Snowpiercer – Film Review
South Korean science fiction film. Probably not a common export from the small country living in somewhat fear from their communist other half, but yet here it is.
Don’t let its origin scare you though, because although it is technically a foreign language film, roughly 80% of the dialogue is English, while the remainder is cleverly placed language barriers.
Staying clear of spoilers, Snowpiercer is essentially a post-apocalyptic story set in the future where a failed experiment to stop global warming has resulted in an ice age which nearly eradicates all life on the planet.
Our story centers on the last remnants of humanity, currently existing only within a train, which happens to be the namesake of the film. This train is fitted with a perpetual motion engine and has been running for seventeen years.
If this is new to you, it’s pretty self-explanatory, but it’s quite interesting and you can read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perpetual-motion
(And if you’re Simpsons fans you may already be familiar with this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwXuVvqUz4g)
Now, this plot itself is already crazy interesting, however, what makes it such a fantastic watch is how the last of mankind developed this really dystopian living within this train. Several castes has sprung up, where the elites live at the front of the train, while the quality of living goes further and further down all the way to the tail of the train.
And our protagonists happen to be living at the back of this train, that is, until a revolt. A revolt where they fight their suppressors and make their way to the front of the train. As they have never left the tail of the train, watching them make their way through each section is almost like going through several Terry Gilliam movies. It’s really cool and bizarre to watch.
It features an excellent ensemble cast of very different actors, all bringing their A game. Chris Evans (Sunshine, Captain America) plays the lead and gives what is without a doubt his best performance. He is joined by Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot, Tintin), Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk about Kevin, Narnia), Ewen Bremner (Trainspotting) as well as the amazing Ed Harris (The Truman Show, The Abyss) and John Hurt (The Elephant Man, 1984) who has been proclaimed, and rightly so, as one of the best actors of all time.
As I said, the film also features Korean dialogue, which comes in the form of another two actors who round out the cast. In fact, I realized after watching this that I had seen them both before, in the only previous film I had seen of the director. That was the 2006 monster movie The Host which became a big hit.
Within the train, tensions are through the roof, and outside the icy landscape create a beautiful image of wonderful desolation. While the climax is perhaps a bit lackluster, the ending can be conceived as quite brilliant as we realize that the human race might not be at the center of things.
Originally released in South Korea in late 2013, Snowpiercer was released in the US in summer 2014 to critical acclaim. If this sounds interesting at all, then it’s definitely worth checking out. It’s out on Blu-Ray and DVD, and will apparently be arriving on Netflix this November.
Keep in mind, Snowpiercer is rated R.