Cinema Review: Snowpiercer | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Friday, October 18th, 2019  


Studio: Radius-TWC
Directed by Bong Joon-ho

Jun 27, 2014 Web Exclusive
Bookmark and Share

Set in a future where the Earth has been consumed by a new ice age, Snowpiercer—the English language debut of South Korean director Bong Joon-ho—is the story of revolutionaries attempting to overthrow a brutal caste system in the last remaining human refuge: a massive train that infinitely circles the planet, powered by an eternal motion engine. If the premise sounds a little hard to swallow, that’s because it doesn’t make much sense. The logistics of the world are dubious at best and the backstory is flat out ludicrous. But if one accepts all that as the obligatory opening five minutes of exposition rolls, they’d be in for a hell of a ride. 

Although it is based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, I submit that Snowpiercer is the best video game movie ever made. Chris Evans stars as the determined, lantern-jawed protagonist with a dark secret. Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer and John Hurt are on hand as his two plucky sidekicks and wizened mentor, respectively.  One of their first missions is to break out a drug-addled prisoner—played with sad-eyed cynicism by Korean star Soon Kang-ho—who designed the train’s security system and allows them to bypass locked doors. Their enemies get more colorful and more brutal as they progress, the standout being Tilda Swinton as the bizarre, bucktooth go-between connecting the upper and lower classes.  Many sequences play like the cut scenes from a new Bioshock sequel, especially as the protagonists reach the forward compartments of the train, where their futuristic dystopia gives way to an unsettling Norman Rockwell-inspired haven of absurd excess and cheery propaganda.

Where the film shines brightest is in its textured cinematography and detailed set design; clearly Joon-ho’s true muse is the train itself.  He forces the audience to slog along side the protagonists from the black and grey smeared, Jeunet-inspired caboose to the increasingly mysterious front, imbuing them with the characters’ desire to see what beautiful or grotesque new wonder lays beyond the next door.

Author rating: 7/10

Rate this movie
Average reader rating: 9/10


Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published


Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.