Summary: It’s been 18 years since a failed global-warming experiment froze the earth and killed off most life on the planet. The few remaining humans live on the Snowpiercer, a train on an infinite loop around the globe. For those at the front, it’s a lavish paradise of drugs and sushi in the lap of luxury; for those trapped in the tail section, life is short and cruel. But change is in the air. Curtis (Chris Evans), desperate to escape the tail of the train, plans an uprising, aided by his mentor Gilliam (John Hurt). What begins as an isolated riot explodes into a mass revolution, an all-or-nothing push to the front of the train, and a war for humanity’s future.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 24th July, 2014
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: USA, France, Czech Republic, South Korea
Director: Joon-ho Bong
Screenwriter: Joon-ho Bong, Kelly Masterson, Jacques Lob (graphic novel), Benjamin Legrand (graphic novel), Jean-Marc Rochette (graphic novel)
Cast: Luna Sophia Bar-Cohen (Magdalena), Jamie Bell (Edgar), Ana Braun (Ylfa), Ewan Bremner (Andrew), Tomas Dianiski (Dark Voice (voice)), Chris Evans (Curtis), Ed Harris (Wilford), Adnan Haskovic (Franco the Younger), John Hurt (Gilliam), Vlad Ivanov (Franco the Elder), Emma Levie (Claude), Ah-sung Ko (Yona), Paul Lazar (Paul), Thomas Lemarquis (Egg-head), Steve Park (Fuyu), Luke Pasqualino (Grey), Alison Pill (Teacher), Marcanthonee Reis (Tim),Sean Connor Renwick (Sergio), Robert Russell (Gerald), Kang-ho Song (Namgoong Minsoo), Octavia Spencer (Tanya), Paul Sungtaek (Chan), Tilda Swinton (Mason), Karel Vesely (Andy), Magda Weigertova (Doris), Tyler John Williams (Young Wilford)
Runtime: 126 mins
OUR SNOWPIERCER REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Adam Ross: You can check out Adam’s Snowpiercer review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #89
Greg King: You can check out Greg’s Snowpiercer review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #89
Sometimes being able to read how a film is going to be received by the public is as impossible as trying to show reasons why Taylor Lautner will one day win an Oscar. On paper Snowpiercer should have been a guaranteed box office success. The film is based on a popular graphic novel, director Joon-ho Bong already had a cult following thanks to his film The Host and the cast list contained the likes of Chris Evans, Ed Harris and Tilda Swinton. You would think those points alone would be enough to put bums on seats, but it didn’t and poor Snowpiercer became a box office bomb returning only about $3 million of the $39 million that it cost to make.
To be perfectly honest there is no reason why audiences should have kept away from Snowpiercer, in fact after viewing it you could well be listing this amongst your favourite films of the year as it hits with the force of The Raid and gets a powerful point across at the same time.
Set in the not too distant future Snowpiercer is set on a special train built by billionaire Wilford (Ed Harris), a man who predicted that humanity’s latest idea on ending global warming would result in the new found ice age that promptly occurred. Now we aren’t talking about some small train here, no we are talking about a train that runs on tracks that run right around the world and actually take a year to circumnavigate the planet. The train is not only home to a myriad of humans but also contains things such as its own eco-system to keep everybody alive.
Wilford though is not the kind saviour that it seems he may be. Instead his train also comes complete with its own ‘class system.’ There and he and his politicians including the power insane Mason (Tilda Swinton) then there are the poor souls that call the tail of the train home. Those such as Curtis (Chris Evans), Tanya (Octavia Spencer) and Edgar (Jamie Bell) who are there to do the grunt work and are the victims of many outrageous tortures and heinous crimes including having their children stolen off them.
Wilford and his band of cronies have always been able to put a stamp on any revolution that begins because of how hard it is to make one’s way from one end of the train to the other. But the new uprising masterminded by Gilliam (John Hurt) has two secret weapons, one of the train’s former engineers, the now imprisoned Namgoong Minsoo (Kang-ho Song) and his daughter Yona (Ah-sung Ko) who possess some special powers of her own.
Now in the wrong hands Snowpiercer could have become a slow burn that just saw countless fight after fight as the rebels went from carriage-to-carriage on their journey from the trail to the front of the train. But here the director, Joon-ho Bong, makes sure that never happens. His visual style is creative despite the set being limited to the train and even his action sequences are a little bit different. Yes he may have captured some of the violence of The Raid but at least his battles don’t become repetitive as the film goes on.
Also pushing this film into the excellent side of the spectrum is the screenplay. A script that not only brings in some truly unique characters like the completely bat-shit crazy Mason but offers up enough suspense each time a door opens to have the audience really wondering what is going to happen next. As each door opens it almost feels like a gamer completing one level and heading to the next while playing a game they know absolutely nothing about.
Likewise the screenplay works because of its obvious metaphor and this is its stance against politics and politicians in general. The class system of the train truly shows that the graphic novel and the film is trying to make a strong point to those people who believe in the oppression that many governments inflict on their people. To the screenplay’s credit it hammers the point home with all the subtly of a hammer yet never once does it get in the way of the film’s plot moving along.
Snowpiercer is also loaded up with acting talent. Tilda Swinton clearly steals the show as she seems to almost lose her own identity playing Mason. Like Helena Bonham-Carter nobody quite plays loopy like Swinton and here she is in her absolute element. She is also well supported by Chris Evans who reminds audiences everywhere that there is more in his acting armour than just playing the clean cut Captain America while Jamie Bell shrugs off all memories of Billy Elliott as he plays the vengeful and quite violent Edgar. It’s just a shame though that some of the stereotypical characters that seep into this film late hold back the acting performances of some of the actors including Ed Harris.
Despite its poor showing at the box office Snowpiercer needs to be credited as one of the better sci-fi films of this year. While the weaker ending does drag it down a little the rest of the film does enough to show that this film is destined to become one of those cult classics that film geeks are constantly telling their friends they have to watch.
Other Subculture Entertainment Reviews of ‘Snowpiercer′: For our full Snowpiercer review please check The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #89.