Snowpiercer (2014)

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Snowpiercer (2014)Starring Chris Evans, Octavia Spencer, Jamie Bell, John Hurt, Alison Pill, Tilda Swinton, Song Kang-ho.

Directed by Bong Joon-ho

Featuring the creepiest choo-choo this side of The Polar Express, Snowpiercer takes place entirely on board a never-ending train ride, in which a dystopian society is trapped on the tracks. While the crowded cars are certainly no picnic, stepping foot outside equals certain death.

Based on a French graphic novel called Le Transperceneige and directed by South Korean visionary Bong Joon-Ho, the hardscrabble horror story takes place in 2031, some 17 years after the end of the world as we know it.

The surviving humans live on an insulated train that travels the world on a seemly endless cycle in hopes that all will be off-board soon. But that’s unlikely. The Snowpiercer has 1,001 carriages, a perpetual motion engine, and nowhere to go — the frozen exterior continues to forbid, forcing the survivors to form a claustrophobic society. When the underdogs revolt, all hell breaks loose.

The ringleaders and chief class-strugglers are Curtis (Chris Evans) and Edgar (Jamie Bell), who gather a band of ragtag freedom fighters – among them old warhorse Gilliam (John Hurt) and washed up brainiac Namgoong Minsu (Song Kang-ho) – and go for the gusto, busting out from their derelict barracks and into first-class. Among the aristocrats are Mason (Tilda Swinton), a shrill, cartoony totalitarian figurehead, and Alison Pill as an unnamed smarmy schoolteacher out to brainwash the kids who were born on the train and know nothing of the outside world. Between the caboose and coveted control center are merciless armies of evil.

Snowpiercer has the look and feel of a classic Terry Gilliam steampunk sci-fi flick. The gritty, grimy texture of it all is captured in its gory glory by cinematographer Hong Kyung-pyo – who does an admirable job of capturing a big, bloody, and brutal battle that looks convincingly like a self-contained war scene from Lord of the Rings, and putting in all inside that narrow locomotive.

It looks great and is well-acted, but there’s a garishness to it which negates any emotional investment one might otherwise have. Between the stilted exposition, poorly wrought special effects, and scattershot storytelling, it’s hard to decide which I liked least as the one-hour mark came and went, and the movie itself began to feel like an endless train ride.

It might play better at home, but Bong’s English debut opened in South Korean theaters on August 1, 2013, becoming the country’s highest-grossing film. It debuts Stateside on June 27, 2014.

2 out of 5

Discuss Snowpiercer in the comments section below!

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Staci Layne Wilson

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    Yeah reviews seem a little Skewed but it’s just personal opinion always going to be subjective. I always like to get my own opinion and that’s the only one that matters to me.

    • Steve Barton

      The best reviews are always your own.

  • Utopia

    Really poor writing. If you are going to tear down a movie by an important genre film maker that is being wildly praised elsewhere, you need to do more than provide a lengthy plot summary followed by a cursory couple of lines about poor sfx and un-elaborated claims of bad story telling.

    Snowpiercer isn’t for everyone but it deserves decent analysis on a site like Dread Central, the movie is thematically complex and the world-building powerful and striking , which in a time of never ending empty headed summer blockbusters is a very welcome change of pace.

    • frank_dracman

      That’s just the way she writes. Go look at her other reviews, they are all very formulaic and brief. Nothing terrible, nothing great. I’ll agree it is kind of a bummer that this movie isn’t getting the attention it deserves here, but maybe another Dreadite will review it. Seems like this one should get another shot, and we’ve had multiple reviews in the past.

      • Steve Barton

        Andrew Kasch is supposed to. Just waiting for it.

        • Terminal

          Looking forward to it. I don’t always agree with Andrew, but his writing is top notch and his reviews at least show effort.

          • Steve Barton

            Andrew’s review has been up for a while now. Not a single comment. You guys! LOL

          • Terminal

            What I do now? Gawsh. It’s not like I’ve been waiting on baited breath here. Plus zero comments doesn’t mean no one read his review, you big silly.

  • Sirand

    Deserves 5 knives! Best film of the year!

  • Diavolo

    I felt completely differently about the film. I was totally convinced by the world that was created, and engaged from start to finish.
    Different strokes I guess…

    • addeisdead

      7/10 on IMBD.
      92% on Rotten Tomatoes
      84/100 on Metacritic.

      We can always debate the merits of these ratings systems, but the fact is that a lot of people, both audiences and critics, liked the movie for what it was. There are always some people who just don’t click with a film. My girlfriend and I saw Snowpiercer and both came away liking it. A 2/5 is almost ridiculous. There are low-budget found footage movies with horrible acting that get 3’s on this site. It’s not a perfect movie by any means, but I thought it was fun and inventive.

  • Haggle

    I agree with the below comment I have seen very mediocre movies get 3 out of 5 on this site and Snowpiercer gets a 2, I completely disagree with this review, you cite your dislike to “stilted exposition, poorly wrought special effects, and scattershot storytelling” I noticed none of that, there were certianly plot holes and the special effects were note Grade A but they are hardly ever used, and Chris Evans monologue towards the end of the film is brilliantly delivered almost all the dialogue concerning past events within the context of the movies world came completely naturally as the movie progressed.

    more often than not I agree the reviews on this website, not with snowpiercer, please see the movie for yourself, smaller original movies like this need to be supported so we can get more of them, I hope this movie does well, it truly is a great film.