My Big Nerdy Weekend: Lukewarm Takes on Snake Eyes and MOTU Revelation

It’s a big media weekend for nerds, dorks, and dweebs. Masters of the Universe: Revelation was released on Netflix yesterday and Snake Eyes: GI Joe Origins was released in theaters at some point this week. I’m not looking it up because I’m too busy typing this silly blog post.

I usually don’t get around to watching too many new things and the pop culture zeitgeist usually passes me by. Not because I’m “too cool,” but because I’m bad at actually watching both TV and movies. I have a short attention span.

I’m going to keep these Lukewarm Takes relatively short and pretty much spoiler free.

Snake Eyes: GI Joe Origins

I’ve never reviewed a movie before and I’m not really going to try. I’ll just keep it concise. Concise for me, anyway.

Snake Eyes: GI Joe Origins wasn’t great, but I had fun. It was better than I was expecting.

First of all, it really doesn’t do any justice to the comic book and/or toy file card character Snake Eyes’ Origin. People who read the old Marvel Comics see a nuanced character with an important past somewhere in Snake Eyes, but the general public just sees a silent and unstoppable ninja commando killing machine. So, to most people, he’s pretty much a blank slate who wears a cute black ensemble with a silly knight hat.

The movie manages to give that blank slate some pathos and motivation, but not in the way a hardcore GI Joe fan might want or expect. But Henry Golding did just fine, even if his accent slips sometimes. He is handsome, charismatic, and a convincing hand-to-hand combatant.

His relationship with Storm Shadow and Akiko (the Arashikage Clan’s head of security) aren’t deep or moving, but they are fairly believable.

There are plenty of fights, most of which involve ninjas and Yakuza members who all inexplicably have swords at all times. The fights are slightly Above Average as far as B-List action movies go, but they aren’t even close to the level of something like Into the Badlands.

The introduction of the GI Joe team itself (and Cobra, by extension) is pretty cheesy. But Scarlett and the Baroness were my personal favorite parts of the movie. I also greatly enjoyed the Blind Master, the Hard Master, and the woman the internet is calling Ninja Meemaw– the Arashikage Matriarch.

At some point, the film takes a hard turn for Sunbow-inspired ninja mayhem. It transforms from a bloodlessly violent but semi-realistic film into a cartoony, fantasy spectacle. And that’s when I really started enjoying it.

I don’t really think this movie does the “character” of Snake Eyes any justice, and it has nothing to do with the filmmakers making our favorite ninja commando into an Asian American instead of a blonde white guy. Golding does a fine job, and Snake Eyes’ arc is just predicated on him being an American veteran, an outsider who becomes involved with a Japanese ninja clan. The character’s outsider status is important; the character’s race is not.

The film doesn’t really satisfy much of that other than bringing a young American man into a ninja clan, where he certainly is an outsider.

The movie’s plot is flimsy and hardcore GI Joe fans will wrinkle their noses. But it is a competent martial arts action film and, most importantly, it is not an embarrassment. It starts out just fine and gets pretty fun towards the end. Just don’t expect your favorite beats from nearly 40 year old comics and toy marketing material.

Masters of the Universe: Revelation

As much as I wanted it to be, the original He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon wasn’t a big part of my childhood. I could just never find it on TV! Plus, I was too young to experience the vintage toy line. I did love the characters and franchise, though, and my few New Adventures of He-Man toys got a lot of play time from me.

I’ve since revisited that original Filmation series. There are great episodes and waste-of-time episodes, like any other animated toy commercial from the era.

The franchise, at its best, is one of my favorites. I love the 2002 cartoon and the old minicomics. I adore Noelle Stevenson’s She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. There’s a ton of stuff to like about MOTU. Origins is also a toy line I’m really enjoying.

I binged all of Masters of the Universe: Revelation yesterday. And it was good! Yes, Kevin Smith lied to you and the series has women in it. The horror!

It was a fun, inventive, and new take on MOTU. It feels both like the Filmation series and the 200X series in some ways, but isn’t a direct sequel to either. It’s its own thing. The story itself is something that hasn’t been done in MOTU before– it’s not just a rehash.

Some of the dialog is bad, but the voice acting is good overall. I don’t love the art style, but the animation is well done. There are stakes and things actually happen. Both characters and the world around them change. The status quo is kicked to the curb. I enjoyed that!

The fanservice is gratuitous, but also pretty fun. There were a few times I found myself saying “yesss” when a certain character, concept, or playset appeared. There were also a few surprisingly emotional moments.

