Based on the French comic novel “Le Transperceneige,” the movie is set in a dystopian near-future after a new ice age, inadvertently caused by world governments’ use of a chemical agent intended to reverse the effects of global warming, destroys most of the planet. Earth’s last survivors live aboard a Noah’s Ark-like train that continually circles the globe. Oppressed by the ruling elite and forced to live in squalor at the rear of the train, a lower-caste group plans a rebellion to wrest control of the engine car at the front. Snowpiercer is Mr. Bong’s first English-language film and stars an international cast, including Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Octavia Spencer and Song Kang-ho. At $40 million, the film is the most expensive in South Korea’s history.
The plot is hasty from the starting. The story appears to narrate how the subjugated tail revolts against the dominating head class sitting in the train. However, behind the plot there is cold-blooded insight about human nature and human society. Mason says, “You are preordained.” The movie seems to proclaim freedom and equality. But I think the hidden point is, Mankind’s evil side in a closed situation. Wilford says “We need to manage a balance.” This is very provocative. When looking back human’s history, how many dictators used this kind of similar logic? This question let me think about what is nation, what is human society again. Bong Joon-Ho shows that his limits as a director has not been outlined yet and still possesses more potential than ever with this film. The film, itself, is beautiful. The cinematography is great, the acting is great, the overall ‘flow’ of the film is, in the least, more than satisfactory.
It’s true that the movie’s setting is a little underdeveloped. It could certainly have some more build-up and depth in giving the theme. It may have been a high-budget cinematography milestone in Korea, but it’s somewhat under-budgeted for Hollywood. It may have been better if the movie was split in two parts so that one would give the setting more and the latter would have a more intense plot-line. But all that aside, the movie itself is great. It’s not an action-flick. However, the themes the movie deals with (primarily of the greed of mankind). It resembled “In Time” starring Justin Timberlake quite a bit. I found the intermixing of English and Korean interesting — you can see the intermixing of cultural influences from the East and West throughout the film as well, which makes the experience very unique. I did find it strange that the only Korean characters are made to be desperate druggies… although they do end up redeeming themselves in some ways down the road. The main villain(s) as portrayed by Tilda and Ed Harris are indeed captivating; however, the ‘good guys’ headed by Chris Evans are incredibly dull and undeveloped characters. As they fight their way through the computer-game-like levels of train cars, we the viewer find ourselves wondering why we care about them.
In the end, I have to give a big applause to Director Bong and his crews in delivering such thought provoking, breathtaking enjoyment. There’s no big surprise ending or anything—you can actually see the resolution coming fairly easily—but it’s just such a pleasure to watch, so ambitious and well executed, with some really memorable visuals, that the fun of the movie is just going along with it and not having a lot of preconceived notions about it. It’s also nice to go see a movie with action and special effects and be treated like an adult and not like a cranked out toddler who can’t focus for longer than thirty seconds. There are only a small number of movie reviews for Snowpiercer that claims that the main theme that the movie focuses on is class warfare, a far too simplistic overview. As such, because this movie operates on the assumption that the audience is intelligent, and then proceeds to touch on themes that are, unfortunately, subjected to mind numbing subjectivity, the conclusion that I reached was that this film NEEDS to be seen. It’s that good, folks.