Snowpiercer (2013)

Snowpiercer (2013)
  • Time: 126 min
  • Genre: Action | Drama | Sci-Fi
  • Director: Joon-ho Bong
  • Cast: Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Kang-ho Song, Jamie Bell, Ed Harris


The surviving members of humanity struggle to survive amidst a world covered in ice on a supertrain where the poor and the rich are constantly at odds in the English-language debut of filmmaker Bong Joon-ho (The Host). In a future where a failed global-warming experiment kills off most life on the planet, a class system evolves aboard the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe via a perpetual-motion engine. Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton star.


  • (Rating: 4,5 / 5) Want to see something better than “The Hunger Games”? “Snowpiercer” is the solution. In recent times there has emerged a tendency to imagine universes with pro-socialist allegories, a trend driven by the success of the Suzanne Collins saga. Thus we have “Divergent”; “Elysium” and now “Snowpiercer” which is the best of the lot. This genus was common in the 70s and 80s (in fact the graphic novel on which this film is based made in the 80s), but the new century likes to live in the past and fetishes, so with a bit of updating we have class struggles. All this can be annoying in a sense and has invaded almost all the arts (from cinema to music), since there is an excessive didactic in the creatives, as if they were too excited and willing teenage students to show their concern and knowledge about the contemporary political situation; thus reduce everything to hyper-simple and two-pole terms: rich vs poor. But if one is subtracted from this, are entertaining movies where force and cynicism of the message is more powerful than the preciousness of it

    (Warning: the review contains Spoilers) At one point, the argument of “Snowpiercer” seems like Final Fantasy VII, but without the exuberance; but nevertheless there are many influences that one can cite here (not only “Metropolis”). If one were to dictate a path of influence, “Snowpiercer” is “Big Brother” + a version without aliens of “District 9”, with droplets of “Men Behind the Sun”, and all this under the guise of a natural disasters movie. The argument sets a devastated world where it is not possible terrestrial life at ground; but existed before the devastation a train that runs through a perpetual engine that keeps the entire world population surviving the disaster. It is a train built by a billionaire and which only the wealthy can pay their ticket. However, in an act of “generosity” the owner of the train has left few survivors middle class be saved. But this act of humanity is mere surface feel to leave happy the heart of rich with their solidarity, as they have weathered the minimum conditions of dignity of these individuals are not wealthy, all stacked, giving a protein bar every day without other food, depriving them of normal hygiene, and as will be clarified in the course of the film , enslaving some. So Chris Evans mades ​​a revolution within the rail to reclaim control and impose equitable conditions

    Occasionally the film skims the tarantinesc parody, with characters that spout silly speeches (Tilda Swinton), alarmist music in the “hacks session”, etc. But overall it is an excellent film. It consists of the known arc: exposure of dialogues-action. The moments of action and revolt are excellent and too pessimistic (as in “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back”, it seems that nothing goes very well with the protagonists), while dialogic moments contain very good dialogues and do not last long but which are mandatory nexus so the argument continues. In addition, the film contains multi-racial characters as Oriental (remember that humanity is living on the train), which are quite strange to find in a distinctly American film about such issues. And the moral of the movie (the upper class, because their level of insensitivity and economic power, are appropriate control mechanisms for the social order; while the poor or socialists are individuals who believe fight for equality but basically just want to belong to the same elite) is quite plausible and regrettably realistic. “Snowpiercer” is not as good at the actually end of the film (the end of the train, the beginning of life on earth again) simply because does not have enough time to develop as a disaster movie. This, together with the didactic mentioned in the first paragraph, are the two weakest elements of the movie, but hardly damage a work that almost flips to “The Hunger Games” with the same intentions

  • Wow, i honestly did not expect much from this movie from the trailer. The message seemed one dimensional, and the whole ‘action’ bit from the trailer wasn’t really that impressing. Only thing that dragged me to the theater was the director’s name (also the great cast), and i am happy to say that i’m pleasantly blown away by director Bong once again. The movie looked great, the first half was beyond thrilling, the acting for the latter half was just, top notch, the action was bloody and fantastic, and most of all, the ideology behind the story was interesting to say at least.