It’s not as good as Princesses of Power or the 200X series, but it’s better than pretty much every other animated entry in the franchise. I totally recommend watching it.

It should be fine for kids, too, at least of a certain age. There is death and violence. There are a couple stabbings and a little bit of blood. People say “crap” or “hell.” But I think your average 9+ year old could handle it pretty easily.

So yeah, I was pleasantly surprised by Revelation. Kevin Smith did lie to you though and Teela is in the show, so you’d better do your manly duty and take it personally. Let the children’s muscle man cartoon emasculate you for all eternity.

Signing Off

This is just something I felt like writing. As with everything on the internet, you do not have to read it or agree with it.

But if you’d like to discuss these things (WITHOUT SPOILERS), I would love to talk to you in the comments.

4 thoughts on “My Big Nerdy Weekend: Lukewarm Takes on Snake Eyes and MOTU Revelation

  1. Snake Eyes didn’t win a slow box office weekend. Ouch. So much for the Hasbro cinematic universe…again. It will be interesting to see if the new normal takes the blame and Hasbro tries again. Or, if this pretty much dries up Joe as a movie subject.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s hard to say what’s going to happen. I think there were maybe 20 people other than me in the theater (in a fairly big auditorium). It was a Saturday matinee and the earliest showing, but it still wasn’t many people. Not that I minded not having people breathing on and/or near me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. generalliederkranz

    You may have convinced me to see this, but I haven’t seen a movie in the theater in years, since long before COVID, so I’ll probably wait until it’s on Netflix or whatever. I kind of hate keeping up with fast-changing new things so I don’t mind the lack of new GI Joe content lately.

    Someone on Facebook suggested that the only way a new movie could do GI Joe justice is if it were set in the ’80s, as pure retro camp like “Stranger Things.” I would love that (even though I’m too young to actually remember much of the ’80s!) but I imagine it would be dead at the box office.

    I think the ultimate problem for GI Joe media is that the US has been at war since 2001. Back in the ’90s I remember hearing a collector theory that war toys do well when the country is at peace, or at least when there aren’t protracted conflicts. That explains is why the original GI Joes did really well at first in 1964-1965, but had to switch to being the “Adventure Team” as Vietnam heated up. It explains why the ARAH line did well, since Vietnam was over. The line was if anything probably helped by quick, almost bloodless (from the US perspective) victories like Grenada, Panama, and Desert Storm. I remember the huge fervor for war toys in 1991-1992. And this might help explain why the new sculpt line fizzled in 2004-2005, right as the headlines were becoming dominated by the insurgency in Iraq. Ever since then, how do you make a mass market movie about a secret military commando force fighting a fantasy enemy, when the US actually has military commandos fighting and sometimes dying against real enemies, in multiple countries, in messy wars that cause civilian casualties? You’re left with trying to appeal to retro nostalgia, but the mixed reception of the Snake Eyes movie shows the pitfalls of that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by, my friend.

      I feel you. I think the last time I saw anything in a theater was Endgame, and I only begrudgingly went because I didn’t want all the spoilers before I saw the movie. In general I don’t like the movie theater experience. It’s anxiety city for me, just because there are a lot of ill-behaved people creating chaos, and it’s not a normal social situation where you can easily ask someone to shut the fuck up or just excuse yourself from the situation.

      I also don’t love keeping up with new things, which won’t surprise anyone. I am all for new things, but I like to get to them at my own pace.

      You make some very good points about the horror of real world war and what it does to toy brands focused on war. You and I (and folks older than us) can pretty easily separate GI Joe from what’s happening in Iraq or Afghanistan, but not everyone has the fondness for the brand that allows them to do that. I think for GI Joe to really resonate with kids again, and to make average non-fan parents okay with it, it needs to go in a more ‘Adventure Team’ or science fiction direction. They’ve tried the superhero method a few times (and this Snake Eyes movie kind of is that), but I just don’t think it’s the good fit that Hasbro wants it to be.

      You can do a successful team-based action franchise like Fast & Furious, but that doesn’t really sell toys. So I’m not sure GI Joe can both be a successful mainstream media empire and a hot toy property at the same time anymore.

      A nostalgia brand like this can’t succeed when most people don’t have nostalgia for it. The big characters will sell to 6″ figure collectors, and people like us will eat up even more stuff– but GI Joe doesn’t have the cultural clout of MOTU, and it hasn’t successfully updated and reinvented itself like Star Wars and Transformers have.

      It will never be the Cold War 80s again.

      Liked by 1 person

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