Thoughts on ‘Snowpiercer’
1. This is a damn good movie. There is a bunch of shaky dialogue in the first act and at least one pretty clunky piece of exposition in the middle of the movie, but the nature of science fiction, when done correctly, gives some leeway to these little foibles and this is science fiction done correctly.
The 60’s and 70’s was a great time for high-minded science fiction like Planet of the Apes and Logan’s Run, movies that used their future settings to say something about today. In recent years, sci-fi has lost its teeth. Increasingly, we just get movies like JJ Abrams’ Star Trek movies that have nothing to say but really like the way space ships look. Director Joon-ho Bong has made an old fashioned sci-fi movie. Snowpiercer is a slick action that still has plenty to say.
Chris Evans holds everything together well and Tilda Swinton steals every scene she’s in but everyone in the cast is phenomenal, from Kang-ho Song and Ah-sun Ko as future-drug addicts to Octavia Spencer and Ewen Bremner providing an emotional core to the bloody adventure. And every good sci-fi movie needs John Hurt giving a couple of cool speeches so we even get that.
The Snowpiercer of the title is the train the never stops running which serves as the last place on Earth habitable for humans because humans made the rest of the Earth inhabitable. The train is rickety at times but nevertheless does its job masterfully, as does the movie.
2. So why is this movie not in more theaters? Why is Transformers, roundly rejected by critics, going to break box office records, but this terrific movie not going to be seen by anyone outside of New York and LA? It’s not because people aren’t going to see the film. They are. But the studio, apparently, decided this is an arthouse experience and hasn’t gotten the push it deserves. That’s a shame.