Thursday, July 31, 2014

Snowpiercer: Movie Review


All aboard the Snowpiercer for a revolution.
Set in 2031, 17 years after a climate change experiment went awry and froze the entire world, all that is left is a technologically advanced train called the Snowpiercer and its occupants. It’s a post-apocalyptic movie, and yet it’s historically accurate. Take any revolution in history, place it on a train in the future, and you have Snowpiercer. It’s an action movie, but it’s also a thoughtful character piece. 2013

Directed by: Joon-ho Bong

Screenplay by: Joon-ho Bong
Based on Le Transperceneige

Starring: Chris Evans, Jamie Bell and Tilda Swinton

Courtesy of eOne Films.
The main characters are Curtis (Chris Evans), Edgar (Jamie Bell), Gilliam (John Hurt) and Tanya (Octavia Spencer). They are the lower-class civilians at the back of the train living in squalid conditions. Curtis has the plan on how to move on up; Edgar is the very eager right-hand man who would love to be the leader; Gilliam is the old, wise soul who is trepidatious of taking on leadership; and Tanya is a mother who is just going to do whatever it takes, no matter what. This leaves Curtis as the somewhat reluctant leader.

The lower-class civilians at the back of the train are being controlled by the train leaders at the front of the train – the only known one is Mason (Tilda Swinton). They are searching for equality. Determined to get to the front of the train and gain control of their own lives.

The conflicts are in getting to the front of the train –mechanically by awakening a strung-out engineer who knows how to open the doors, knowing what is behind the doors, and then fighting their way through the different sections (or classes).

The Snowpiercer is a high-speed train even if it’s not a fast-moving film. It makes trips around the world; each circumnavigation counting as a year. We also get some impressive visuals of the snow blanketed world. But the action remains on the train.

Courtesy of eOne Films.
The sections that involve full-on fighting and blood splatter can turn off some viewers, but interestingly by this time, I was also really connected to the main characters and was anxiously watching to see who would survive the revolution. The action heavy sequences can also offer time for reflection on where these characters are in life. Curtis and Edgar (who are 30-ish) were teenagers when the world ceased to be the world that we know. They have matured and evolved and gained new experiences since being on the train, but there’s going to be a certain level of education and knowledge which are just missing.

The next sections continue building on the realizations of what life must be like for those aboard the Snowpiecer. And of course the revolution continues. It’s a fight against the class system, a fight against the institution, and a fight to change the world. It’s disguised as a post-apocalyptic, sci-fi action film, but it’s also just a story of revolutionaries.
Best of 2014