SNOWPIERCER [2013] movie review

July 4, 2014 · Print This Article

It is funny how movies come out of nowhere to appear on my radar, though since I was browsing a mostly movie review website (AICN), it was not surprising that I would discover a little known movie, SNOWPIERCER [2013], that I never heard of at all until this week. The concept is what convinced me to watch it right away. A chemical is released into the atmosphere to reduce global warming, but it goes wrong and creates an ice age that kills off all life, save for a few who ride this train on a perpetual loop across the continents, each loop taking a year. Now that’s an original idea!

This is the first English language movie by Korean writer/director Bong Joon-ho. After watching a Korean movie I will not name a few years ago, which was so sick, so ultra violent I said I would never watch another, I was hesitant a bit, but saw the cast and felt the story could not be as twisted. For the most part, it was not, though it did go overboard especially in one piece of exposition in the end. The end in general was a downer in several ways.

The train, like everything, has a class system. The front of the train is for the “sacred engine” and first class passengers. There are coach passengers, then at the very end of the train are those who did not pay for a ticket at all, but were shown mercy and allowed on. Mercy has to be stretched greatly in meaning to apply as the conditions are horrible, just wait until you find out what their only food supply consists of!

Curtis wants to lead a rebellion and make it all the way to the front of the train, something no past rebellion has ever succeeded at. Through this battle we learn of the intricacies of the train and how in the world it can sustain itself nonstop for over 17 years. The creator of the train, Wilford, is also mythologized into deity status. The engine itself is sacred. I found this to be one of the more interesting story lines.

This is not some Hollywood movie where every makes it through insane battles unscathed scene after scene (think Peter Jackson LOTR movies). Those from the tail section fall, and often, and horribly. The fights are very grim, and very bloody. It is totally not necessary of course. Still, the shock of seeing main characters not survive is refreshing where maybe one character usually makes a sacrifice at the end. That is definitely not the case here.

The last act of the movie veered into MATRIX RELOADED last act kind of crazy. The ending was both predictable and unsatisfying, but at the same time real. SNOWPIERCER is a very different kind of sci-fi action movie that has mind-bending elements of blunt survival realism.

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