Snowpiercer

I really don’t know how to review this crazy little weird film. Snowpiercer is a 2013 South Korean science fiction action film based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette. The film is directed by Bong Joon-ho and written by Bong and Kelly Masterson. The film marks Bong’s English-language debut; approximately 80% of the film was shot in English. The film stars Chris Evans, Song Kang-ho, Go Ah-sung with supporting roles by Jamie Bell, Ewen Bremner, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer, Alison Pill and Ed Harris.

A disasterous ice age occurs in 2014 after an experiment to counteract global warming goes awry. Almost all life is destroyed on earth which is now a snow & ice planet and a few survivors remain, inhabitants of the Snowpiercer, a massive train, powered by a perpetual-motion engine, that travels on a globe-spanning track created by eccentric multi-millionaire inventor Wilford. A class system exists on the train with the rich passengers who bought tickets inhabiting the front of the train and those who managed to get aboard during boarding inhabiting the tail end compartments. It is now 2031 and in the 18 years things have become bad for the tailenders who live on protein blocks that guards provide at regular intervals. A rebellion is staged led by Curtis and masterminded by oldtimer Gilliam and they beat up the guards (who it turns out had long ago run of bullets for their guns) and force their way through several compartments and reach the prison section. There they release prisoner Namgoong Minsu, the man who built the doors dividing each car, and his daughter Yona. They offer him Kronol, a drug he is addicted to, as payment for unlocking the remaining doors.

They run into a battalion of guards armed with weapons and there is a huge fight in which Curtis has to sacrifice saving Edgar, his second in command, to capture Minister Mason. She bargains her life for leading them through the wealthier sections to the engine but in the school car, the teacher and a henchman draw machine guns, slaughtering many of Curtis’ followers, and executing his mentor Gilliam; Curtis kills Mason for revenge. Franco, a henchman of Mason’s slaughter through most of Curtis’s followers before he appears to have been killed and finally only Curtis, Yona & Namgoong are left and they make their way through the wealthy class partying and drinking it up in luxury until they reach the entrance to the engine. Namgoong wants to blow open the side of the train, and escape into the outside; he claims that he has noticed the snow receding and melting a bit meaning they could survive outside as the temperature must be dropping. Curtis tells him that he must confront Wilford as when the poor inhabitants first boarded the train 18 years ago they didn’t have access to food or water which soon drove them to cannibalism. Before the introduction of the protein blocks, Curtis had kidnapped an infant Edgar to eat him, and killed his mother, before Gilliam cut his own arm off and offered it in Edgar’s place.

Namgoong still means to blow up the side of the train when the door to the engine section opens and is shot and wounded by Wilford’s assistant Claude, who forces Curtis inside. Wilford welcomes Curtis with steak and wine and explains that the revolution was orchestrated between himself and Gilliam as a means of population control, necessary to maintaining balance aboard the train for supplies. However they didn’t expect Curtis to be this successful and Wilford’s own losses too great, so he executed Gilliam as punishment. Wilford’s men are execute roughly 74% of the inhabitants in the tail section and then the aging inventor says that he wants Curtis to take over as the train’s overseer. Nona comes in and knocks out Claude as Curtis punches Wilford and lifts the train’s floor to find that Wilford is using small children from the tail end, snatched away from their families, to replace the failing parts and he sacrifices his arm to help one of the boys, Timmy, climb out. Yona recovers the explosive from Claude and ignites it, before retreating into the engine with Namgoong. The damaged engine door fails to close, and Namgoong, who was fighting off the wealthy & their guards, and Curtis sacrifice themselves to shield Yona and Timmy from the resulting explosive fire.

As it explodes, the denotation causes an avalanche which knocks off the train and destroys most of the compartments killing everyone in them. Yona and Timmy seem to be the only ones who survived and they step out into the snow, huddled in large jackets taken from the wealthy inhabitants and spot a polar bear in the distance, meaning that life is survivable on the surface.

Weird film with Tilda Swinton & Alison Pill’s characters providing the bulk of the weird & humourous scenes as well as a sing along session that Pill’s character only known as Teacher does with her young students. I found myself going “WTF” and “what the hell is going on” in several scenes as well as a handful of “huhs” here and there. It’s eccentric and memorable and certainly very different from what Hollywood shows us. I’ll still only give it a 7.5 outta 10!

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