“We Go Forward”: A review of Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer (2014)

Snowpiercer (2014)

“You know what I hate about myself? I know what people taste like. I know that babies taste best”

Chances are, you haven’t seen Snowpiercer. Chances are, you’ve never even heard of it. The lucky people who have been fortunate enough to watch it, are sure to tell you that you missed out on something special, something that they need you to watch immediately, and you may be baffled as to why you just NEED to see it, but, believe us when we say, you need to see this.

After a failed attempt to stop global warming, the planet is plunged into an unsurvivable ice age, and the last remnants of humanity board the globe spanning super train ‘Snowpiercer’, which circles the earth, year after year, never stopping. 17 years later, as the poor live in squalor at the back, whilst the rich live in decadence at the front, a rebellion breaks out, lead by Curtis (Chris Evans), the aim, to take over the train.

I mean, that’s all you really need to know. I knew nothing about this film until I read a simple blurb, suddenly I just had to watch it. It had lots of trouble when it came to distribution, so it was seen in very few cinemas, and in the UK the only way to watch it is by getting yourself onto US Netflix or finding it online. It’s a South Korean film, but made 80% in English, adapted from a graphic novel by Bong Joon-ho, it’s one of the best films I’ve seen in the past year.

From start to finish, Snowpiercer is a thrill ride. As Curtis and his fellow tail sectioners make their way to the front, going through food processing carriages, water treatment sections and on, and we get one of the most creative, energetic and brilliant films that puts most effects heavy blockbusters to shame.

It’s tightly and expertly directed, the shots are carefully planned, the ‘heroes’ are framed facing screen right as they move forward, whilst the ‘villains’ look left, facing back. The cinematography is beautiful to look at, whether a flame emanating from the dark or in the bright and colourful children’s classroom, the film looks grimy, gritty and lived in, all making for a rich visual approach.

The performances are fantastic, Chris Evans really shows off his range with a tough and believable performance, a particular monologue near the end is a master class, the look in his eyes is haunting. The dialogue is slick and engaging, there’s humour and heart amongst the political satire, and there are a supply of excellent quotes, such as the horrifically chilling one that I’ve put at the top of the post.

The soundtrack from Marco Beltrami is wonderfully earthy and dystopian, mixing in sounds of train squeaks and rattles, incorporating them into the scores slick blend of eerie, almost horror like melodies, and pulse pounding, assured beats. The film’s central ideas are ingenious, the layers of legend that build upon the 17 years spent on the train, give depth and meaning to the events that unfold on the screen.

As the film builds to its climax, it opts to go for a more thoughtful final approach, and in setting its action peak earlier, it gives ‘Snowpiercer’ a dramatic weight that carries you all the way through the film’s narrative. There is no excess flab here, no wrong foot, it all powers on, through excellent performances, detailed world building and a gripping central conceit that makes for one of the smartest and exciting Sci-Fi’s for many years.

If only they’d let people see it.

Rating: A  10/10

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