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Review: Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer
06.24.2014
9 10

PLOT: In the not-too-distant future, the last survivors of a cataclysmic new ice age ride a powerful locomotive known as the Snowpiercer. While the rich and powerful enjoy luxurious lives at the head of the train, the poor and bedraggled toward the rear plan a game-changing revolution.

REVIEW: If this movie doesn't kick butt at the box office, I give up. Not that a film's monetary showing is an indicator of its quality, but all the people whining about craving original genre fare at the movies had better put their money where their mouth is this time, because SNOWPIERCER is the goods. Exciting, clever, suspenseful and intelligent, it's the best adrenaline rush in theaters this summer - and we've actually been having a decent summer.

What makes the film so satisfying is that it's a perfect combination of high-concept sci-fi and thoughtful independent foreign film. The film's director, Bong Joon-ho, has toiled these waters before with THE HOST, which was part large-scale monster flick and part ingenious, subversive satire. With SNOWPIERCER, which was filmed in English, obviously not Bong's native language but you'd never know it, he crafts an almost non-stop series of engaging, edge-of-your-seat set-pieces and punctuates them with notes of somber reflection and Orwellian dread. It's the kind of movie where you'd be tempted to play the "If they made this in Hollywood…" game ("If they made this in Hollywood they'd never allow that scene to get through.") if your attention weren't so completely spoken for by the movie's ceaseless energy and palpable soul.

Many years from now, the Earth has become a frozen wasteland, and humanity's last remnants ride the titular locomotive in a microcosm of class warfare. In the back of the train, the lower classes are soot-covered and starving, forced to toil helplessly as the powers-the-be in the front of the never-stopping train control their every move with threats of violence or kidnapping their children. When we find them, this scraggly bunch has had just about enough, and look to Curtis (Chris Evans) and Gilliam (John Hurt) to lead an uprising. Along for the ride are Curtis' ride-hand man Edgar (Jamie Bell) and Tanya (Octavia Spencer), the latter of which has just had her son taken away by the upper-class, though where the children go is unknown.

Standing in the way of the revolution are various forces; Mason (an absolutely amazing Tilda Swinton) is the smug, scolding Number Two for the unseen Wilford, the mysterious man at the very front of the train who runs the vehicle and the whole show. There are also various gun-toting henchmen and guards to get through, so not only will ingenuity need to be dispatched on the part of the rebels, but a show of force as well. This means several elaborate action sequences as our protagonists attempt to battle their way through extremely claustrophobic confines in order to take the train's engine.

Just wow to all of this. From the very beginning, SNOWPIERCER establishes itself as a visual feast as well as a tale layered with allegorical references; more than that, it's a universal story of the beaten masses taking a stand which will resonate with just about everyone. These are not exactly the most groundbreaking of ideas, but that's what make them stick home with ease. Adapted from the French comic " Le Transperceneige" by Bong and American playwright Kelly Masterson, the movie's stunning visuals and brilliant direction never force aside its strong ideals.

That said, Bong has compiled a top-notch crew to ensure every single frame of SNOWPIERCER is spilling over with incredible detail, from the Terry Gilliam-esque rear - with its various gloomy complexities and quirky characters - to the front, with train cars that go from looking like a twisted Walt Disney nightmare to a Kubrickian vision of antiseptic wealth. It often feels exciting and unnerving to enter each new car, as the landscape continually changes and threats come in all shapes and sizes. Production designer Ondrej Nekvasil and costume designer Catherine George have done outstanding work, and then some, while cinematographer Kyung-pyo Hong seemingly captures every last bit of it.

Bong has assembled as perfect an ensemble as one could ask for. Evans further establishes himself as not only a powerful leading man, but an actor capable of deeper, more resonant moments. (He has an emotional monologue toward the end of the film and absolutely nails it.) Song Kang-ho, so great in THE HOST, is equally terrific here as a wily, grumpy security officer who grudgingly joins the uprising, as long as he's gifted with a powerful, mind-altering drug. Ko Ah-sung plays his daughter, also addicted to the dangerous hallucinogen, and her bright, hopeful visage is one of the movie's few gifts of sweetness in all the gloom. But it's Swinton who runs away with every single scene she's in, her over-the-top accent and cartoon-villain wardrobe consistently fascinating and grotesque. I'm not joking when I say The Weinstein Company should thoroughly consider pushing her for a Best Supporting Actress nomination, so vivid and weird is her performance.

If the movie has a fault, it's in its finale, which stops the previously undisturbed momentum of the journey and settles down for too much talking. I think that on a second viewing this won't be as troubling, but it admittedly stands in the way of SNOWPIERCER achieving total perfection. Nevertheless, it's a magnificent experience, one that will surely litter several Top Ten lists at year's end - mine included. So go see this in the theater, dammit!

