Snowpiercer (Bong Joon-ho, 2013)

What's it about? On a frozen, post-apocalyptic Earth, the only human survivors live on a train endlessly circling the globe at high speed. Trouble brews when the poor passengers in the cramped, squalid tail carriage, led by the brooding Curtis (Chris Evans), attempt to fight their way through the train to take over the front carriages where the privileged rich passengers live in luxury.


Is it any good? If Brazil and The Hunger Games had a baby during a trans-continental inter-railing holiday, it might turn out a lot like Snowpiercer. Jostling for standing room we have elements of sci-fi dystopia, class satire, political allegory, black comedy, action thriller and surreal parable, all within the structure of a violent video game as we move through the various boss-fights of each carriage (level). And I'm struggling to remember the last film I watched in which the hero admitted to eating a baby. A BABY! In lesser hands the absurdity of the concept might have resulted in, well, a total train-wreck, but Bong Joon-ho's ambitious vision has resulted in a bonkers, but beautifully shot piece of cinema - genuinely a one-of-a-kind film. Special mention too to the cast (including Jamie Bell, John Hurt, Ewen Bremner and a terrific Tilda Swinton) who play things admirably straight throughout. It's certainly not perfect, but it's probably the most enjoyable post-apocalyptic, darkly funny Korean-French-American-Czech dystopian sci-fi action film and class satire set on a train I've ever seen. So it is.

I don't trust you. What do others think? There was much excitement in Hollywood about Bong Joon-ho's English-language debut, following the success of his impressively varied Korean movies, including Memories of Murder, Mother and The Host. But Harvey Weinstein, who owned the US distribution rights, couldn't live with Bong's final cut and demanded it be heavily edited before release to make it more accessible to audiences. Bong refused and a protracted tug-of-war over its US release ensued. Bong eventually prevailed and his version was given a very limited release which effectively ruined its chances of being successful. Or did it? It seems that not even Harvey Weinstein knows everything, because strong word-of-mouth and glowing reviews meant that a wider re-release for the film was subsequently arranged to meet public demand. Meanwhile, a similarly positive reception across the rest of the world, both at the box-office and on streaming services, meant that the film did reach an audience. Hooray! It seems people really do want to see something a bit different now and then. And now you can too  - watch it here (but don't tell the inspector!). Or if you're too honest, just read the original graphic novel instead.

What does the Fonz think? Tickets please!! All aboard!!






3 comments:

  1. Matthew2/7/15

    Not much clickity clack clickity clack whoo whooooo for a train. I'm only about 15 mins in though so maybe when the buckfast brigade get on at Lurgan it will be more convincing.

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  2. Lol. Even big budget action films shudder at the thought of the buckfast brigade.

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  3. This is a dark, but deeply beautiful movie, punctuated by edge-of-your-seat thrills and unexpected laughs.

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