Sunday, July 6, 2014



설국열차 / Seolgungnyeolcha / Snowpiercer


Directed by:  Bong Joon-ho

Written by: Bong Joon-ho and Kelly Masterson, adapted from Le Transperceneige by Jacque Lob, Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette

The Earth has frozen, due to an accident of humans trying to combat global warming with a q uick fix.  All that is left of humanity rides one train making an eternal circuit of the earth.  Rich people in the front, poor people in the back.  Bing bang boom, there's your setup; you don't need to know much more than that since it's not the journey in this case that's the important part but the reaction of the people in the tail to being penned up for 18 years that this movie is about.  Tensions rise, angers flare and tales of old rebellions spur new actions.

What happens next manages to overcome what could have been a heavy-handed commentary and pulls it off quite deftly due to Bong Joon-ho's deft direction and a passel of good performances.  Tilda Swinton (as the representative of the front of the train to the trail, a sort of fascist minister to the downtrodden) is as great as usual, but there's some notes here from Christopher Evans (as the leader of the tail group) that we haven't seen before.  (Then there's Alison Pill, pulling off a manic little appearance that's a highlight of the movie in how scarily logical it is.)  I somehow had no idea Octavia Spencer is in the movie as well, but was damn happy to see her (there's a bit where she causally cracks a hard-boiled egg on the head of a child that had me laughing far too hard).

While not quite at the level of Mother, this is still some damn fine Bong Joon-ho work.  It can be a little heavy-handed at times but the performances and directing overcome it and this is one of the better post-apocalyptic movies to come along in a while, with an good ending that has the tiniest sliver of hope.


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