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Source: JoBlo.com

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10:33AM on 06/25/2014

Looks great, love Chris Evans and this original story

For once we are getting an interesting and original type of story. A dystopian world all set inside of a long train. Each cart has its class ranking and the trailers just scream style. Glad to hear it was good.
For once we are getting an interesting and original type of story. A dystopian world all set inside of a long train. Each cart has its class ranking and the trailers just scream style. Glad to hear it was good.
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5:49AM on 06/25/2014

Don't understand all the praise for this film.

I liked it don't get me wrong. But the screenplay is riddled with plotholes left and right. To the point where I personally just got really annoyed with the film. BEfore you all come with the backlash I didn't think it was a bad film. Visually it was great, the performances were pretty alright(though I couldn't stand the extremely cartoonish Swinton, but that's just a stylistic choice), music was tight, editing etc. Its just the unbelievable amount of plotholes that makes this movie a soft
I liked it don't get me wrong. But the screenplay is riddled with plotholes left and right. To the point where I personally just got really annoyed with the film. BEfore you all come with the backlash I didn't think it was a bad film. Visually it was great, the performances were pretty alright(though I couldn't stand the extremely cartoonish Swinton, but that's just a stylistic choice), music was tight, editing etc. Its just the unbelievable amount of plotholes that makes this movie a soft seven at best for me.
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1:07AM on 06/25/2014
It could have been slimmed down a bit, but it had great imagination and interesting characters. Still though, nothing to rave about, IMO. 6/10
It could have been slimmed down a bit, but it had great imagination and interesting characters. Still though, nothing to rave about, IMO. 6/10
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11:55PM on 06/24/2014
Why is Joblo reviewing movies from last year, as if they are new? Filth comes to mind immediately. You guys reviewed it recently, even though it came out last year.

Snowpiercer is a very good movie though!
Why is Joblo reviewing movies from last year, as if they are new? Filth comes to mind immediately. You guys reviewed it recently, even though it came out last year.

Snowpiercer is a very good movie though!
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5:50AM on 06/25/2014
Both Filth and Snowpiercer just got released in the United States, instead of last year, when we saw them. (I'm guessing you're from europe as well)
Both Filth and Snowpiercer just got released in the United States, instead of last year, when we saw them. (I'm guessing you're from europe as well)
10:34AM on 06/25/2014
Go on and give yourself a round of applause for seeing movies released in your area a year before they come to the US and other countries.

If you don't like it, go follow some EU review site. It is well known JoBlo is Canadian/US-centric. They review movies when they come out to wherever the reviewer lives.
Go on and give yourself a round of applause for seeing movies released in your area a year before they come to the US and other countries.

If you don't like it, go follow some EU review site. It is well known JoBlo is Canadian/US-centric. They review movies when they come out to wherever the reviewer lives.
7:22PM on 06/24/2014
One of the best science-fiction films in recent memory. I do think also that the ending was a little weak but amazing film overall.
One of the best science-fiction films in recent memory. I do think also that the ending was a little weak but amazing film overall.
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6:09PM on 06/24/2014

Insipid and profoundly pretentious trite of a movie

This is one of those movies that would be BETTER if it was hacked down by 20+ minutes. The lack of logic in traveling from one cabin to the next already completely disregards the authenticity of the rest of the story, and is a perfect example of what's wrong with the flick as a whole. It wants to say and do a lot, but fails to deliver it in a comprehensible manner. Tilda was terrible, no character was anything other than an archetype and it was boring as fuck.
For me: 3/10
This is one of those movies that would be BETTER if it was hacked down by 20+ minutes. The lack of logic in traveling from one cabin to the next already completely disregards the authenticity of the rest of the story, and is a perfect example of what's wrong with the flick as a whole. It wants to say and do a lot, but fails to deliver it in a comprehensible manner. Tilda was terrible, no character was anything other than an archetype and it was boring as fuck.
For me: 3/10
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11:59PM on 06/24/2014
Take your self-righteous ass elsewhere.
Take your self-righteous ass elsewhere.
-1
5:02PM on 06/24/2014
I know I commented on this every other time it was posted, but I hated this movie. Every friggin minute of it. No idea why I finished watching it.
What a piece of garbage.
I know I commented on this every other time it was posted, but I hated this movie. Every friggin minute of it. No idea why I finished watching it.
What a piece of garbage.
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3:58PM on 06/24/2014

