Review of the Science Fiction movie “Snowpiercer” – Opinion

Spacepiercer Art

AdminCadet:  Just saw the South Korean-American science fiction movie “Snowpiercer” starring Chris Evans, John Hurt, Song Kang-ho and directed by Bong Joon-ho. It’s very hard to describe this movie, it’s such a unique science fiction story. Definitely one of a kind. It takes place inside a futuristic train powered by a perpetual motion engine screaming across a world (our world) covered with ice and snow and desolation. All mankind and life outside of the train is extinct.

On the train, a continual battle exists between the train’s tail-end people (downtrodden, dirty, hungry, desperate) and the progressively more privileged people who live in the many cars heading toward the front of the train. As one reviewer put it – the elite inhabit the front of the train and the poor inhabit the rear of the train. [A really sad commentary on humankind, you think?] The viewer experiences this strange claustrophobic world as our heroes from the tail-end battle their way forward to try and capture the train’s engine and confront the designer and creator of the train, the “Great Wilford”. The “Great Wilford” is rarely seen by the train’s passengers, but he is revered a bit like a macabre Wizard of Oz. Our heroes make this harrowing journey in a desperate attempt to better their terrible living conditions but also, to be frank, to enact revenge for the suffering and death of so many of their own people.

This movie is definitely about the journey as much as it is about the destination.

There are aspects of “Apocalypse Now”, “Brazil”, and a really frigid version of “Mad Max” about this movie. And even that mishmash of a description doesn’t really explain it. It’s a good thing the director had the graphic novel “Le Trasperceneige” by Jacques Lob to base the movie on. Otherwise I have no idea how he would have described this movie when trying to sell it to investors. 😀

Some of the movie, especially the first half, is really fantastic. The acting is excellent. The premise is so unique. The early part of the movie is harrowing and exciting. It keeps you on the edge of your seat. However, I have to say, the movie seems to degenerate into episodes of violent silliness the closer the heroes get to their destination.

Interestingly, I found the movie, in a strange way, to be a weird commentary against mankind’s over-reaction to the threat of human produced global warning, which I certainly didn’t expect (no spoilers – you’ll have to see it to get the premise). The closing scene of the movie seems to really emphasize that point. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but that’s the feeling I got from it… I’d like to find out if there was a real attempt here to push that theme or if this was just a way for the director to set up the movie.

Because of the ups and downs of this movie, I would average out the rating for this movie as a 5 out of 10.  But its definitely worth seeing if just to experience such a unique premise. However, I’d probably recommend waiting to see it at home. There are very few epic scenes requiring a large screen (except for some outstanding shots outside as the train battles thru the harsh landscape) – it does take place inside a train after all. And this will allow you to get up every now and then to shake off your claustrophobia.

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