4K Blu-ray Review: Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins (Steelbook)

Blu-ray Reviews, Reviews, Top Story

Before delving into the movie itself, let me touch on the Steelbook case that is home to the 4K release of the film. The front of the case is gorgeous, and perfectly captures the visual vibe of the movie, as well as showcasing the film’s star character Snake Eyes in his iconic attire. Now while the suit only makes a brief appearance in the closing moments of the film, it’s still a smart move to have it front and center here, as it’s one of the most instantly recognizable looks of any Joe, plus it’s just a badass looking ninja costume that also reflects the neon lights of Japan beautifully.

On the back of the case we have Hexagram 63 from The I Ching (the Book of Changes), which G.I. Joe comic creator Larry Hama decided upon when he chose to give Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow matching tattoos. It’s vibrantly showcased in neon light fashion to match the flashy look the rest of the promotional materials went with, and it works as a really nice, simple, yet meaningful to the characters backside to the case.

Lastly, the interior delivers the perfect yin and yang side by side of Snake Eyes and Tommy, with Snake Eyes highlighted with a red glow, and Tommy Storm Shadow’s signature white. The promotional material for the film had Hexagram 63 in the background of each character, glowing in their respective colour, however that may have come off as a bit too busy on the inside and also felt redundant to the piece already being used on the back. As it stands, the inside is simple, with the characters popping against the shadowy backdrop. I love that they used these two in this way over simply taking a scene from the film.

Overall this is a great looking Steelbook for fans of the film, or fans of G.I. Joe who are looking for that little something extra from this release. The front truly shines and just screams for attention when you look at it, and if anything is just makes you want a sequel all the more just so that we get more of Snake Eyes in the actual suit. Now, on to the review of the film itself.

Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins delivers pretty much exactly what you’d expect when signing up to watch a PG-rated G.I. Joe movie, and that’s not a bad thing. What is unfortunate is that there are times throughout where it feels as though this movie had the potential to be more, but it instead falls victim to simply following various tropes and clichés that leave it being just an entertaining, yet predictable popcorn flick instead of an action movie with any real substance.

The film follows Snake Eyes (Henry Golding) who at this point in time is not the silent hero that Joe fans may be used to. No, here Snake Eyes is thirsty for revenge after his father was murdered 20 years prior. Snake Eyes has no real idea as to how to go about finding his father’s killer, so he just survives by hustling underground fight scenes to make ends meet before they get wise and he moves on to the next. It’s after one of these bouts that he’s confronted by Kenta Takamura (Takehiro Hira,) a powerful yakuza boss who wants Snake Eyes to come work for him. While Snake Eyes isn’t interested, Kenta says that he can help him find his father’s killer, and that’s just something Snake Eyes can’t pass up.

Now working down at the docks, word of a spy has come forth and Snake Eyes is told by Kenta to kill Kenta’s cousin, Tommy (Andrew Koji,) but he can’t do it. Kenta is disappointed, and orders his men to kill them both. The duo beat down all the yakuza that come at them and escape after a few close calls. Grateful for saving his life, Tommy brings Snake Eyes back to Japan with him and a chance to join the Arashikage, an ancient Japanese clan devoted to preserving order and battling evil.

The moment I thought that the movie could’ve been something more is when the pair arrive in Japan and Tommy begins to tell Snake Eyes about the ways of the Arashikage and his plans for the clan once he takes over. He tells Snake about how he and Kenta were both next in line to lead and that Kenta was banished after attempting to kill Tommy. While Snake Eyes is an outsider, Tommy vouches for him and pushes for him to be allowed to take the three tests that – if passed – would see him welcomed as a member of the clan.

Through these scenes in a beautiful Japanese locale I got vibes of The Last Samurai, as the film took on a bit more of a dramatic, calmer tone in these moments, which were surprising and welcome. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into Snake Eyes (outside of a lot of action,) but was pleasantly surprised when it took this turn. In fact, the most captivating parts of Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins come from these moments, as do the strong characters that Snake Eyes and Tommy are built to be. They’re handled so well throughout the first two thirds of the film that when the action fully takes over in the third act it feels disheartening to see how quickly things turn just to prep things for a potentially character cameo-packed sequel.

Let’s touch on the action for a moment, which is fun and gets the job done enough that the movie is always entertaining; however, again, there’s just so much potential for some amazing choreographed fighting that’s held back just to make sure that the PG rating is hit. Now, I don’t expect the film to go R-rated, or push the envelope that much, but there are a lot of harsh cuts and frustrating edits during some of the bigger fight scenes just to make sure the violence that was shown wasn’t too violent and it hurts the overall flow of these action sequences.

