Starring: Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt
Director: Joon-ho Bong
Running Time: 126 mins
Snowpiercer is a South Korean film about a the last survivors of a global freeze who board a train, and after 17 years where class divisions on board result in the aggressive suppression of the so-called ‘tail-enders’, a group of lower class passengers attempt to reach the front of the train.
The way that this film turns what isn’t exactly an amazing premise into something so intriguing and exciting was an absolute delight to watch. With great performances all round, an intelligent but very simple story, great action, strong directing, cool visuals and an overall very solid atmosphere, there’s no doubting that this is one of the best sci-fi dystopia movies of recent years.
Basically, going into this film, I had pretty low expectations. A two hour-long movie based around people walking through a train sounded like it would be very repetitive and boring, whilst I worried that the global warming background to the ‘apocalypse’ that forces the people onto this train was going to be an excessively preachy theme that would impede on an entertaining story.
Oh, how wrong I was. There is nothing repetitive about the thrilling journey this group of passengers take through the train; it’s full of insanely weird different worlds on different carriages, there’s a whole heap of bad guys that are lurking at every turn, and every single new adventure/battle is completely new, never trying to emulate what’s happened before in the story, but developing as the characters do.
You might think that the set-up of this story would give it a bit of a video-game feel, and while that idea does creep in at some points, it’s only for the better. This film is full of fantastic action, it’s so much fun to watch from start to finish, and it’s so tense too, because you’re made so plainly aware of the danger of defeat by the presentation of the outside world and the dangers on board the train.
But the reason that this isn’t just a video game action movie is because it’s got such good characters backed up by brilliant performances. Our main hero, expertly played by Chris Evans, is without doubt full of weaknesses, and is an absolutely unpredictable entity within the story, whilst the supporting characters all add brilliantly to a very diverse palette of characters that bring all sorts of emotions and backgrounds to the table, making it a thoroughly engrossing story to follow along to.
One of the main successes of this film is how it creates a brilliantly unique atmosphere. On the one hand, it’s a gritty dystopian future, and that really shines through in some of the more tense parts of the film, but on the other hand, it’s just a really weird, but hugely entertaining world. There’s a lot of comedy and excessive violence that help this film to be a whole lot more entertaining than you’d expect, but it really does have a strangely quirky feel to it, especially for an action movie.
Finally, this film has got some stunning visual effects. This mainly works in its portrayal of the frozen world that the train rockets through for eternity. It’s a majestic and eye-catching image, and it’s one of the main reasons that this story is so believable, and that the premise is pulled off so effectively, so overall, I’ll give this an 8.3.