Director: Joon-ho Bong
In the future, the earth is now an ice-cube all over and the surviving humans live on a train that never stops running.
But when the lower class (the peeps living at the tail end of the train) have had enough with their shitty conditions, they band together and launch a revolution. The goal? Get to the front of the train and take the power back!
I finally got to see Joon-ho Bong's (THE HOST) first American feature SNOWPIERCER and for better and for worse, the lad got his hooker and ate her too as although the film stars American actors like Chris“Captain America”Evans, its oddball tone, ballsy moves and zany turns were outside of the Hollywood 1-2-3 mold. I dug this sucka as I watched it but I had to sit on it for a while to figure out how I truly felt about it. Yup, it was one of those. After 2 days of randomly mulling on it, here's what I came up with!
Based on the French graphic novel“Le Transperceneige”written by Jean-Marc Rochette, I have to give SNOWPIERCER big points for originality. Setting its post apocalyptic society on a runaway train, one with sections which divided the social classes, was unique to say the least and a clever way to make a social commentary. Joon-ho Bong’s novel approach to the material kept me on my toes and then some as well. He milked lots of tension out of his inventive set pieces, wowed me with the random sudden slow-motion shots that would change the momentum of a moment and when he wasn't going for gritty he was taking the trippy, puff-pufff-pass, highway. A note on the latter point; I couldn't help but think of Terry Gilliam during some of this bad-boy's more “out there” bits. Half of the film came off as grounded in its reality and then you'd have scenes or even moments that would be either A- Odd and devoid of rational, like a foot-soldier with a SnM leather mask on dipping his knife in fish blood before a battle. Or B- Very brightly lit with out there set designs/costumes (kudos to Production designer Ondrej Nekvasil and costume designer Catherine George for their stellar work) that were straight out of an acid trip. Talk about a clash in tone! It made for a compelling mix that somehow worked
In fact, the moment I saw buck-toothed, thick glasses and flamboyant Mason played by an unrecognizable Tilda Swinton, I knew this would be more than a straight forward action/thriller. The directions this one took and the way it went about it back-handed me on more than one occasion. And that was one of the film's key strengths in my useless opinion; its element of surprise. That’s rare in today's cookie-cutter movie world, so it was swell to be taken for a loop now and again here. Performance wise; everybody was in tip-top shape! For the bulk of the film we didn't know much about Chris Evans character. He reacted to what was around him and that was pretty much it. But the flick finally gave up some juice on the lad down the road and Evans was more than up to the task. Very powerful performance. Tilda Swinton was off-putting and gleefully cruel in her role, John Hurt was class as always, Jamie Bell did what he had to do, Kang-ho Song was suave and likeable while hot stuff Alison Pill made an impression as the resident teacher. That's all I'll say about her.
NOTE: There was a left field cameo in the film and it slapped a smile on my face as it was one of my favorite actors. I won't spoil it here; just check the cast listings if you want it revealed for yourself. I had no clue that person was in the film. NICE!
Tag to all that some suspense charged action scenes, a handful of memorable shoot-outs and fist-to-cuffs, an endearing knack at exploring those VERY dark places and gorgeous cinematography (by Kyung-pyo Hong ) and you get a movie that's worth seeing! Not sure how you'll digest it but hey I'll take 5 SNOWPIERCERS over 10 McHollywood products any day.
On the flip-side, the CGI was uneven but to be honest it didn't bother me much, as the ideas behind the special effects wooed me, so I went with them. But I noticed hence I mention it. That's why I'm paid the big bucks i.e. hand-jobs. With that, my biggest peeve with this one was that it had too many WTF moments tagged to its ass. Now I'm not the nitpick type of audience member and I'm pretty good at suspending disbelief, but this one gunned out bits that even I didn’t fully comprende. For example, was it me or did peeps take losing limbs way to well here? I know you've been living in filth forever, but still, losing an arm is losing an arm, it should affect you. Here you'd think people had gotten bitten by a mosquito. And what kind of freaking train were these folks running? Sure, there's a party wagon filled with junkies (Who get high on plastic explosives...uh?). But why would it be placed right before the wagon that held the precious engine? Makes no sense, unless the structure was designed by clowns. And what about the angle with the bullets (gotta be vague to not spoil)? Made for exciting turns but looking back, it makes no sense - lapse in logic to serve the plot. Lastly the ending was a bit too talky for me and also had our hero make one “WTF”choice that left me somewhat baffled.
Look, I think you get the picture. I felt that the flick played by its own rules too much or via NO RULES AT ALL, hence it lost me now and again. But on the whole, I'm happy I saw SNOWPIERCER, it was odder than I thought it would be and it took me a while to process it. I do recommend you give it a shot, just because it is so different. Half mainstream, half art film! Sing it with me now! “I'm going off the rails on a crazy train!”
Although the film was violent and brutal, it wasn't overtly gory. We get severed limbs, a knife in the throat, a bullet to the head, an impaling and some fun with knives and axes.
T & A
None – the most overdressed drug fueled orgy ever!
SNOWPIERCER had a mucho novel premise, the stylish visuals to back them up, visceral action/fight scenes, a stellar cast and a high level of tension. The flick was also unafraid to take chances, to delve into bleak scenarios and to deviate into the all out“weird”for better and for worse. On that; the flick played by its own rules too much for its own good in my opinion, it often elbow dropped logic to serve the plot and the talky ending (with one WTF move) kind of left me on a sour note, but hey what do I know? To be honest, I've been going back and forth in terms of the rating on this one. 7 or 8, 7 or 8. My initial gut reaction was a 7 so I'll go with that. I am sure I would get more from the film after another viewing, but alas that won't happen - no time. So you in the mood for something that plays it on the edge? Hop on this train! I hope you enjoy the ride!
Joon-ho Bong found Jean-Marc Rochette's French graphic novel series Le Transperceneige while in pre-prod for The Host. He read the entire series in the comic book shop. That is how he got hooked on it.
The Weinsteins initially wanted to trim several minutes from the film's ending. It finally didn't happen.
The drawings in the end section of the train were created by the comic artist of the graphic novel:Jean-Marc Rochette.