    I can’t really say anything more than that since saying anything beside the trailer would be a dead giveaway, but really, wow.

    I honestly don’t know how the director’s unique style and choices would get to the American audience, but as a person who enjoys this strange and beautiful execution of director Bong, this movie fulfilled everything i want from Bong’s film an intellectual Sifi movie. It gave me a handful amount of things to think and talk about, and those kinds of movies always give me the best movie experiences. Definitely one of the must watches of 2013.

  • Assuming for a second that the unbelievable, and thoroughly science fiction, premise of Snowpiercer has settled in and stopped the more logical of us from questioning its flimsiness, then the movie isn’t really all that bad.
    South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s adaptation of the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige is often purposely claustrophobic, overlong and takes a while getting its message across. Meanwhile, the screenplay (by Joon-ho and Kelly Masterson), about a train continuously speeding around the world for seventeen years after a scientific experiment has killed mankind, preoccupies its time on building themes.

    The necessity – and sometimes drastic measures – of survival, finite resources, allusion of cannibalism, totalitarianism, division of class, and the desperation of freedom take precedence over racial bigotry.

    Joon-ho’s slow narrative unveiling answers some – if not all – questions that pile up during Snowpiercer’s two hour running time. However, his approach to the material is flawless as he finds ample moments to play up with restricted bizarreness that’s often found with South Korean directors.

    There is pessimistic wit and a clear Western inspiration within the drama – especially when anyone other than the suffering class, talks about the sanctity and near-worship of the “perpetual” train engine; I bet Joon-ho is still getting a kick out of this. He is, without a doubt, slowly inching towards being an auteur. However, right now, he, like the movie, is in progress.

    I doubt if Snowpiercer could be made any better – or with a better cast. With Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer, Ed Harris, Kang-ho Song and Go Ah-sung (both of whom worked with Joon-ho in The Host), the cast is international, who add a mix of over-the-top quirks and emotional weight according to their characters.

    Well, everyone other than a barely recognisable buggy-eyed Swinton that is, who despite any beefy backstory baggage, deserves a whole star of the movie’s rating for herself. Spencer, a single mom whose child is taken by military men without reason, deserves half-a-star herself. Evans gets fewer reasons to smile, as he – and the rest of the supporting cast (excluding Harris, who arrives late as a closure), decide on taking over the train.

    From a technical and producer’s standpoint, the first half of Snowpiercer looks cheaper by comparison. Shot within strict dimensions of a railway compartment, production designer Ondrej Nekvasil’s use of limited light and gray is effective in putting the image of despondency subconsciously foremost in our mind; a side-effect of this, unfortunately, is that it frees Joon-ho from creating an emotional connection with the audience.

    Snowpiercer just simply starts, and keeps on moving forward, until, after a long time, it starts telling us the what, where’s and the why’s. By then, your patience may have dwindled somewhat.

  • Released in the United States via the summer of 2014, Snowpiercer despite its neat opening credit sequence, is a post-apocalyptic seizure of a movie, a real nightmare. Part Mad Max and part 1995’s Waterworld, this is a dirty, violently grubby film that seems to fit the monotoned style of delivering lines courtesy of star Chris Evans. With blood-spattering violence (not to mention queasy, sound-enhancing quality to go along with said violence), what we have here is a flick in which its characters channel the look of down trout homeless people while director Bong Joon-ho provides a claustrophobic setting that’s mediocre (despite harboring good intentions and sored ambition). Do I agree with most of today’s critics who believe this thing is the mark of a future cult classic? Not so much I tell you. Not so much.

