Review of 'Snowpiercer'

snowpiercer.jpg We have recently been enjoying the “Snowpiercer” television show on Neflix so when we learned there was a film of the same name from 2013 we decided to give it a watch perhaps in the hope it might clear up some of the back story that we have only just been picking up. In this respect, we have been rewarded.

“Snowpiercer” takes place in a world where global warming has caused humanity to attempt to cool the planet by spraying a chemical into the atmosphere in an attempt to cool the planet. This experiment goes wrong plunging the entire planet into a new ice age. A train containing survivors travels perpetually around the world but it carries also the class prejudices of the world that has been destroyed. 17 years after the disaster we meet Curtis (Chris Evans), a passenger in the “tail” of the train where those who never purchased tickets live and survive eating tasteless protein bars. The tail is treated with contempt and brutality in an attempt to maintain the social order. Those with tickets have an altogether nicer existence in the carriages closer to the front the train. Resentful of the inequality the “tailies” decide to force their way to the front of the train to confront Wilford (Ed Harris). Curtis is eventually persuaded to help them enlisting the support of a drugged out technician. Along the way the experiencing many of the wonders and contradictions that are the Snowpiercer…

An interesting, is somewhat preposterous, film that tells the tired, clichéd, story of class struggle complete with child exploitation. Here the only question is how brutal it is for those on the bottom and how good it is for those at the top. It is a fairly simple plot as the tail fights their way to the front with little time to sit and think about what is going on. There are some nice twists in the story that keep us interested and there is always our wanting to see what wonder is in the next car.

It is the odd tone of the film that distracts with contradictions throughout such as the brutality of the train staff acting in quirky, childish ways, utterly failing to convince. It is not only the characters though, it is also the oddness of scenes such when a group of heavily armed fighters enter a children's classroom. The class continues uninterrupted through several scenes of obvious propaganda, singing (the teacher playing on a revolving piano) and moral ambiguities. The scene ends with the teacher pulling out a gun, soldiers popping out of nowhere, and blood being splattered throughout the place.

I suppose this all reminds me of several Korean films which, I suppose, is to be expected since “Snowpiercer” is directed by a Korean.

The acting is fairly average with some heavy hitters in Chris Evans, John Hurt (as Gilliam, the wise old tailie), Tilda Swinton (as brutal Minister Mason with her distracting teeth) attempting to channel a bizarre combination of Hitler and Olive Oil from Popeye, and Ed Harris (playing Wilford, a one dimensional character at best). It is all a bit weird but at the same time, it is mildly entertaining at the same time. We never know what will happen next and the finale does not disappoint in this respect.

So, a good adjunct to the television series but we find the film no where near as accessible or as full a story. “Snowpiercer” is a good popcorn flick though try not to have any in your mouth when the blood starts splattering on the screen which is, basically, about 70% of the film, er, so, perhaps hold off until the end credits?

Rating: “A bit better than average”

Review Date: 2020-07-26

Directed by: Bong Joon Ho

Studio: SnowPiercer

Year: 2013

Length: 126 minutes

Genre: Science Fiction

Other reviewed films by Bong Joon Ho: