Director: Joon-ho Bong
Stars: Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer, etc.
Snowpiercer is, quite simply one of the most riveting, and all around enthralling science fiction films released in 2014. The latest from Joon-ho Bong (director of the also excellent The Host) is an unpredicatable, stunningly shot, and marvelously acted piece that propels itself to the top tier of films released so fr this year.
The story is as follows: in the year 2014, a chemical is released into the Earth’s atmosphere to combat dangerously rising temperatures as a result of global warming. The project backfires, and subsequently freezes the entire planet, and destroying all life on Earth, minus a perpetual motion transcontinental train on which the rest of humanity lives. A tyrannical class system is present on the train, the eponymous Snowpiercer, with the poorer folk living in the back of the train, and the rich in the front. Needless to say, a bloody revolt is soon lead to bring down Wilford (the head man in the train’s engine) and bring greater opportunities to the lower class.
The set design and cinematography are where Snowpiercer really soar. With the whole location being on a confined vehicle, so much is done to make it varied and exciting. As the revolutionaries move towards the engine, the cars get increasingly more lavish, and pristine, and do an excellent job of creating the divide between rich and poor. Thanks to the excellent direction and lighting, the action scenes, one in particular, remain incredibly visceral and exciting, despite the large amount of people in a confined space.
The acting is the film’s other strongest suit. Chris Evans gives his best performance to date as the tormented Curtis, who longs to make up for the mistakes of his past. Tilda Swinton also shines as Mason, an outlandish front-dweller who’s simultaneous eccentricity and hideousness make her the most memorable character in the film. The rest of the cast does a fine job in their respective roles, although some of the characters feel a little under cooked so-to-speak. And though the story of the film is bogged with a couple inconsistencies, it is not enough to keep it from greatness.
Snowpiercer is a bleak but incredibly interesting take on the story of class warfare. Its uniqueness combined with its all around great film-making make it one of the best films of the year so far.