Directed by Bong Joon-ho
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.
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★★★★½ review by Matt Singer on Letterboxd
The best Captain America movie of the year.
★★★★ review by Todd Gaines on Letterboxd
Civilization has gone to shit. It's too cold to survive due to extremely bad weather. Humanity has been reduced to a train. The train has a class system of its own that is heavily divided between the rich and the poor. The rich prey on the poor in many ways. When enough is enough Captain America leads a ragtag group of rebels to the front of the train in Joon-ho Bong's English language debut. Al Gore was right? Chris Evans's beanie. Handy hands. Pound down. Spud? The Help. Billy Elliot's ears. Wearing yellow makes you look even fatter. Snow torture. Tilda's teeth. Hammer time. John Hurt is the shit. Extreme Russian Roulette. Parkour? The Weird without The Good and The Bad. Bright light. Train baby. Dead fish. Going all Oldboy on some motherfuckers. Bloody windows. Counting backwards? Why do I like Chris Evans so much? Night vision. Light at the end of the tunnel. Fire motherfuckers. Who is the badass with all the tattoos running around fuckin' everyone up? Fuck! Tilda is annoying in the best way. Greenhouse? School? Propaganda brouhaha. Warm eggs. Overexcited teacher. Closed circuit execution. Default leader. Fuck you Hollywood! Bong does Snowpiercer his way. First Class death. Rave? Real motherfuckers smoke Marlboros. Creepy bald fucker. Dinner with Ed. Your destiny. Proper placement. The Kronole is a powerful drug. Replacement parts. Manual drive. Lucky match. Group hug. Polar bears are cool. Korean to the core Bong's English language debut is smokin'. As a fan Memories of Murder, Mother, and The Host, I must praise Mr. Bong for keeping it real. Chris Evans is a damn good leading man. He doesn't need the Marvel Universe to shine. How fuckin' cool was it to see the Korean Steve McQueen Kang-ho Song owning every scene he is in? Fuck! He is one of the best actors alive. Wonderfully different. Original as a motherfucker. Snowpiercer gives the middle finger to Hollywood and shows the world why Bong is one of the best directors on the planet.
★★★★★ review by Hollie Horror on Letterboxd
I remember years ago when this movie was announced and the fact that Tilda Swinton and Song Kang-ho were going to star in the first English-language film by Bong Joon-ho; I was elated because I LOVE all three people.
Yesterday as I was watching it, I was elated because the movie was phenomenal. The excitement and suspense I experienced had me on edge for the entire running time. Before the movie started I felt a little apprehensive about Chris Evans but it was completely unfounded because he held his own alongside some of my favorite actors. It was also an absolute treat to see Ko Ah-sung again, because I haven't seen her in anything since The Host.
I loved Snowpiercer so much that I unfriended someone on Facebook for saying really hateful, dismissive things about the movie (admittedly, the person was already hanging by their last thread in regards to my patience though, so I'm not completely unreasonable, right?).
★★★½ review by DirkH on Letterboxd
Snowpiercer is a film that manages to stay on track for most of its bloated running time, only to steam ahead towards an inevitable derailment.
Right, now that I've got all the train related puns out of the way, let's talk about this wonderful mess of a film.
As ridiculous as the premise is, Joon-ho Bong's film is fiercely dedicated to it. It starts of with a grimy, disgusting view of life in the tail end of the train that holds the last of humanity. We quickly meet the archetypes required for a story like this. The reluctant hero, the old wise man, the young dog, they're all there. But the way we are introduced to them is where the strength of especially the first two acts lies. We are thrown on this train without information, smack dab in the middle of events that have been brewing for a long time and are about to come into fruition. Gradually, as the plot stumbles on, we are given more and more information, always just enough to keep us satisfied but still hungry for more.
It works. Mainly because of the basic nature of the story. The people in the back of the train want to get to the front and to achieve that they need to open doors to get to a new compartment of the train. Each door represents a new challenge, each compartment new information. It works because of its simplicity and because the surprises and twists each opening of a door brings are practically all either interesting or rewarding. Another thing that happens with each progression is a tonal shift towards the truly bizarre. We get snippets of this when we still mainly reside in the filthy back of the train, but its gets increasingly weird as we move along.