    Containing a blustery, wintry setting, a script with enough futuristic jargon to provoke major eye rolling, and action scenes where it’s almost impossible to see what the heck is going on, Snowpiercer takes place circa 2031. The ice age has arrived with Earth being comprised of nothing but sub-zero temperatures and extinct life expenditures. The only living humans ride a large train that continually travels across the globe. What’s strange and at the same time, might make sense in a post-apocalyptic world, is the fact that this elaborate train has a class system. The rich people ride up front (and eat prime steaks) while the poor schleps near the back end eat protein bars made out of cockroaches (yuck!). One man or should I say loner (cantankerous rebel if you wanna get all political) wants to change all that. His name is Curtis Everett and he is played by Chris Evans. The Evans character and his assorted minions want to get to the front of the train. But in their way are the engine’s caretaker Wilford (played by Ed Harris) and his icy second in command Mason (Tilda Swinton). What unfurls is a series of drawn out, dialogue-driven scenes followed by stabbings, shootings, and delectable, frozen arm amputation (hey, what can I tell ya, it’s cold outside).

    So yes, this limited release is violent with funky, nasty characters but it’s also at times, boring. And as you watch Snowpiercer with lots of cartoonish, CGI effects (mainly within the exteriors), you wonder why capable Oscar winners/nominees like Ed Harris and Tilda Swinton would bother to appear in it. By the looks of things, they’re clearly there for the paycheck. I mean, why else would one of them show up in the last twenty minutes spouting off lazy, contrived dialogue while the other gets off on wearing some ugly false teeth. I guess you’d have to ask them. Have fun with that.

    Anyway, for the people out there who felt compelled to praise this film, I employ you, why salute it for its absurdness? For me, what was on screen seemed too weird to be laudable and at the same time, too disheartening to care about anyone involved. Everything in frame is baited to take its gnarly, dystopian estimation and hammer it to levels of utmost ridiculousness (and not in a good way). After a viewing, I thought what a weird, sickening tryst of a movie that despite a capable cast, needed to be put to pasture. Snowpiercer is out of the box film making that will cause you to either take a long shower or put your body through a high-sheeted car wash. It’s a “snow” that’s a definite no-go.

    Check out more reviews on my blog:

  • “They’ve got no bullets!”

    This film was a pleasant surprise for once. Not because of the action but because of the deeper meaning. The train is actually a metaphor of the present world in which we live. A life that goes forward in a swift tempo for many. The train is actually a reflection of a micro-economy with a precisely measured division in different classes. The poor dangling at the bottom of society are in the final wagon in appalling conditions. The wealthier take their place in front surrounded by opulence and luxury. In between is the middle class who can’t afford the excesses as the upper class, but are still considerably better off than the lower class.

    The entire film is set on the high-tech express train “Snowpiercer” designed by a Mr. Wilford. The train is ingenious. It contains an ecosystem to fabricate water from the broken ice where the train drills through and it’s actually a perpetual motion machine that moves on a global railway tens of thousands of kilometers long. This is because brilliant scientists came up with the bright idea to spray a substance in the atmosphere to get the global warming back to normal. This was a complete failure and turned the Earth into a huge popsicle and life became impossible here. Several thousands of people were lucky to get on board of this eternal moving train and wait patiently until life on earth would be possible again. Stopping the train is out of the question and who dares to go outside (My first question that came up was, “How ?” ) turns instantly into an stalactite (or stalagmite! Depends on how you end up outside)

    There is a strict and repressive dictatorial regime to ensure that this society stays in balance. There is an underhand co-operation between the front and rear of the train. In this way milestones are staged to keep the growth of the population under control and the less fortunate retain a glimmer of hope to unyoke themselves.The only contact those poor souls have with the other part is when there is a food distributions composed of block-shaped jelly-like substances. Riots are immediately nipped in the bud and are usually followed with a flaming speech by Mason (played by Tilda Swinton beautifully) who has a sickly adoration and idolization for Wilford. She is a kind of “Effie Trinket” from “The Hunger Games”, only uglier. The final message is that they should be eternally grateful and are privileged to be on board. ” Know your position, keep your position, be the shoe .” That’s the ultimate message. The shoe is used as a metaphor to indicate that they belong at the bottom of the hierarchy and have to stay there.

