Sunday, July 6, 2014

Snowpiercer review

According to the movies, the future is going to be pretty damn bleak and depressing.
Totalitarian governments, nuclear fallout, global wars....Our inevitable fate comes in many forms. For certain sociological reasons, movies are much more negative nowadays. Focused on The End. So many films detailing the apocalypse are released. Whether it's The Hunger Games or World War Z, our world seems to be in constant turmoil. Another 'end of world' film has to do something drastically different. It has to be well-done, but also intriguing, smart, exciting, and new. Bong Joon-Ho's Snowpiercer is all those things and so much more. It's an action movie for the ages. The plot of Snowpiercer is cool enough as it is. In the near-ish future of 2031, the entire world has frozen over and most of humanity is extinct. The few remaining survivors have packed onto a giant train that perpetually circles the Earth. This isn't your ordinary train. The train is divided up into classes, or castes if you will. The back of it, the tail, is where the poorest of the poor stay. It is dirty and depressing. The people are hungry and sad. And angry. A revolt is brewing in the air. Then there's the front of the train. Golden, fat, and rich. Instead of starving, these passengers feast on steak dinners and wear decadent colorful clothing. The front of the train is where all control lies. Where the seemingly evil and omnipotent ruler Wilford (Ed Harris) lies. Curtis (Captain America himself, Chris Evans) is a tense and angry man living in the back of the train. He and his friend Edgar (Jamie Bell) are planning a revolt. They have almost the entirety of the back of the train in on it. They're just waiting for the right time. The film starts off with a slow burn, but once the revolt starts, things begin to go bang. Snowpiercer is ridiculously exciting. The thing is, the film only takes place on a train. A big train, sure, but it's still a train all the same. It's impressive how much director Bong Joon-Ho is able to do with the confined space. It reminds me a bit of a foreign action film that came out a few years ago called The Raid. The Raid kept excitement and tension while only taking place in a single building. That's good cinema. Snowpiercer keeps excitement and tension except it takes place on a train. Except Snowpiercer not only is cool and exciting, it has a lot to say. It's more than an action movie. That's great cinema. The film works perfectly well on just an entertainment level. It's got plenty of battles, showdowns, and ticking time bombs for the adrenaline junkie inside you. But it also has things to say about our society and a solid human story. Snowpiercer not only entertained me, it made me feel cinematically nourished. When watching the movie, it soon becomes evident that the train they're on is a microcosm for our society. Films that do things like that can often feel heavy-handed and annoying, Snowpiercer isn't that at all. I feel weird calling a movie like this an epic, but in many ways it is. It's ambitious and magisterial. Epics traditionally take place on a grand scale, like a desert or a large alien planet (think Lawrence of Arabia or Dune). Bong Joon-Ho's direction make the train feel larger than it is. He makes it feel like its own world, because it is in a way. The train is the entire world for the people on board. It's only fitting that it feels that way. The acting here is very solid. Chris Evans is great as the lead hero. He doesn't go too much out of his range, but he holds his own quite well proving he is our next great action star. Tilda Swinton gives what's probably the best performance in the film. She plays a government worker with false teeth and the accent of a English schoolteacher. She's evil, and I wanted her to die the entire time, but she's also very funny and entertaining to watch. None of the rest of the cast really stood out for me. John Hurt plays a kindly and wise old man (a character I felt he'd played before) and Ed Harris didn't do anything I hadn't seen him do. But overall, Snowpiercer is awesome. An intelligent, exciting, and hopeful sci-fi film that we really don't get enough of these days. It'll be one of the best films of the year for sure. I just can't wait to see it again. I give Snowpiercer a 4.5 out of 5 stars. Happy Viewing! Don't forget to throw me a like on Facebook at and follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies.


  1. This film is most certainly ambitious, and very unique and original, not to mention stylish, making it stand out all the more. I'm all for that, and was impressed by this outing. Nice review, Whit. :)

  2. Personally, I felt like the movie could have benefited from more female characters (the entire back of the train is in on this revolt and only one woman joins in, I find that a bit hard to believe) but otherwise it was a pretty exciting thriller. I liked the wide variety of different environments the protagonists encounter as they progress through the train, though one of the best has to be when they go through a bunch of dark, depressing areas and then suddenly enter a bright and cheerful classroom full of children. The revolutionaries just look so out of place after everything we've seen them go through it was kinda funny in a twisted way.

    The other criticism I might have is I was a little bit confused about precisely where they intended to go with the ending. The appearance of the polar bear seemed to suggest that the Earth could be restored but on the other hand only two people are confirmed to have survived the destruction of the train containing all of what was left of humanity. Maybe they were trying to leave it open, I don't know.