Julie Pagano

Snowpiercer

Dystopian future on a train!

Now that I quit the tech community, I want to try more writing on non-tech topics. One such topic is film! Before the tech community destroyed my soul, I was a film nerd. I am finally getting back into that headspace, and I am so pleased.

Prepare yourself for some silly film reviews! If you’ve seen my film livetweeting, it will probably be a bit like that, but with slightly more cohesion. My first review is for the film Snowpiercer.

Intro

Do you like dystopian futures, violent action movies, and trains? Then this is the film for you!

Review

Snowpiercer is at its heart a dystopia. The story starts in 2014 to remind us just how close we are to a doomed future. Scientists release a chemical into the atmosphere to counteract global warming by cooling things down. Things don’t go as planned, and the earth is cooled into an unlivable ice age. Thankfully, some guy named Wilford was thoughtful enough to build a self-sustaining train impervious to the ice age and able to pierce through ice. A moving ark to save humanity. SNOWPIERCER!

Fast forward 18 years, and we’re in the steerage section of the train with the protagonist of our story. We’ve got our dystopian future, and our hero is preparing for a revolution. No more eating black jello in the back of the train. It’s time to work our way to the front of the train and maybe stab some bougies on our way there!

The film takes us on a dark adventure through the train with each car a new surprise. We get to find out how the sausage (er—protein blocks) is made, battle some scary train military, see how the richer half lives, and much more. Throughout the film, I found myself guessing what the next section of the train would hold. When it was over, I wondered about the places it skipped. I love the world building that happens in such a tiny space. I am curious if the graphic novel it is based on goes into more detail.

The world of the film is not only interesting, but visually appealing. This is my first Joon-ho Bong film, so I have nothing to compare to, but it makes me want to explore his other works. Chris Evans does a fine job as the protagonist, but my excitement lies with a lot of the smaller roles. Tilda Swinton does a great job as a bit of comic relief (let’s be honest, I would watch her read the phone book—I adore her). Alison Pill steals the screen for the few scenes she’s in. John Hurt excellently serves as the grizzled old mentor for our dystopia. Last, but not least, Kang-ho Song intrigues me as the cynical security specialist who has his own ideas about revolution. I look forward to seeing him more when I visit the director’s previous films.

Snowpiercer is darkly funny in just the right ways to offset the violence and gore (and is, admittedly, sometimes part of the violence and gore). The absurdity in this dystopia reminds me a little bit of Brazil, a film I have been meaning to revisit for some time. Like Brazil, this film is working on multiple levels. There’s some action, violence, and bloodspray, but there’s also metaphor, symbolism, and political commentary. If you are into those things, I recommend giving it a try.

Notes

Highlights from the notes I took during the film. This is about as close as you’ll get to my old livetweeting.