    This post-apocalyptic SF was extremely entertaining up to the time they reach the water treatment plant. Till then it was a very gloomy picture. A picture we have repeatedly witnessed in our history. From slavery in the southern states of America to Mao Tse-tung. A story of oppression and slavery. The images of ragged people queuing for their proteins and living without daylight in the last wagons. The build up to the revolution and the ultimate breakthrough are successfully displayed. The revolution is led by Curtis, a leader in the making who has a rather dubious past on this train and leads his troops forward on the way to the engine. For who owns the locomotive, is God ! Along the way they release Namgoong Minsu and his daughter Yona. This prisoner who is addicted to “Kronol” seems to be a security specialist and should be able to open all electronically sealed doors. The moment the door opens to a next wagon and they are facing an army of SM-masters equipped with axes, is impressive. Even more impressive as the battle that follows. I ‘m pretty sure that Tarantino spontaneously starts to drool when he sees this scene.

    What follows is a hallucinatory impression. Compared with this the tour of Willy Wonka in his own factory means absolutely nothing. Successively we see a greenhouse where fresh tomatoes are grown ,an aquarium where manta rays swim around, a restaurant that serves sushi twice a year and a colorful classroom where a Maria von Trapp gives history lesson about the kingdom of Wilford. It looks sometimes like a Lynch movie where the screenwriter himself sniffed too much of “Kronol”. There were also times that I had a “Uh what !” reaction. Like when they were shooting with a futuristic looking gun at each other while the train made ​​a seemingly endless huge curve. And the reason why the partying and “Kronol” sniffing in fur coats dressed mass became a bunch of bloodthirsty zombies, was also a mystery to me. I also found it strange that the passengers couldn’t remember anything from their childhood or life on earth. And it ended with a shrewd reference to child labor.The most positive supporting actor was John Hurt as the counselor of Curtis. Most negative contribution was Ed Harris in a Chinese robe. Totally unbelievable.

    More reviews here :