OVERRATED

Sorry, this film is VASTLY overrated, and with so many gaping holes in plot and logic to the point of distraction. And what's worst is that moments that are supposed to be really serious and emotional are actually laughable.
Sorry, this film is VASTLY overrated, and with so many gaping holes in plot and logic to the point of distraction. And what's worst is that moments that are supposed to be really serious and emotional are actually laughable.
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-1
3:44PM on 06/24/2014

Wishful Thinking

I really hope this movie does well in limited release that way it is given a chance to catch on to a much broader audience. Haven't seen it yet, but going to go from Long Island into Manhattan to check it out. From everything I have read, and the trailer I think I will be very satisfied
I really hope this movie does well in limited release that way it is given a chance to catch on to a much broader audience. Haven't seen it yet, but going to go from Long Island into Manhattan to check it out. From everything I have read, and the trailer I think I will be very satisfied
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3:31PM on 06/24/2014

A solid 8/10 for me

This movie is awesome. Go see it!
This movie is awesome. Go see it!
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1:50PM on 06/24/2014
Dieing to see this. It looks incredible and something very fresh, and exciting. Hopefully it makes bank and goes nationwide.

Also glad to see Evans doing his own thing while not being Captain America every couple of years.
Dieing to see this. It looks incredible and something very fresh, and exciting. Hopefully it makes bank and goes nationwide.

Also glad to see Evans doing his own thing while not being Captain America every couple of years.
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2:40PM on 06/24/2014
Dying
Dying
5:48PM on 06/24/2014
There's a lot of movies are are wanting to and have seen. You must have a ton of disposable income. Or do you wait until they are on netflix or cheap to rent?
There's a lot of movies are are wanting to and have seen. You must have a ton of disposable income. Or do you wait until they are on netflix or cheap to rent?
7:48PM on 06/24/2014
Netflix and cheap to rent. I also rent or purchase films on ITunes when available.

And to Coman, my bad. Thanks.
Netflix and cheap to rent. I also rent or purchase films on ITunes when available.

And to Coman, my bad. Thanks.
1:40PM on 06/24/2014

Excellent film..

.. but I wonder how well it will do at the box office. It's going to have a limited release, only expanding if it does well, and anyone who really wanted to watch it since seeing the first trailer (like myself) likely imported the Blu-Ray when it came out back in April. =/
.. but I wonder how well it will do at the box office. It's going to have a limited release, only expanding if it does well, and anyone who really wanted to watch it since seeing the first trailer (like myself) likely imported the Blu-Ray when it came out back in April. =/
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1:04PM on 06/24/2014
Yes! I'm dying to see this. The Host was a fantastic film and Mother hits me so hard with emotion. I cannot wait to see film. Great review.
Yes! I'm dying to see this. The Host was a fantastic film and Mother hits me so hard with emotion. I cannot wait to see film. Great review.
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12:09PM on 06/24/2014

Cool...

Just downloaded this the other day because I've been hearing good things about it. Now I'll definitely watch it tonight based off this glowing review.
Just downloaded this the other day because I've been hearing good things about it. Now I'll definitely watch it tonight based off this glowing review.
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-1
12:09PM on 06/24/2014
Like ShortGuy says I really hope you're reviewing a different version of the one I saw months ago. I sat through the film thanks to internet reviews but otherwise I would have stopped half an hour into it
Like ShortGuy says I really hope you're reviewing a different version of the one I saw months ago. I sat through the film thanks to internet reviews but otherwise I would have stopped half an hour into it
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11:55AM on 06/24/2014

Different version?

Is this the same version that came out online about 4 months back? Because that version was a mess. A film with potential but one with tons of flaws and plot holes! Maybe this is a longer cut as the other did seem like it was missing important parts, like if you'd read the graphic novel it would fill in the gaps but a movie shouldn't be like that.
Is this the same version that came out online about 4 months back? Because that version was a mess. A film with potential but one with tons of flaws and plot holes! Maybe this is a longer cut as the other did seem like it was missing important parts, like if you'd read the graphic novel it would fill in the gaps but a movie shouldn't be like that.
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11:40AM on 06/24/2014

Saw it a couple days ago

Definitely needs to make bank, it's unique and interesting as hell (loved the Tunnel Brawl) and Evans was incredible as the lead. A high-ranker for the end of year list.
Definitely needs to make bank, it's unique and interesting as hell (loved the Tunnel Brawl) and Evans was incredible as the lead. A high-ranker for the end of year list.
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11:28AM on 06/24/2014
You've seen Terry Gilliam's rear?!

I'm sorry, I had to. I like the comment about the "if they made this in Hollywood" game, it does look different and risky enough to be really interesting.
You've seen Terry Gilliam's rear?!

I'm sorry, I had to. I like the comment about the "if they made this in Hollywood" game, it does look different and risky enough to be really interesting.
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