Post-apocalyptic plots are a dime-a-dozen nowadays courtesy of mainstream favorites like The Hunger Games and Divergent, but Snowpiercer’s a little different. In 2014, an experiment to thwart global warming causes an ice age, and the planet’s remaining habitants retreat to a huge train known as Snowpiercer, which travels on a global track. Throw in a harsh class system that sees the rich and powerful up front and the poverty-stricken in the tail of the train, and oppression is inevitable. This struggle, more or less, is what drives the plot forward (no pun intended). But if that synopsis doesn’t pique your interest, here are a few points that should:
1.) Director of Mother (Madeo): Korean director Joon-ho Bong, responsible for hits like The Host (a monster mash) and Mother (an intense, character-driven mystery) makes his English debut with Snowpiercer, so this is a pretty big deal. He brings the same exciting visual style and energy here as he did with those excellent flicks, which you must check out (especially since both can be seen on Netflix).
2.) The cast: Captain America himself, Chris Evans, leads an all-star cast that includes the likes of Jamie Bell (Turn), John Hurt (Hellboy) and the always excellent Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton), who assumes the role of a deliciously despicable villain known as Mason.
3.) A refreshing plot: Though it’s based on a French graphic novel, the story and set-up are unlike anything to come along in awhile, and Bong is just the man to tackle it, with its ambitious premise and necessary effects. Snowpiercer is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
4.) The R-rating: An uncompromising, muscular vision is just what the genre needs right now among these young adult adaptations. Not only is the violence creative in Snowpiercer, it’s integral to the story (see 0:24 and 1:34 here; and viewer discretion is advised).
5.) Compared to the other sci-fi fare this year: Save for a couple films like upcoming Dawn of The Planet of The Apes and the excellent Edge of Tomorrow, the sci-fi genre isn’t seeing too much at the cinemas (not counting the slew of Marvel heroes). So, although its release is only limited (hopefully that will change courtesy of box office numbers/distribution), you can go ahead and sub out another bloated Transformers for the composed, exciting sci-fi flick that is Snowpiercer.
With the critical response and finesse of Snowpiercer, we can only hope for more like it in the genre (I’m looking at you Lucy), especially as this will establish Bong as a force to be reckoned with in Western film; he might have made the best sci-fi flick of 2014.