As more dystopian future-themed films come and go, one has to wonder how many more movies will studios try to make using this unique but overused idea. Well, we have one here right now, and it comes to us from South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho, whose work includes the 2006 monster movie “The Host.” (Don’t confuse it for the Stephanie Meyer movie of the same name from last year) Probably what people have heard most about “Snowpiercer,” aside from the stellar cast that this film features, is the legal dispute between Joon-Ho and notorious film distributor Harvey “Scissorhands” Weinstein. They were battling for several months over which version of the movie should be released in America, despite the director’s cut receiving nothing but outstanding praise overseas. Long story short, the director’s cut is getting released. The only catch, unfortunately, is that the movie shall be receiving a small limited release from Weinstein’s VOD distribution brand Radius, giving it little to no hope of actually making a solid amount of cash at the box office. The true shame about the whole situation is that, unless people really seek this out and the release is strong enough, then not enough people will be able to catch this, dare I say, incredible movie. That’s right, “Snowpiercer” is an incredible, deep, and thrilling movie that deserves to be seen by everyone who loves the art of storytelling.
In about 20 years from now, the world will be frozen over without the ability to sustain life anymore, and the last surviving race of humans will be living on a mile-long train that’s speeding along all over the planet 24/7, 365 days a year. The front end of the train is reserved for the rich and higher class, and the back end keeps the poor refugees, some of which don’t feel they deserve to be there in the first place. Curtis is one of the many people who has just had enough with being treated like waste, so he manages to plan an uprising, with the help of an elderly mentor of his. Together with a few allies at his side, Curtis travels all throughout the train to get the justice that he believes he deserves. What results for the next two hours is violence, sadness, and pure cruelty that represents many of the hardships Americans have dealt with all throughout history.
The biggest compliment I can give the film is that Bong Joon Ho’s direction and his screenplay, co-written with Kelly Masterson, are stunning. I admire someone who can take the idea of a dystopian future and put his own spin on it, and that’s exactly what Joon Ho has done here. He and Masterson have made a sci-fi blockbuster that also is smart, engaging, and extremely unpredictable, which is something that’s not seen that much today in the average summer movie. Not to mention, Joon Ho manages to get some great performances out of his actors, as well as show a version of the future that hasn’t been seen before. It’s a shame that this movie is going the VOD route, because this movie I bet would be openly received by all wide audiences out there, as long as they are willing to think during a film.
Chris Evans is the star of the film, and he is really good here. His performance is badass, emotional, and some of the best work to come out of his career. Song Kang Ho, Jamie Bell, John Hurt, and Octavia Spencer are also really good in the film, though they’re basically playing the supporting characters helping Evans out on his journey. The most memorable actor in the film without a doubt is Tilda Swinton, as her performance is gritty, irritatingly great, and just downright unbelievable. It might just be the false teeth that she has in, but for the most part Swinton loses herself in the role, further proving how she is one of the most talented actresses in Hollywood. And then there’s Ed Harris, playing the type of part that got him nominated for an Oscar back in the 90s for “The Truman Show.” He pops up in the film’s fourth quarter, and he is quiet, subtle, and yet very commanding in his presence. Having not seen the film’s marketing upon seeing the film, his presence came as a pleasant surprise to me. Everyone overall is great in the film, though it’s most likely Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton you’ll be thinking about when looking back on the film’s actors.
“Snowpiercer” is a movie that not only works as an awesome, action-packed blockbuster, but also as a smart, thought-provoking thriller. It can be compared to “Inception” in that sense, and we all know that people accepted that film with open arms. It’s a shame that Weinstein couldn’t see the true potential that this movie had to be a box office success story, but he thought America was too dumb for the cut being released now, so what are you gonna do? My suggestion: go see this movie. Whether it’s seeing it in a theater or paying to watch it On Demand, this is a film that deserves all the success it will receive in the future. The acting is great, the story is thought-provoking, and Bong Joon Ho shows that he understands how to make a fun action movie with intelligence thrown in as well. If you’re able to check this film out, then please do. Unless you hate thinking during a summer flick, I highly doubt you will regret seeing this movie when you do.
OVERALL SCORE: 9/10