Thanks to a climate change experiment gone wrong, the world is frozen over and the only human survivors are trapped on a train that perpetually circles the world. The train is a microcosm of human society, with the upperclass front end passengers brutally suppressing the lower class tail end passengers, all overseen by the mysterious engineer, Wolford. That is, until revolution breaks out.
Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다: ★★★
Only 만: ★★★
Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다: There has been a lot of buzz about Snowpiercer, because of the trouble with its distribution in North America. There was pressure on the director, Bong Joon Ho to edit his movie to suit North American sensibilities, and I don’t remember if he compromised. Based on my viewing experience, my guess is that he did not.
Only 만: I’m not sure if he did or if he didn’t. I’m told that the North American distributor, the Weinstein Company, decided against cutting Snowpiercer, because of the outcry. I think they wanted to sell it more as an action movie, hence the request for a shorter length.
중국어 캐나다: I thought they wanted Bong Joon Ho to cut down the violence.
만: Really? I didn’t find it that violent. I mean, yes, it was violent, and I did spend a chunk of the movie with my eyes covered, but the gore was kept to a minimum, in retrospect. You didn’t see that much of it onscreen.
중국어 캐나다: Any way, my issue with the movie was not the violence, but how illogical it was. I could not suspend my disbelief at the premise: a perpetual motion train in a post-apocalyptic world carrying the sole survivors with such a gulf in quality of life between cars.
만: I bought it for the length of the movie. Afterwards, I couldn’t stop myself from poking holes in it. For example, what exactly do they need the front end passengers for, if the train is a microcosm that must be maintained in balance? The tail end passengers provided children, okay, but why did they need a car full of drug-addicted club kids, for example?
중국어 캐나다: Exactly! Visually, each car was fascinating and horrific, but none of them made any sense. I don’t care how luxurious the front cars are; the privileged class would not put up with such tight quarters for 18 years.
만: I guess because they were so scared of the outside? I mean, the part where they stick the guy’s arm outside and then shatter it was pretty gross. As much of it as I could see from between my fingers anyway.
중국어 캐나다: The Korean director is the sole reason for the inclusion of Korean actors, Song Kang Ho and Ko Ah Sung in the movie. It was quite jarring to suddenly have two characters who can only speak Korean.
만: Well, that and the fact that it was partially funded by the Korean government. That said, Song Kang Ho got all the best lines. And, most of the cigarettes.
중국어 캐나다: And, most of the drugs. That might be another reason the Korean characters stuck out like sore thumbs: they were drug addicts.
만: Honestly, I enjoyed both characters, so I didn’t mind having them there. I thought it was weird that the daughter’s English wasn’t better, considering she’d been born on the train.
중국어 캐나다: If I want to be positive about Snowpiercer, I will need to focus on the visuals, which were admittedly very arresting. I saw the film a few months ago, and I still remember the army of butchers lined up row after row to literally kill the rebellion.
만: There were a few scenes that stuck with me, including that one. Another was Chris Evans’ final walk through the train. Or the shootout when the train went around a curve. Or the mute kid coming from the back and killing the giant. That said, I saw this movie yesterday, so who knows what will stick in a couple of months.
I did enjoy the brief appearances of humour, where Jamie Bell’s character was nagging Song Kang Ho to open the gate faster, or the New Years’ scene, where they all paused from killing each other. Or, Tilda Swinton taking out her teeth.
중국어 캐나다: How did you enjoy Chris Evans as the lead? He has his pick of the script pile thanks to the Captain America franchise. I respect him for choosing Snowpiercer, even if I wasn’t a fan of it.
만: I thought Chris Evans was really good, considering he wasn’t given much to do except kill people and suffer. Like I said before, Song Kang Ho and Ko Ah Sung pretty much got all the best lines.
중국어 캐나다: They may have gotten the best lines, but Chris Evans’s character was more accessible, because he was made to be likeable.
만: I guess? I could relate to him more, because he seemed more straightforward. Until the last act, when they flip the script.
중국어 캐나다: The director of Snowpiercer also did The Host, which I have seen. I did not like that movie either, despite the fact that it also had great action sequences and visuals. I get the sense that Bong Joon Ho likes his characters to be a little incompetent, and the scenarios to be a little far fetched.
만: I haven’t seen The Host, but I did see Memories of Murder. And yes, it did feature incompetent characters in a far-fetched situation, the difference being that Memories of Murder is based on a true story.
중국어 캐나다: We should acknowledge that Snowpiercer is pretty far from the typical K-drama entertainment that we usually cover. But then, we have noticed that there is a gulf between Korean television and Korean film. It would seem that Korean television operates under more constraints than North American television, but then, the Korean entertainment industry pours all the sex and violence into their films. It is a bizarre dichotomy.
만: It is. I mean, they pixelate knives on television, and then something like Snowpiercer is practically non-stop stabbing. That said, nobody kissed with their mouth open in this movie either.
중국어 캐나다: Let us now discuss the ending in vague terms, though readers who are completely adverse to having the ending spoiled should stop here (but, come back after watching the movie to comment. Okay, readers?)
만: The last third of the movie was not as good as the first two-thirds, and it wasn’t helped by the protracted scenes with Ed Harris. As for the actual ending, it’s really the only conclusion the movie could have had. I would have liked it more without the polar bear, but that’s just me.
중국어 캐나다: The ending was as nonsensical as the rest of the movie. I mean, do we expect the remaining characters to survive and thrive as they walk into the sunset? They will probably be eaten by that polar bear. What’s your final word on Snowpiercer?
만: A visually arresting film with great pacing that grinds down in the last act. The ending is heavy-handed and the premise nonsensical, but my main quibble is that Chris Evans never took his shirt off.
중국어 캐나다: A topless Chris Evans might have convinced me to bestow an additional star to this movie. As it is, my annoyance at the largely unlikeable characters and the illogical scenarios spoiled any enjoyment I gained from the arresting visuals.