScreenCrush. “In the old GI Joe movies, Snake Eyes never spoke. Now that I’ve heard what he has to say, I think I prefer the alternative. “
“Snake Eyes” was Paramount and Hasbro’s attempt to reinvigorate the GI Joe franchise, which failed after 2009’s “The Rise of Cobra” and 2013’s “Retaliation” failed to generate demand, despite castings of stars.
“The Rise of Cobra” reunited Channing Tatum, Dennis Quaid, Christopher Eccleston, Sienna Miller and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and got a “Rotten” score of 34% from Rotten Tomatoes. “Retaliation” added Dwayne Johnson, Bruce Willis, Adrianne Palicki, Ray Stevenson and Elodie Yung and got a “Rotten” score of 29%.
“People generally rank Transformers as the worst franchise based on a line of toys,” Singer wrote. “What ‘Snake Eyes’ presupposes, maybe it’s not?”
Here’s what critics thought of “Snake Eyes” ahead of its theatrical release Friday.
Despite a legacy of “mid-size hits” like “The Godfather,” “Forrest Gump” and “Titanic,” Paramount has spent the past decade producing big-budget franchise tents that have “often avoided clever construction and ‘individuality for generic inverted freight vehicles,’ wrote Brandon Katz in his review of “Snake Eyes” for Observer.
Many critics lamented the film’s thin script and botched attempts at character development, Katz included.
“The script is pockmarked with clichés, tropes and endless predictability,” he said.
Katz noted that the film was shot well by cinematographer Bojan Bazelli, but the impressive fight sequences were often overloaded with shaky camera shots.
Still from “Snake Eyes”.
“Henry Golding has an undeniable screen presence,” Lindsey Bahr wrote in her review of the film for The Associated Press. “He’s handsome, sure. A lot of actors are. But Golding also has that effortless charisma that the biggest movie stars have.”
While many critics agreed that Henry Golding had star power, the charismatic actor had little material to showcase his talents.
“Snake Eyes” “completely understands the appeal of its star,” Bahr said. “Golding just isn’t the right actor for the role. He’s not really bad, just misinterpreted and misused. And despite the novel trims and the flash around him, his character is terribly generic.”
For Johnny Oleksinski of the New York Post, Golding’s performance was as stiff as a “plastic toy.”
“To give him a little slack, however, Golding signed on to horrific material that shouldn’t exist in the first place,” he wrote in his review.
Throughout the film, Snake Eyes connects with an ancient Japanese ninja clan called the Arashikage. To become a member of this clan, he must complete three deadly tasks. However, according to Oleksinski, these challenges are slow and don’t serve the ultimate climax of the story – Snake Eyes becoming a Joe.
At the end of the day, “Snake Eyes” was “slightly better than the relentless vomit” of previous iterations of GI Joe, he said, but still a “no kidding, no fun slog.”
Henry Golding stars in Paramount’s “Snake Eyes”.
The fight sequences promised in the “Snake Eyes” trailer are “full of swords and gunshots,” but “choppy and somewhat nonchalant,” wrote Seattle Times’ Soren Anderson. .
“It is as if [director Robert] Schwentke was running from a checklist of expected shots from action movies and rushing through them all, ”he wrote.
“Snake Eyes” also attempts to incorporate fan favorite characters from the GI Joe franchise, including Scarlett (Samara Weaving) and Baroness (Ursula Corbero). However, they have fallen “so randomly” into the story that their presence is confusing, Anderson said.
“You scratch your head:” Who are these women? “Answer: They are there to set the stage for the inevitable consequences,” he wrote. “Spare us.”
Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal owns Rotten Tomatoes.