Snowpiercer is based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette. (Vol 1. and Vol 2.).
Directed by Bong Joon-ho and staring a boat load of A-list stars like Chris Evans, Song Kang-ho, Jamie Bell, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer, and Ed Harris.
The comic details the life on a constantly moving train called the Snowpiercer and the struggle of the lower, middle and upper class after a unknown ecological disaster has frozen the Earth and all that’s left are people on this self sustaining train. The first volume focuses on the train and it’s class struggle while the second Volume focuses on Snowpiercer 2 and delves deeper into the political infighting along jaunts outside the train to see what’s left of humanity.
Pieces of Vol. 1 + 2 of this comic were taken and made into the movie debuted in 2013 to much fanfare.
The Weinstein Company got the distribution rights for the US but after some lengthy battles between Harvey, the director and load of press about edits it arrived in time for summer 2014 movie season in limited release.
The movie follows the same course but explains pre-credits that man tried to stop global warming but instead it froze the planet. Seventeen snowy years later, a lone train filled the the last remains of society circles the earth. And just like in life things aren’t rainbows and sunshine.
The lower class lives in the train’s tail section and a revolt is being planned by a motley group of Scoobies consisting of Curtis Everett played by Chris Evans along with Edgar played by Jamie Bell, Gilliam played by John Hurt as Gilliam and Tanya played by Octavia Spencer. With nothing exploding in the first ten minutes the character building is focused on and for the most part it works, Jamie Bell especially looked like he was having fun with his surroundings and his character.
If you have Scoobies you must have a villain and that takes the form of Mason played by Tilda Swinton. She speaks for Wilfred who built and resides up at the front of the train. After making an example of one of the tailies, Curtis decides it’s more than time since he has been getting secret messages in the jello protein bars.
The latest tells him to find Namgoong Minsu played by Song Kang-ho and one incident later, the tail section group is on their way from car to car picking strays like Song’s daughter, Yona played by Go Ah-sung. As they progress each car empire builds the microcosm that they’ve been living in for the last seventeen years. From where the food comes from to the water to where the 1%ers live.
Each of the actors give their characters their all, besides Jamie Bell, Go Ah-sung and her wide eyes to the musical number from Alison Pill’s Teacher indoctrinating children.
There are a few character’s like Octavia’s that starts off well but in the end is somewhat one note due to the number of Scoobies getting cut down the farther up the train they go.
The two suited hench villains named Old and Young Franco played by Vlad Ivanov and Adnan Haskovic are worse off than Octavia’s Tanya even if the older of the two pulls a Terminator.
In the end, Curtis reaches his destination and Wilbur, played by Ed Harris explains the empire building on board. This is significantly better than the comics since it makes more sense. If you hated that bit in The Matrix Revolutions when Colonel Sanders explains everything to Neo then stick your thumbs in your ears.
The production design, SFX and music are top notch. The moment where the characters saw the sun for the first time is a it of a let down since we as the audience have seen the outside world. There is no Blade Runner/Dark City moment when Mister Murdock walks out into the sunlight and everyone in the audience winces because they haven’t seen it in 2 hours.
For the pluses there were a scene or two that doesn’t feel right for a Rate R movie. If/when the Blu-Ray comes out with a long cut that will probably explain a bit.
I’m glad Bong Joon-ho directed this movie, if it had been a Hollywood affair from the get go Chris Evans’s character speech at the middle of the third act wouldn’t have happened and he would’ve been saddled with a wife or girl friend.
Having said that, HBO or SyFy this is your next limited series right here. A generational show where one season is group of actors the next season is there kids and show the class struggle. If it worked for American Horror Story it can work everywhere else.
In closing, if you enjoyed Wool from Hugh Howey then Snowpiercer is right up your alley.
Unless you have a big TV, I recommend seeing it in the theater, there are several scenes and shots that are perfect for the big screen.