20150313: Movie Review--Snowpiercer

  1. Fundamentals, reception.
    1. South Korean live action feature length film, 2013, rated R, 126 minutes, action, thriller, scifi.
    2. IMDB: 7.0/10.0 from 119,571 audience ratings.
    3. Rotten Tomatoes: 95% on the meter; 73% liked it from 49,659 audience ratings.
    4. Netflix: 3.6/5.0 from 1,391,721 audience responses.
    5. Directed by: Joon-Ho Bong
    6. Starring: Chris Evans as Curtis, Kang-Ho Song as Namgoong Minsoo, Ed Harris as Wilford, John Hurt as Gilliam, Tilda Swinton as Mason, Jamie Bell as Edgar.
    7. Estimated production budget, 39 million USD.  Source: IMDb.
    8. Revenues: States, 4.6 million (5.3%); overseas, 82.2 million (94.7%).  Source: Box Office Mojo.
    9. Target demographic: fans of class warfare stories set in dystopian futures.

  2. Setup and Plot
    1. Well before the film's start, humanity attempted to reverse global warming using machinery of some sort.  The machinery worked too well.  Results were not as expected: the planet descended into an ice age.

    2. As the film opens, the remainder of humanity rides on a single train that circles the globe.  The cars that make up the train are strongly typed by class.  In upper class cars, the food is good and there is light and colour.  In the lower-classed cars, there is much darkness and foul-looking bricks that pass as food.  The wretched food is distributed by armed and armored thugs who treat the riders in a cruel and authoritarian way.

    3. Snowpiercer is the name of the train as well as the film.  The train has to clear the tracks of falling and drifting snow in order to continue its trek.  This is probably the most absurd part of this film.  Anyone who has experienced living for prolonged periods in snow country would reject a train being able to do this.  Also, in such a long circuit, avalanches somewhere on the route during 17 years would be certain. 

    4. During the film, the classes war upon one another.  Will this violent dialectic produce any forward progress?

  3. Conclusions
    1. The movie's backdrop is ridiculous from beginning to end.  The proposed source of food looked like it would support one person, if they promised to eat every other year.  There is no possible route for this train to trace around the globe. The map presented of the route includes long segments that are only supported by ice.  Just how was such a thing constructed after the massive failure of the world's economies?  Answer: it was not.  The power source for this train?  Never revealed, unfortunately; at least I would have had something to laugh at.  The implementation of the 'closed ecosystem' was a joke.

    2. The film was produced as an English-speaking film with American/British/Korean actors, based on a French graphic novel (Le Transperceneige, 1982; English translation, 2014), and executed by a South Korean auteur.  This movie reminds me of a relay foot race where the baton was dropped at every stage. 

    3. The only real energy I saw in this movie was the mutual class hatred.  Perhaps this is why this dreadful film receives any positive regard.  Some like class warfare.  I do not.

    4. One line summary: Class warfare in a totally absurd dystopian future train ride.

    5. Zero of ten; one black hole for screenplay.

  4. Scores
    1. Cinematography: 2/10 Poor, ugly, repulsive, pointless.  The plus 2 was for the mountains toward the end of the film.

    2. Sound: 5/10 I could hear the actors' words most of the time; some of the music was good.

    3. Acting: 2/10 I still like John Hurt and Ed Harris, despite their being in this debacle.

    4. Screenplay: 0/10 My usual high regard for Korean directors/auteurs ratcheted down two full notches.