Friday, May 22, 2015

Snowpiercer (2013)

Another day, another post apocalyptic dystopian science fiction film. I admit the luster is starting to wear off on this type of movie, but I keep watching them just the same. What interested me is that you have a Korean director, Joon-ho Bong working with a mostly Hollywood cast including some really talented folks. The concept was unusual and I heard the action scenes where handled really well. So I decided to dive into this dower world and see how it stacked up.

In an effort to stop global warming humankind activates a device to cool the world instead. Unfortunately they overdo it a little bit, and before you can say Woolly Mammoth, there is another ice age and most of humanity is destroyed. Good one! Notice I said “most”, because there is a tiny bit of humanity still surviving.

Before the disaster struck a billionaire genius named Wilford (Ed Harris) constructed an amazing train that could circle the globe and bust through ice and snow. He called it the Snowpiercer. The enormous train is packed with people and a rigid social structure has evolved. At the front of the train are the rich and powerful, lead by Wilford and his efficient major domo Mason (Tilda Swinton). At the back of the train are the impoverished and starving lead by the wise Gilliam (John Hurt) and his right hand man Curtis (Chris Evans). Eventually, Curtis leads a rebellion ageist the tyranny within Snowpiercer, and makes his way to the front. But forces are aligned against him and he will need to make allies, battle hordes of foes and face the harsh reality of Wilford’s genius. In the end will Curtis make the decision to stop Snowpiercer and risk the frozen world, or will he become its new ruler?

Good Points:
  • An innovative concept that keeps the dystopian surroundings fresh
  • Some intense and brutal action scenes
  • A dash of humor and snappy dialogue keeps things from getting too dower

Bad Points:
  • Still this is a grim movie, so the dreary does permeate
  • Some familiar story beats in the “revolution” style story
  • The ending rings a bit hollow 

Overall I enjoyed by trip on the Snowpiercer. The cast works really well and helps deliver an intriguing story with some intense moments. Evans makes a very good hero, one who is more damaged and harsh than Captain America. The visual effects, style and editing are top notch. Well worth checking out if you are in the mood for a darker science fiction film.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 5
Sound: 4
Acting: 4
Script: 4
Music: 4
Direction: 4
Entertainment: 4
Total:  4

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.


  1. I’m not sure what metaphor Bong was going for with the train. Industrial society? Are we right or wrong in the common assumption that leaving the train is not practical in a cold harsh world? Or maybe I’m overthinking it. Maybe he just likes trains. I like that part of Wilford’s plan is to distract the population with class warfare.

    I also gave this one a qualified Thumbs Up.

    1. You make a good point about the meaning of the train. I'm not sure if there was a clear reason behind it. But it certainly was unusual, and I think that it helped add a new element of tension to the plot as well as some visual character to the production design in general (which looked really cool). The reveal of Wilford's plan was pretty cool. Not sure how well it could have worked, but it was unique.

  2. I enjoyed it too, a pretty visual and kinetic experience. I can't remember, did Wilford ascend to engineer/dictator by the same means as Curtis? Is thru brutality and making your way up to the first car the way the ruling class legacy is passed on--a new monarchy to call the shots? I didn't quite know what to think of the ending either--once overthrow happens a new world order takes shape, or do we start all over again dealing with the basic elements of nature, man vs. nature. For sure it offered a lot to think about afterwards, and had multiple meanings.

    1. I don't think Wilford ascended the same way. i believe he was the original creator of the train, but his plan was to have a new powerful ruler plow his way to the front of the train. My wife was dissatisfied with the ending, saying it reminded her of "Logan's Run" where all these people have to start afresh in a hostile environment and are pretty much doomed. :)

      But in these stories death with freedom is preferable to life in servitude.