Sunday, July 6, 2014

Snowpiercer [USA, South Korea, 2014]

Nine Things about the Movie Snowpiercer

1. This crazy cool science fiction film is one of the most astounding, violent - and weird - movies of the year.

2. The opening credits frontload the story: In 2014, in order to combat global warming, a chemical was released into the atmosphere to cool the temperature a few degrees. Only it went too far and the planet froze. The only survivors are a few thousand people on a train that continuously circles the globe. The train is divided according to class structure, with the richest people living in the head of the train, and the poorest living in the tail.

3. The movie opens by dropping you onto the train in the year 2031, and lets you figure out the rest of what’s going on by yourself. It gives you the broad strokes, but you have to do some work to figure out some of the details.

4. The main focus of the movie is a revolution by the poor people to advance and take over the head of the train. But as the class warfare escalates, you learn more of the secrets about the train. The story slowly spins outward to encompass a lot of issues and ideas.

5. The movie balances humor, anxiety, fear, chaos, and horror, and places it all on a moving train that nobody can leave. It is a lot darker and more violent than I expected.

6. The mood is lightened a few times by some really weird humor that feels out of place with the rest of the movie, but it’s well done, so you just go with it.

7. The acting is uniformly great. This is easily the best performance I’ve seen by Chris Evans. I didn’t know he could actually act, but I totally forgive him for being Captain America now. And while Tilda Swinton has never given a bad performance, she is deliciously deranged in this movie. This will go down as one of her more memorable roles.

8. Being directed by a South Korean director, the movie was released last year in South Korea, where it broke box-office records. But the American studio releasing the film wanted some changes to make it less weird, not as dark, and easier to understand. The director refused, and there was a battle over the control of the film. The director won, and the movie was released in its original form, although just in a small amount of theaters.

9. Not everyone is going to like this movie. It’s pretty strange. It’s political, psychological, and philosophical. There’s a high body count. It’s both thought-provoking and gut-wrenching. But if you want a science fiction film that is the exact opposite of blockbusters like “Transformers”, then this is what you want to see.