Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mini Review: Snowpiercer

Bong Joo-ho's Snowpiercer - based on a French graphic novel - has some not-so-subtle things to say about class warfare, but that's an article to be written by someone much smarter than me.  An attempt to reverse the effects of global warming have backfired, leaving the sole survivors of Earth to circle the frozen globe in a self-sustaining train, powered by a Sacred Engine.  There's a cautionary tale in that, but I'm not the man to unravel it.

Instead, I'll just talk about how much fun this movie was.  Curtis (Chris Evans) is leading a rebellion against the powers-that-be.  To do this, he must lead his ragtag group from the filthy rear car to the posh front car.  It was almost like a video game, with each car presenting its own challenges.  Some of them contain puzzles to be solved, with new truths being presented that may disrupt their quest.  Others may be a car full of hatchet wielding maniacs who cut open fish to intimidate their attackers.  Others may contain exposition dumps.

It's a dark action movie, all taking place inside a train barreling through snow-covered landscapes.  It's a post-apocalyptic movie unlike any I've seen.  And, while it's bleak, there is a small glimmer of hope.  It's also a lot of fun to watch.

The acting is terrific.  Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt and Allison Pill are the highlights, but everyone here is great.

I've seen nothing but praise for this, and, while I loved it, I'll preach a little bit of caution.  I don't think it's quite as amazing as the rest of the world seems to think it is.  It’s a bit long and can drag at times, drawing out small scenes to be longer than they have any reason to be.  When I saw this, the hype level was still pretty low.  If I had seen it with sky-high expectations, I would have walked out disappointed.  As it was, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, even if I had some minor issues with it.

It’s not perfect, but it’s still really good.  Keep your expectations reasonable, and you’ll love it.

Rating: 4.5/5

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