Snowpiercer (2013)

I have to write this right now so I can forget this movie ever happened to me sweet mother of God.

Snowpiercer (2013)
 Dir. Joon-ho Bong
 Writ. Joon-ho Bong, Kelly Masterson
 Stars: Chris Evans, Kang-ho Song, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton
 Rated R (should be rated 'only the strongest among us')
 126 mins.
 Action, Science Fiction, Thriller
 IMDB Rating: 7.0

Assuming you didn’t turn away at the intro, let me start now and say THIS IS AN EXCELLENT MOVIE! My wish to forget it ever happened has NOTHING to do with the film being good or bad. This is one of the best movies artistically and creatively that I’ve EVER seen. The acting, the cinematography, the effects, ALL of it is AMAZING. I do NOT regret watching this movie, it was a GREAT movie, and I cannot express enough how much I liked it.


Let me explain why I don’t even suggest the faint of heart to finish reading my review:

This movie is intense. When I say intense, I mean horrific things done to innocent people, horrific things implied to have happened, horrific things expressly EXPLAINED to have happened in the past, and the whole situations is utterly terrifying. Helplessness and I are not good friends. Dystopian situations and I aren’t good friends. I thought I could handle it to see this wonderful movie so I made it through. But as excellent as it is, I’ll never watch it again. Never in a million years. To me, the ‘end of the world’ scenario where everything is horrible, all hope is lost, nothing will ever be better, surviving is all we can do, ect ect ect? That’s more horrifying than any horror movie ever. I’d rather be dead than helpless. Add to the fact that, as a child of (the edge of) poverty, I identify with the ‘tail end’ people. I know that if it was me in that situation, that’s where I’d be. I would be one of them, suffering forever while the wealthy are surviving happily. That did NOT make it any easier to watch this.

Alright, so Snowpiercer is a South Korean film that is primarily told in English but has a fair bit of Korean in it as well. It’s based on a French graphic novel called Le Transperceniege. It was originally meant to be a wide release in America, but because of some businessy junk (not our focus here) it was a VERY limited release and I only actually heard of it because it was advertised on Pay Per View on DirecTv.

I wanted to watch this movie because it was interesting enough and it had John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, and Chris Evans in it. I didn’t even know it, but Luke Pasqualino, a favorite TV actor of mine, also has a pretty sizeable role in it. I’m telling you all this set-up and ‘Why I watched it’ because I’m actually putting off getting to the review itself.

Here goes…

Without spoilers (as best I can) and without utterly freaking myself out again, Snowpiercer is a movie set in 2031. In 2014 there was an experiment to counteract climate change that went horribly wrong and the world froze. The only people who survived were those who were aboard/made it aboard this luxury train, powered by a perpetual motion engine, that was built by Wilford to be a way for the ultra wealthy to travel the globe like a cruise, almost, circling the whole earth making one rotation per year. The people at the front of the train, the ones who had first class and economy tickets, are traveling comfortably. The train has it’s own enclosed ecosystem that produces everything its passengers need. Those at the tail end are the lucky few who managed to board the train as refugees before everybody else on earth froze to death.

The movie follows Curtis (Evans), Gilliam’s (Hurt) right hand man and the person Gilliam sees as the leader of them all. They have planned a revolution with the help of anonymous notes sent to them in their sustenance, gelatinous protein bars. They plan to make their way to the front and demand that they be treated equally rather than the current class system on the train and their first order of business (after getting past the gates to get to a further train) is to break a man out of prison because he was the one who designed all the doors and gates on the train and can help them break through them (Song).

I can’t tell much more without giving away spoilers, but the movie is BRILLIANTLY done. The progression of the plot as their traveling up towards the front of the train is perfectly paced. The journey is one you can really feel. It’s like you’re struggling along with them. The personal struggles of all of the characters, the relationships between friends (and more than friends, since Bong gave many accounts of character profiles and apparently Grey, Luke Pasqualino’s character, and Gilliam were lovers), is brilliantly laid out, and every time you think you know what’s coming, you have NO idea what’s coming next.

Chris Evan’s acting is honestly the best I’ve ever seen from him. Anybody who has seen him in anything knows he’s a very amazing actor with an incredible range, but this was so much above and beyond anything I’ve seen him in. There are certain lines and the way he delivered them that will haunt me for the rest of my days. There were scenes where he said more with his eyes than his words and that, in my opinion, is the mark of a truly great actor. It was absolutely phenomenal.

I’d love to go through and detail every single actor and why their character was perfect, because there wasn’t a bad actor in the whole movie, but that would take forever and this is already nearing 1000 words, so I’ll just say this:

This is one of those movies you SHOULD see, but if you can’t handle it, I don’t blame you at all. It’s a wonderful film, it’s got an incredible cast, and the critical success it has had was well earned.

My Rating: 9/10

About J. Chelsea Williford

Movie addict, reader, writer, pop culture lover.
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1 Response to Snowpiercer (2013)

  1. I had no idea Gilliam and Grey were lovers. I assumed Edgar and Curtis were though.


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