Hi everyone! Today we’ll be taking a look at the South-Korean sci-fi film Snowpiercer. Starring Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, and Ed Harris, the film is rated R for violence, language and drug content.
Snowpiercer follows a post-apocalyptic Earth in which a failed climate-change experiment sends the world into an Ice Age, killing everyone except for a select few who board the “Snowpiercer”, a train that travels around the world non-stop. On the train, a class system emerge, and Curtis (Evans) and Edgar (Bell) attempt to make their way to the front of the train, evening out the inequalities along the way.
8 out of 10
It’s refreshing to see something so cool like Snowpiercer, even if it isn’t from Hollywood (even if the cast is primarily famous American actors). I definitely would not have seen it if Evans, Bell, or Harris weren’t in it, so the inclusion of famous American actors was a very smart choice by the South Korean producers. It helped that these actors lived up to their regular standard as well. Chris Evans delivered a surprisingly strong performance as a perennial bad-ass on his way to revolt against the remains of humanity. He was brave and sharp, yet had fears that made him vulnerable. I really liked his character for that, even after the mistakes of his past (I would tell you what they are, but it is a bit of a spoiler) cloud his character.
Jamie Bell, Ed Harris, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, and Octavia Spencer all deliver fine performances as well. They are all very unique, interesting characters and my only regret is that none of them (specifically Jamie Bell) receive the same amount of attention and development that Chris Evans’ character does. You might be wondering how I can expect this, since Chris Evans is, quite frankly, the protagonist. And you might be right. However, I just felt a lack of connection and empathy towards the recurring characters, specifically Bell’s and Hurt’s. However, this is not to say their characters are bad: I just wish we could build more of a connection to them. When something tragic happens to them (and let me tell you, a lot of tragic things happen to them) we really don’t feel nearly as engaged as we would with Chris Evans’ character.
The tone and storytelling of this film were very good. It was gritty, dark and exciting. The action was engaging and frequent, though moments were spared for solid, relevant dialogue. There was no superfluous dialogue and every word spoken was meant to further the plot, establish the setting, or just be purely entertaining. It’s great when a movie is straightforward like that: no nonsense.
However, one big thing this film was missing was good effects. The effects in this movie were very subpar, to put it plainly. I won’t go too far in my trashing of the effects since it can be attributed to a relatively low budget, but the outside world did not look realistic at all. Most of the film takes place inside the train, with occasional glimpses of the outside world. Those occasional glimpses didn’t look like glimpses at the outside world, more like glimpses at crappy CGI work. In the end, it didn’t really take anything out of the film, thankfully. But man, would it have added to it.
Overall, I’d recommend checking out this film. It’s an interesting exploration of social classes, with an interesting new take on it the topic time. Though about 20% of it is in Korean, this has virtually no impact on the comprehensibility of this film (if you have subtitles, of course). Snowpiercer is a really compelling, entertaining film that takes risk you will no doubt enjoy.
8 out of 10
We talked about anthropomorphic apes last week so let’s move on to a (even more mature) movie about….people…of different classes…on a train….during the future….which is in an ice age.
As you can see, Snowpiercer is one of those movies that asks the audience to cement some of its logical gaps themselves so they can fully delve in to the world it has to offer (A pretty awesome one at that). In fact, I remember a handful of my friends saying it was “unbelievable” and “so good” but few of them could describe the actual movie.
That’s how complex it is. Snowpiercer has an environment that would take multiple volumes to set up but it must make due with its 120 minute mark; a daunting task that becomes impossible when you throw in character development and even logistically moving the story from script to screen but Snowpiercer does it. And, man, does it do it well.
As I said last review, one of the purposes of sci-fi is to kind of step back to take a look at humans and their quirks. What can humanity survive exactly? Why can’t we, even in disaster, cooperate?
Snowpiercer is one of those one-in-a-million premises that examines these questions (Among others) nicely. The entire setup (Which probably sounded completely ridiculous on paper) just loans itself to a plethora of ideas. This movie gives itself a lot of directions which is a very important virtue. It may sound pretty basic (All of humanity stuck on one choo-choo train? How absurd!) but it builds a complex world around it.
I also enjoyed the use of practical effects and sets. You can tell that the producers didn’t lazily push the actors in front of the green screen; instead, they took the time to build the railcars and effectively created a cramped yet interesting atmosphere. In addition, its harder for actors to do their shop in front of a hanging green sheet instead (See the Star Wars prequels).
And how about Chris Evans? These past two years have been awfully good to him and he finally has someone other than Marvel to thank. Chris Evans is a likeable lead who’s relatively flexible with his roles. In short, he’s come a long way from Fantastic Four and I’d certainly like to see more of him. The rest of cast work very well with their characters also.
Overall, Snowpiercer was one rewarding flick. If you can suspend enough belief to get invested in its premise, you will not be disappointed. I guarantee it.
It’s been a good year for sci-fi, eh?
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%