‘Snowpiercer’ Movie Review – First Class Action
Classes within society exist (whether we like it or not) in basically every society. They’ve been around since civilizations first formed. Snowpiercer, Bong Joon-ho’s (Mother) latest film, explores the idea of an unjust class system. The kicker is where and why the system exists. In in the end, Snowpiercer is precisely the action movie we deserve, especially during this time of action blockbusters.
“Snowpiercer” refers to a massive train that spans the entire world. Within this train is a rigid class system that sees the elite in the front and the poor in the tail. This train only exists because of a global warming experiment that went terribly wrong leaving an ice age in its wake.
Snowpiercer is a haunting tale because the conflict, even though it is a global phenomenon, is completely bottled up. We aren’t exactly short on post-apocalyptic movies, especially ones that deal with the class system, but these movies tend to overstep a bit. It is hard to get intimate with the characters when the scale is so large.
Instead, main character Curtis Everett (Chris Evans) has a legitimate mission, to rebel against the elites, rather than the normal cliche, saving the world.
Evans is flanked by some pretty good talent, including John Hurt (Harry Potter), Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer, and Ed Harris, and they’re actually given something to do! Swinton’s performance, given what she has to do and what she looks like, is the standout performance. However, Evans shouldn’t be lost in the shuffle because Snowpiercer is a first good step in getting out of Captain America’s shadow.
In fact, Evans’ strongest scene of the movie, one in which he reveals his past, is exactly where the movie makes the jump from potentially good to definitely good.
Part of the class system conflict is fueled by the idea of sacrifice. Every single character has to sacrifice in some way and the tension and plot progression favors the tail inhabitants. From the overcrowded bunks to the disgusting protein slabs (and what they ate before then), their living conditions are clearly just as bad as living out on the ice.
Snowpiercer is slated perfectly in late June because it does feel like a blockbuster in some ways (particularly with the amount of action). However, the action does seem different – and it is something I can’t really put into words – setting it apart from these aforementioned blockbusters. A perfect comparison is 2011’s The Raid: Redemption but with less action action and much more story.
It also has a style that is unlike most movies. Did I mention the movie was based on a French graphic novel? The comic book style was subdued just enough to seem more real (as compared to movies like 300 and Sin City). The main problem I have with those is that it feels too much like a graphic novel. Snowpiercer balances it perfectly.
As you can tell, I am a fan of Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer. The film adaptation is dark and gritty (something I look forward to as a filmgoer) while finding a different way to explore a common conflict. The setting, both time and place, play a huge role in the film, but it is the sacrifices the characters have to make that help this movie out. I still wasn’t blown away when the movie ended but I could see this being a movie I appreciate more and more as the days, weeks, and months pass.
Snowpiercer is out in limited release starting today. Check it out if you can!
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