One evening in 2006, when I was living in Bradford in the northern part of England, I walked from the University of Bradford to the National Media Museum to watch a Korean monster movie called The Host. I didn’t really know much about the film but I knew it was a monster movie, AND it was discount night for university students, so how could I resist, right? It turned out to be one of the best monster movies I had ever seen. And amazingly, the visual effects was as good as anything Hollywood was churning out. That was the first time I saw a movie by director Bong Joon-ho. Fast forward to 2014 and I just watched Bong Joon-ho’s first English language feature film – Snowpiercer.
Snowpiercer is a sci-fi movie set in the future when the entire world has frozen over, and the last remains of humanity now live on a train that circles non-stop around the world, powered by a perpetual motion engine. (Funny, the last review I posted is about a character called T.S. Spivet who invents a perpetual motion machine – guess his invention came in handy for the characters in this movie, haha. Ok, that wasn’t funny at all.)
When I first heard the story, I thought it sounded a little silly and I was wondering if this was going to turn out to be some B-grade attempt at sci-fi (which I also enjoy every now and again). Well, it’s not. It’s a beautifully made film, visually stunning, well paced, and if you look past all the action and amazing set designs, you’ll even find a study on social classes and equality (or inequality) between the haves and the have-nots.
Chris Evans plays the main character Curtis, a reluctant leader of the poor who live in the rear of the train. He is assisted by his friend Edgar (played by Jamie Bell). Their goal is to lead a rebellion to the front of the train where wealth abounds and food is abundant. One of the people trying to keep this from happening is Ambassador Mason, played fantastically well by Tilda Swinton whose character is almost a cartoon caricature, but yet there is an underlying tone of menace and even cruelty that prevents you from taking her lightly. This isn’t a non-stop action movie (even though I kept expecting Chris Evans to put on his Captain America costume and start kicking butt) but it is a visually stylish and interesting dystopian sci-fi that is different from the usual fare. The trailer is below. There are many trailers online but the one below is enough to give you a feel of what the film is about… I think some of the longer trailers show a bit too much, including parts of the ending.