Sunday, July 20, 2014

Movie: Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer:  amazing what can happen on a train ride.  This post-apocalyptic flick is a remarkable albeit violent piece of film making by Korean director Bong Joon-ho.  In 126 minutes you are given a full picture of mankind within a political structure as a train circles the earth.  In the opening, a voiceover tells you that a chemical program intended to combat global warming had gone bad, the planet is frozen  and the human survivors are on a train circling the planet.  There is then a scene showing individuals living in poverty, huddled masses living on protein bars who are dominated by a ruling class living a luxurious life and enjoying fresh food.  Those in poverty are relegated to the back of the train while the rich upper class lives in the front.  The train was built by an individual named Wilford.  People speak of Wilford as a god but, like Oz, you begin to wonder whether or not he really exists.  A portion of the film plays as a dark Wizard of Oz.  Curtis (Chris Evans) is the main character.  He is on a mission to lead the impoverished masses from the back of the train to the front and to take command of the entire train.  Chris’ advancement, moving from cabin to cabin, presents a Yellow Brick Road analogy.  As Chris plans the takeover, you learn about previous liberation attempts by an individual named Gilliam, played by John Hurt, that resulted in a significant number of deaths.  To break through the train locks, an individual named Minsue, played by Song Kang-ho,  is awakened from his drug induced sleep along with his daughter Yona (Ko Ah-soung)n.  There are subtitles for much of their dialogue.  Minsue has his own agenda based on his belief that he can survive outside the controlled environment of the train.  Tilda  Swinton gives a superb performance as the spokesperson for Wilford.  One of Swinton’s scenes flashed me back to Tarentino’s Kill Bill films.  The acting is first rate with fine performances by Octavia Spencer, Ed Harris and Jamie Bell.  Within the confined space of the train, there are remarkable visuals and images.  Joon-ho should receive an Oscar nomination for best director and, with Kelly Masterson, for adapting the story from the French graphic novel “Le Transperceneige”.   I understand the movie distributor wanted to shorten the running time, presumably to tone down the violence; some of the fight scenes are quite graphic.  The film’s message could have been delivered with less violence.  Nevertheless, this is one of the best post-apocalyptic films I’ve ever seen.  There is plenty of action with first rate performances and all done with a surprising touch of humor.