There are little gems like these that never get the attention they deserve. Luckily I got around to watching it today!
Chris Evans is Curtis, a passenger onboard a highly sophisticated bullet train that travels over the globe. However the train contains the last remnants of mankind after catastrophic climate change freezes the entire planet.
Inside the train’s confines is an entire social hierarchy, where Curtis belongs to the downtrodden peasants of the tail carriage, eating, living and sleeping the worst conditions while others live in luxury. But when Curtis realises the soldiers hold them back may not actually have bullets, a decade after the planet freeze, the time for revolt is at hand.
Snowpiercer is everything most post-apocalyptic science fiction stories are; grim, violent, destitute and usually rife with social injustice and limited resources. But all of this on a train. Some might snort; the premise might well seem far fetched and the film doesn’t fully explore how this train works, but every other question is answered competently enough that the audience quickly get on board.
The cast is dynamic too. Not only do we have Chris Evans running the show in the spotlight but we also get veterans John Hurt, Tilda Swinton and younger star Jamie Bell and Korean star Kang-ho Song. They are all excellent in their roles, especially Swinton as the obnoxious, self-righteous face of the indulged high society.
Visually too the film has a uniqueness all its own. While it may start in the broken, dark slums it goes through all colours (from both high-tech to hopelessly immoral) of what a confined society might have and require to survive.
Of course, this sort of class struggle is nothing new. I imagine a lot of comparison will be made with The Hunger Games, and for fear of being booed and hissed at, Snowpiercer is far superior in terms of implementation and is far more compelling. Of course, full comparison isn’t fair, Hunger Games is directed at a different audience.
Apart from the train’s ability to function in such fearsome conditions not being explained, there are a couple of moments also that had me wondering. For example, Swinton’s character wanted to make a quick speech to the slums, which meant her officers couldn’t translate what she was saying quickly enough. But later in the story we see they have loads of vocal translation devices on the train… Huh. A few unanswered questions like that.
Director Joon-ho Bong was responsible for 2006’s The Host (which also starred Snowpiercer‘s Kang-ho Song) which, not to be confused with Stephenie Meyer’s book adaptation of the same name, is an excellent movie! Snowpiercer is just as memorable.
A must see for any science fiction fan, but also fans of post-apocalyptic action stories like Mad Max or indeed Waterworld, Snowpiercer is a unique and well executed piece of fantasy.