Snowpiercer mini review

Snowpiercer Poster

Bong Joo-ho’s Snowpiercer – based on a French graphic novel – has some not-so-subtle things to say about class warfare, but that’s an article to be written by someone much smarter than me.  An attempt to reverse the effects of global warming have backfired, leaving the sole survivors of Earth to circle the frozen globe in a self-sustaining train, powered by a Sacred Engine.  There’s a cautionary tale in that, but I’m not the man to unravel it.

Instead, I’ll just talk about how much fun this movie was.  Curtis (Chris Evans) is leading a rebellion against the powers-that-be.  To do this, he must lead his ragtag group from the filthy rear car to the posh front car.  It was almost like a video game, with each car presenting its own challenges.  Some of them contain puzzles to be solved, with new truths being presented that may disrupt their quest.  Others may be a car full of hatchet wielding maniacs who cut open fish to intimidate their attackers.  Others may contain exposition dumps.

"I wish I had my shield."
“I wish I had my shield.”

It’s a dark action movie, all taking place inside a train barreling through snow-covered landscapes.  It’s a post-apocalyptic movie unlike any I’ve seen.  And, while it’s bleak, there is a small glimmer of hope.  It’s also a lot of fun to watch.

The acting is terrific.  Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt and Allison Pill are the highlights, but everyone here is great.

Snowpiercer - Mason

I’ve seen nothing but praise for this, and, while I loved it, I’ll preach a little bit of caution.  I don’t think it’s quite as amazing as the rest of the world seems to think it is.  It’s a bit long and can drag at times, drawing out small scenes to be longer than they have any reason to be.  When I saw this, the hype level was still pretty low.  If I had seen it with sky-high expectations, I would have walked out disappointed.  As it was, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, even if I had some minor issues with it.

It’s not perfect, but it’s still really good.  Keep your expectations reasonable, and you’ll love it.

Rating: 4.5/5

What Comes Next: Best Friends Forever


In case you’re not familiar with the concept of this series, take a look at my initial post.  And beware of spoilers.  Because there will be spoilers.

Before I get into the meat of the post, I’d like to point out that Harriet pushing a flaming book cart and screaming “Get away from my friend!” was the best scene of the movie, and one of my favorite scenes in any movie I’ve seen this year (although it’s not as good as the elbow-thruster scene in Pacific Rim.  Because that was insanely amazing).

When we leave Harriet and Reba in this movie, Harriet has her left arm bandaged up and in a sling, on account of the gunshot she took while saving Reba.  The only reason she survived at all was due to the knowledge (and, therefore, power) gleaned from books.
They step out of the library, and we’re treated to comic book scenes of Harriet and Reba in various moments of badassery.  It’s a terrific ending to a beautiful little film.  But what would really happen?

BFF - Comic Slingshots

Awesome comic book scenes aside, they don’t really seem like fighters.  Sure, Harriet pushed a cart of flaming books at a group of would-be-rapists and Reba ran over a hipster, but who among us hasn’t done something like that?  I call those days “Wednesdays”.

It took them two attempts to take down a group of three hipsters, when only one of them really seemed ruthless in the first place.  And yet,  after running him over, she felt terrible about it.  She cried and kept asking how she could do such a thing.  Hardly the mark of a survivor in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

And Harriet wasn’t much better.  She pushed a flaming book cart at some guys, but what would’ve happened if they didn’t scatter?  She had no back-up plan.  And, even if she did, she didn’t have the skills to do anything about it.

Beyond all that, the group of rape-minded rednecks were local law enforcement.  Law enforcement that had a mandate on checking any person on the streets for a passport (which, as far as we know, neither Harriett or Reba is carrying).  That was likely not the last band of police officers the girls would come across, and they were highly unlikely to have a cart of flaming books at their disposal the next time they crossed paths with Johnny Law.

But perhaps they have a chance.  After all, among the books (again, books = knowledge = power) scattered in the library was one titled “How to Survive a Nuclear Apocalypse”.  Perhaps they picked up some helpful hints within those pages.
And maybe their lack of a killer instinct won’t hurt them too much.  After all, it took the murder of his wife and child to turn Max into The Road Warrior.  Maybe the loss of their loved ones in the nuclear blasts flipped an internal switch.  Would Reba have dreamed of running someone over a few days before?  Absolutely not.  If she’s capable of that, maybe she is capable of doing what needs to be done to survive in the post-apocalyptic age.  Ditto for Harriet.

Still, there are a lot of “maybes” in that last paragraph.  I can’t shake the feeling that this story does not end well.  What happens when Harriet and Reba come up against a group of grizzled survivors with weapons in their hands and malice in their hearts?  They have shown that they can be crafty in dealing with enemies when they have time to plan.  What happens when they have no time for planning?

I hope they make it.  I really do.  However, I have a feeling that the image of Harriet and Reba heading off into the world at the end of the film – a scene that is supposed to be seen as two best friends heading off to make it in this new world – is more than likely the start of a very short death march.

[If, by some miracle, Brea Grant, Vera Miao or Stacey Storey is actually reading this, I want you to know that I would absolutely throw some money at Kickstarter for a Road Warrior-esque sequel to this, and would be more than willing to contribute some music to the soundtrack/score.]