  • Snowpiercer

    I was in Copenhagen last weekend. It’s a small dark city, built upon a series of islands, many of which have been extended into the marshland in between. When I wandered across a bridge, or along a canal, I saw the faces of drowned Vikings, arms reaching up toward me through the sand and cobbles. Like Käthe Kollwitz’s blackest victims, they claw for the light from their sunken longboats. Coarse wooden symbols of innovation and exploration – the boats deliberately scuttled with enormous grey boulders to stabilise the city’s foundations.
    Copenhagen – a city of the young built on the dead. I was without doubt the oldest person within 10 miles.
    Average age 25.
    Average speed was 15.
    Average appearance was wind-blown.
    Women on bikes. Rushing from here to there. Standing up on their pedals so they can avoid rucking their dresses, and so they can get a faster start at the traffic lights. I stand waiting to cross a street, and 50 bikes sail past – the standing women float up and down like the horses on a merry-go-round. Seemingly effortless and unconnected to the world. Their pony-tails and long-bobs flustering in their wake.
    There are men on bikes. They wear baseball caps, grungy baggy jackets and they ride low and powerful. They too are fluent, but not vertically like the women – the men ride effortlessly horizontal. They use a too high a gear, so their feet barely turn as they streak past the merry-go-round women, and on through the red lights.
    Average age 25.
    Average speed 18.
    There are men in the subway too. But these are different.
    They wear light blue collared shirts open at the neck. They have ‘product’ in their foppishly styled blonde hair. Their cotton trousers are too tight. They listen to music and carry their phones ‘in hand’. They stand on the escalator with one foot on the higher step – knee bent.
    I saw these men in the street cafes too. Often clustered in threes – low hairlines, blonde hair swept back and secured. Their perfect skin a lighter shade of L’Oréal Paris.
    They sit at angles. Legs at odds with one another, and one arm resting along the next chair. And usually one of the standing women rolls by on a bike. She throws her stand and they all hug. Her grey patterned silk one-piece waves, shimmers and flows like smoke as she takes the fourth chair.
    Average age 19.
    Average speed 2.
    I’m standing outside the Metro on Christianshavn island. At the edge of a large cobbled plaza. There’s a group of homeless men under the bus-shelter roof. Greasy dark back-swept hair. Leather jackets and dropped jeans. They are having a party. They cluster around beer, and a large speaker tied to a sack-truck which is pumping out trance from a cheap mp3 player gaffer-taped onto the side. There are 6 of them, and others wander up as I watch. They are oblivious of other people, and I don’t feel threatened.
    I do though by the guy stood behind me. He has watched me eating my hot-dog. His overly-wide eyes stare back at me and he seems to quiver. I move and his eyes move to me. I turn to put the sticky papers into a small bucket attached to the stall.
    “What is meta for?”
    Whispered into my right neck. Slightly moist warmth, and I feel the ooze of hairs moving.
    “Is it for clarity? Is it for understanding?”
    I turn, but there’s no one. The man with the haunted eyes is peering around the hot-dog stall – watching.
    This film, Snowpiercer, is a series of visual vignettes. Each tableau is built along the lines of a paragraph structure:
    Introduce; Explain; Summary.
    And these lesser stories are linked by two threads – Wilford, who built and runs the train in which the bigger story develops; and the main guy who is the troubled, unshaven good-looking-guy with two arms.
    Snowpiercer is a post-apocalyptic train racing across the world on rails. It rushes around mountains; crashes through snow-drifts; turns huge sweeping corners on sparking wheels – the inner buggies lifting with each bump in the track – achingly distant from the guiding rails. The carriages above rock crazily and bounce – threatening to explode into the chasm below at any moment.
    Yet inside, there is no indication of movement. All is smooth. The ride is as glidey as the Ashford International, or the S-Tog that runs into the Danish countryside. Or the Japanese Bullet. Or the Korean KTX.
    This is what I should have said to the man with the eyes when he asked me what is meta for.
    ” Meta is for explanation. It enriches the viewer’s understanding of a deeper meaning. In Snowpiercer, the seemingly stable society living in the carriages above is built on rocky and precarious foundations.”
    The story begins in the last few carriages – seedy ‘lower class’ types in grey and muddy green clothing. Straggly hair and limited diet. These ‘smelly-trainers’ are being farmed by what we should call the ‘middle and front-trainers’.
    There is revolt in the air. And in the sewers where the train’s addictive drugs are made.
    And the film follows the troubled-good-looking-guy as he spearheads a violent and philosophical advance towards Wilford. Who is waiting at the front.
    Tableau – 4 carriages forward: A drug user is extracted from suspended animation, and is encouraged to help the advance. But he needs payment – in drugs. And ‘troubled-good-looking guy’ has conflict. Needing the ‘users’ help whilst detesting his Neroesque self-destruction.
    “This is what meta is for. It uses simple and tangible occurrences to explain more complex philosophy.”
    Tableau – 9 carriages forward: The carriage door opens and over the heads of our heroic revolutionaries, we see ranks of jack-booted thugs in black. Facing us. Ready to suppress and kill. And behind them, on a stool is a General, played by Tilda Swinton, who is a screechy Yorkshire-woman with huge teeth and a deep cynical chasm of callousness. And she is why you need to see this film. She doesn’t tell you what is meta for. She is just marvellous.
    And this General stands at the back, with a megaphone, and directs the action, and the killing. Which in true Korean style (yes, this is a Korean-made film), is graphic and horrible.
    “And this isn’t what I mean by metaphor. This is a simile. The Nazi thing. But anyway…”
    And I realise that there is a message woven into every carriage. Each space is different to the one before. Each has its own story to tell. Each introduces; explains; concludes.
    The film gets to Wilford eventually (as does our protagonist) in the engine at the front of the train. And he is hidden behind a curtain, making bangs, waving flags, puffing out smoke, and pulling levers. Or at least, he has little boys pulling them for him. Like the Wizard of Oz, he sits proudly, and yet ignorantly, in his sad and lonely achievement.
    Average age 25.
    Average speed was 250. Now zero.

    “Now that is metaphor…”

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