‘Snowpiercer’ – A Visually Thrilling Ride | Film Review
Korean director Bong Joon-Ho‘s first English language film Snowpiercer is still awaiting a UK release date. Harvey Weinstein bought the rights to the film back in 2012 but the promised wide release was stunted by arguments over final cut and running time. The film received critical success on release in South Korea and France and Weinstein eventually relented allowing a limited release of the original cut. A UK release date is still yet to be confirmed but with the looming TV series adaptation I decided to seek a DVD and review this lost treasure.
Snowpiercer is an adaption of a French graphic novel set in a dystopian future where the planet has frozen due to human attempts to stop global warming. The remnants of human society are aboard the Snowpiercer train that races round the globe with an elite social class at the front. The lower social class at the back of the train, led by Chris Evans, revolt against their poor living conditions starting a journey through the train towards the engine at the front.
An all star ensemble cast also includes Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Jamie Bell, Song Kang-Ho, Octavia Spencer and Ed Harris. Like the titular train the action rattles along at a breakneck pace with a visually arresting style. Tilda Swinton, complete with menacing Yorkshire accent, represents the privileged class and enforces a brutal limb losing punishment. The plot’s mysteries fall into a number of recognisable dystopian future traits, with predictable twists, but the thrills are found within the journey.
Despite the movement from one carriage to another featuring implausible aquariums, classrooms and food processors it never feels episodic. The sense of dread and claustrophobia is reflected by glimpses of the desolate landscape. A standout action scene, where the train passes through a “f***ing long tunnel“, is a night vision first person perspective, where the lower class revolt is threatened with slaughter by axe wielding assassins.
Snowpiercer challenges the sci-fi dystopian genre with moments of drama and black humour. Amidst the chaos Chris Evans also flexes his acting muscles, with an emotional reveal of the horror the people at back of the train have lived through. Snowpiercer’s visual style and inventive perspective deserves to be seen in the cinema but at the very least deserves to be seen. I would recommend to seek it out where you can and whilst the plot is not necessarily surprising the journey is thrilling.
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