This tonal shift proves to be both a blessing and a curse. It gives us a chance to snigger at the bizarre nature of it all, providing for some great entertainment, spurred on by a seemingly possessed Tilda Swinton who was absolutely hilarious. But the (purposefully?) stark contrast it creates with the more sinister and very serious tone of other main elements in the plot actually detracts from the possibility for some truly shocking drama. And that's a shame as there is some potentially stirring stuff there.
There is also a fairly large amount of static in the script. Some useless trope injections that add absolutely nothing and some unnecessary repetition and character arcs, make it feel like a long haul towards the end. And that end, the very final reveal, is fine. And fine is not really what it felt like it was leading up to. The ending slowly deflates everything that went before it, again dampening any possible shock or impact on its audience. The fact that it loses so much steam (ba dum tish) towards the end is a shame as I really feel it should have gone all out and stuck to the weird vibe that preceeded it.
The interior of the train and the production design of it is absolutely fantastic. But this film is intent on being messy, so as a contrast we get some absolutely horrid CGI, straight from the bargain bin. Everything else looks great though and Joon-ho Bong really creates some fantastic scenes and set pieces, of which a huge fight in the centre of the train is a stand out. He also manages to get a strong performance out of Evans. I've seen Song Kang-ho in a couple of other films and he really has a great screen presence, making him a welcome addition to this cast.
Snowpiercer's messy nature will not sit well with many people, but I really feel the good outweighs the bad here, leaving an entertaining piece of off kilter sci-fi that is worthy of your time.
★★★★½ review by feedingbrett on Letterboxd
Snowpiercer is dense, more so than I had anticipated, its plot initially fuelled by the heated emotions that run through the titular train’s lowest class culture, a desperation for a revolution, to finally end the suffering that has plagued them for 17 years. Its tail to head journey is led by the headstrong Curtis (Chris Evans), radiating leadership and intelligence, appointed by the people as their front in their trials towards the engine, which is manufactured and controlled by a man named Wilford (Ed Harris), a visionary who saw the end of our world in the horizon, constructing a train that is capable of self-sustainment and endurance from the harsh cold climate that exists beyond the train’s walls.
In its first hour, the tension is risen and its adrenaline palpable, we root for the underdog camp as they go up against the outnumbering members of security, ruthless in their profession and sneaky in their tactics; we feel the grit and sweat that masks and drips on the skin of its protagonist, their will to proceed and hope for a better outcome, blood will be shed and director Joon Ho Bong allows the fallen to feel sudden and unclimactic, all the more the sense of threat looms the atmosphere, allowing Curtis’ journey to be a more rewarding one for its patiently anticipating audience.
Its world is creative and highly original, its exposition brought upon sporadically in its first half, feeding our curiosity that never leaves a moment that feels underwhelming, it shifts from focused seriousness to surprising jabs at humour, one that is far less intrusive than anything that the filmmaker has ever delivered, but also not his most strikingly effective. Nevertheless, it was wonderful to see the Joon Ho Bong at a more concentrated mindset, no doubt favouring the Hollywood construction, but unwilling to forego much of his own unique blueprints, as this is still a Bong film, one that still manages to convey wonderful creativity in the midst of compromise.
Many may feel let down by the film’s turn for the intellectual and ambiguous in the film’s latter half, lingering away from the action-orientated energy of the former, exploring its themes further, its characters more vulnerable, and its atmosphere more tamed. It is a test against a viewer’s patience, and for those who allow themselves to be tolerant would find the value in Curtis and Wilford’s exchange, realising the how much is in the balance, the potential trajectories that the film may lead all laid out for us as we observe in eager anticipation, we see Curtis’ character in a light that allows him to be greater validated than one had come to expect, and undoubtedly I was left satisfied, a traditional speech from the protagonist is avoided in the hopes for redemption, his actions simply speaking for themselves.
Snowpiercer is a grand achievement but arguably lesser than Bong’s intimate efforts previously in his career, it conforms to the structure of the Hollywood system, yet its auteur stamp remains intact and would please those unfamiliar of his work and those who are; what he has created is one worthy of praise, fascinating and dense in its thematic and aesthetic content that rarely does one feel bored of its presence. Snowpiercer left me genuinely surprised.
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