The earlier fight where the yakuza take on Snake Eyes and Tommy should’ve been epic! At one point Tommy is taking on 10 guys, and then another 10 or so are coming from the other side of the room so Snake Eyes charges at them, but instead of this being some crazy fight scene that you leave the theater talking about it instead feels rushed and is over before it really even begins. This isn’t a major knock, as again, the action is fine and enjoyable enough that I’d recommend the movie to those interested; but knowing how much stronger the movie could’ve been had the action just been allowed to flow – and I’m not talking blood or severed limbs, just straight up impactful choreographed fighting – is unfortunate.

There’s a post-credit scene that I don’t think needed to be there, and I think the sequel potential would’ve been stronger had it not been. I think that the mythos of Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow is strong enough on its own to carry this potential franchise of Snake Eyes: The Early Years without rushing to involve G.I. Joe and Cobra to the extent they seem to want to add them in so quickly. Golding and Koji have fantastic chemistry, and I personally came out of the movie a bigger fan of Tommy (greatly in part due to Koji’s superb, emotional investment in the character) than Snake Eyes, which I don’t think is that crazy considering how the story plays out; however, instead of leaving things on a strong, emotional note we’re simply presented with the status quo for what’s to come next instead of a potential ninja-ridden blank slate that could have been.

4K Blu-ray Video and Audio Review

Unsurprisingly, Paramount once again delivers when it comes to the 4K transfer of Snake Eyes, as the film looks fantastic. Everything looks clean and sharp in 2160p/Dolby Vision UHD and it’s in 4K where the film’s set design and locales truly shine. There are various fight scenes that are elevated by the beauty of the combatants’ surroundings while squaring off. The neon lights in Japan, as well as various nicely lit locations really stand out, as does one of the more unique sets in the film that’s filled with lanterns, each which signify a fallen clan member.

While a majority of the major combat scenes take place during the night, the yakuza fight scene early in the movie stands out and pops nicely in the daylight thanks to the use of Dolby Vision. Going back to the majority though, the night scenes are beautifully lit and clear while keeping the rich darkness required to sell them the way they’re intended.

The audio is also top tier with Dolby Atmos hammering home every punch, kick, squealing tire and swipe of the blade. There are plenty of moments where the sound travels smoothly from one side of the speaker to the other, and there’s never strain to hear dialogue or inconsistency from on fight scene to the next, be it through sound effects or the score. It’s thumbs up right across the board for both the audio and visuals on this release!

Special Features:

Morning Light: A Weapon with Stories to Tell – This featurette comes in at just over 3-minutes in length, and it quickly tells the story of Morning Light, the sword that Tommy gifts Snake Eyes in the film. It’s told through animation, and is a fun watch for those that are interested in a bit more backstory on the honourable weapon.

Enter Snake Eyes – This featurette comes in at nine-and-a-half minutes in length and gives an overview of different aspects of Snake Eyes in the film. We get various cast and crew perspectives, as well as G.I. Joe comic creator, Larry Hama. It’s an easy watch that kind of skims the surface of everything over delving too deep into much.

A Deadly Ensemble – This featurette comes in at just over 6-minutes in length and focuses on the Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow relationship from the comics and cartoon, how it evolved in this film, and also touches on other fan favourites who were put into this movie, such as Scarlett and Baroness.

Arashikage – This featurette comes in at just under 7-minutes in length and gives a brief history of the Arashikage clan, their beliefs and their duty. We get to look at how locations were chosen and why, as well as some more interested tidbits. Again, an easy watch that adds a bit but not enough to get truly excited about for special features fans.

Deleted Scenes – There are a handful of deleted scenes that come together at roughly two-minutes in length.

Paramount Pictures Presents Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins. Directed by: Robert Schwentke. Written by: Evan Spiliotopoulos, Joe Shrapnel, Anna Waterhouse. Starring: Henry Golding, Andrew Koji, Úrsula Corberó, Samara Weaving, Haruka Abe, Takehiro Hira, Iko Uwais, Peter Mensah, Eri Ishida. Running time: 121 minutes. Rating: PG. 4K Blu-ray Released: Oct. 19, 2021.

Brendan Campbell was here when Inside Pulse Movies began, and he’ll be here when it finishes - in 2012, when a cataclysmic event wipes out the servers, as well as everyone else on the planet other than John Cusack and those close to him. Brendan’s the #1 supporter of Keanu Reeves, a huge fan of popcorn flicks and a firm believer that sheer entertainment can take a film a long way. He currently resides in Canada, where, for reasons stated above, he’s attempting to get closer to John Cusack.