Snowpiercer, film review by Arthur Glover

Snowpiercer, film review by Arthur Glover


***1/2 out of 4 stars

Trying to avoid loud, clanking robots this fourth of July weekend at the movies? Well, then get on board of Snowpiercer, the latest film from Korean visionary Joon-ho Bong. I caught this complex-beauty of a film in it’s second week of release, and I’m a fool for putting it off.  You would be too. This marks Bong’s first English language film, but don’t expect him to let up on the creative high he reached with his other films(The Host, Mother). Despite the film’s scarce flaws, Snowpiercer is an explosively artful take on the post-apocalyptic genre, combining brain, suspense, heart, and ultra-violence. It’s the sci-fi film Michael Bay wishes he could make.

But what’s the plot? Set in the near future, after a failed global-warming experiment has caused the Earth to freeze over, wiping out most it’s population, the lucky few survivors ride aboard the Snowpiercer, a hunk of a train that continually circles the globe amidst all of the frozen waste. Huh? You heard me. Not all of the survivors are lucky. The focus lands on the have-nots, or lower class, led by Curtis(Chris Evans, Captain America himself), who reside in the caboose of the train, where they are forced to eat strange wads of black goop(I’ll never tell the ingredients), and sleep in crowded, rusty bunks. They are separated from the middle and upper class, who live in the train’s luxurious front carts, where entry from the have-nots is strictly prohibited. We open on Curtis as he plots with his fellow crew(played by Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, and a fantastic John Hurt) on how they will fight their way to the front.

What do Curtis and his battered crew plan to do if the front is reached? You’ll get no spoilers from me.  Just be ready  for a terrifically scary Tilda Swinton, who appears as Mason, the spokesman of the middle and upper class. Swinton steals every scene she’s in, notably when her sick twist of a character gives a you’re worthless, we’re better speech, that will leave you howling. It’s this moment, that Curtis and the have-nots decide they will take no more. After this, all bloody hell breaks loose.  Bong cranks the film up in scenes of unbearable tension, as they fight their way to the train’s front. Don’t expect Bong to coddle you. His direction of this dark material will make you sweat.

Violence drives the plot of Snowpiercer. A major fight scene taking place in darkness belongs in the action time capsule. Another scene, when Curtis and crew reach a creepy children’s classroom, will leave you deeply disturbed while your head spins. Of course, non of this would work if it wasn’t to the film’s talented cast. Everybody excels, but respect must be paid to Chris Evans, who takes a break from the Marvel Universe, and gives his best, most emotionally complex role yet.  What the film comes down to, to me anyways, is a visionary homage to cinema, and life itself. Snowpiercer, Bong’s best directional effort to date, is a brutal mind bender that leaves you with the feeling of something you’ve never experienced. In a summer of countless sequels and super hero films, Snowpiercer brings something needed to a dull multiplex. Or maybe you’ll hate it. Either way, this train can not be stopped. All aboard.


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