Snowpiercer (2013)

I remember watching Snowpiercer when it came out because of Chris Evans and honestly, I was expecting a pretty bad and stupid-ish film. Instead, I found myself watching a very smart, thrilling and entertaining film. I've watched it again, years later, and my opinion hasn't changed a bit.

Bong Joon-ho's film (the director of Netflix's Okja) is set in a future where a climate-change experiment brought another Ice Age. The only survivors live on a train hurtling around the globe. But not everyone is equal on that train. There are indeed first class and low-class citizens and Curtis (Chris Evans), the leader of low-class citizens, is determined to get to the front of the train and spread the wealth around.

The story, based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, is rather simple and illogical -- there's no explanation whatsoever for the majority of the events and there's some pretty ugly shit going on (Curtis is disgusted when he finds out that the protein bars they've been fed with are made out of insects but it was totally okay for him to eat humans) -- and it has (too) many plot holes and still, it has a nice twist and it's interesting and engaging throughout.

I didn't care much for the plot anyway to be honest because what's important here, like in any respectable dystopian work, whether it's a novel or a movie, is the social commentary made, and Snowpiercer is great at doing that. The film is indeed a wonderful portrayal of the society we live in and a criticism of our capitalistic society. It shows the huge gap between rich and poor. While the first is partying, eating sushi and doing drugs, just for fun, the latter is starving and a victim of abuses, violence and oppression.

CJ Entertainment, RADiUS-TWC
Another important aspect of this film is the characters. While there are way too many of them, they are quite stereotyped and the rich ones are pretty ridiculous, the film takes the time it needs to explore their suffering and hunger. The characters themselves aren't particularly memorable but the performances of the actors make them stand out. Evans gives a solid performance as Curtis, the hero who doubts himself (yeah, I know, so clich├ęd) and makes you like the characters in spite of everything. Octavia Spencer also gives a good performance as Tanya, a mother searching for her missing child and so do John Hurt as Gilliam, a semi-disabled wise man who is helping Curtis, and Ed Harris as Wilford, the guy who invented the train and who is pretty much the big brother figure in this. However, Tilda Swinton is the one standing out. She is unrecognizable in the role of a cruel authoritarian Nazi-like figure and she gives a terrific performance.

There was something I didn't like about Snowpiercer though, the violence. I know violence is the ABC of Korean movies and I'm not complaining about that. I'm just saying that it's a little too over-the-top here, there's really nothing new and I believe a different director, Tarantino to name one, could have handled it better. Also, the action sequences aren't very well filmed, but the effects and visuals are pretty good.

6 comments :

  1. I loved this too. There were a few holes here and there but the good outweighed them.

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  2. I loved this one.. I didn't mind the violence either.. And you're right about the social commentary, I think dystopian movies do a good job with commenting issues we have at the moment through some exaggerated plot.

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    1. I'm so happy to see I'm not the only one who loved it. So many hated it :(

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  3. Nice review! Snowpiercer is one of the better dystopians to come out in a while, and I think because of the class issues on the train, it'll be timeless. I wish Chris would do more movies like this. He's not the most dramatic or eccentric actor, but he's not just good looks either.

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    1. Thanks! And you're so right about Chris. He really needs to do more stuff like this.

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