Director: Joon-ho Bong. Starring: Chris Evans, Song Kang-ho, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton, Ed Harris, John Hurt, Ewen Bremner, Octavia Spencer. Korea/USA. 2h 6m.
Based on: Le Transperceneige by Jaques Lob, Bengamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette.
I was so psyched about this film, literally from the moment I heard about the comic going on the big screen I was up for it, and to know what it would have some Korean input would ensure that the artist and style of the movie would be safe and despite a few lapses and removal of original content that blew the shit out of the Korean team, it’s a pretty good adaptation.
The story remains one that depicts not only a dismal future but our own current state of affairs, the injustices of the classes and in typical French style an amazing bloody and violent revolution.
AD 2031 the passengers in the train are the only survivors on Earth.
So in the beginning of this powerful action packed science fiction flick we’re thrust into the last carriage of the Snowpiercer. After a failed experiment to try and correct global warming we managed to bring on another ice age, the last remaining survivors on the planet inhabit this dynamic train that circumnavigates the globe, powered by perpetual motion.
Sadly at the rear it an overcrowded slum like box holds the poorest and underprivileged occupants of the train and the thing you’d expect to see in a post-apocalyptic film. Occasionally Mr, Mason’s Margaret Thatcher like right hand (Swinton) pops in with her armed guard to give the scum a message from the head of the train, basically the message is “just be thankful you’re still alive”. Mr Mason is usually
Periodically they are given food and supplies to just stay alive but with the ever increasing population things are cramped, and everyone is kept under tight surveillance and the children are randomly picked and removed to have a better life somewhere further up the train.
Pretty soon the strongest and more resourceful men club together under the influence of ?? (Evans) with help from the aged Gilliam (Hurt) and plucky Edgar (Bell) and the bold and pissed off mother of the most recent child who has been stolen Tanya (Spencer) the spark a revolution, after the most recent kids are nabbed, they noticed that the guards have no bullets and launch their attack which leads to a violent bloody thirsty battle into the next carriage where they are confronted by even more troops.
You know what I hate about myself? I know what people taste like. I know babies taste the best.
The broad strokes is that they need to make it far enough up the train to find and release a brilliant scientist (Kang-ho) who will help them overthrow the tyrants who are running the show. What they discover during their fight to the front of the train is both soul destroying, shocking and in strange ways there is hope, after passing through the upper class carriages, life on the other side is sweet, there are schools, saunas and haute cuisine, much in contrast of the back of the train where they are forced to eat each other.
This is definitely the kind of science fiction I like, it’s reflective of our current shitty status, it’s ‘a warning of what we’re heading into and there is an uprising, there’s a lot of the old grimy industrial scenes that you’d expect from 90’s post apocalyptic films (my favourite) and as things progress down the train we’re suddenly confronted with how the other half live, an ultra-modern techno dreamland which is a brilliant contrast and gives way to some stunning visuals, and what amazing visuals, from the brilliant costumes that have this sort of pieced together history about them to the harsh mechanical nature of the train which any steampunker would be wetting their pants over. I feel that the Korean edge really added to the agility of the movie, sadly a large part of the film was removed much to the pains of the director but fingers crossed it will be restored at some point. Evans isn’t a stranger to the more physical side of acting but carried himself will with this dirtier and less refined figure, his trusty sidekick at times almost stole the show, but Bell isn’t a stranger to being expressive and could have led this film, but the magic doesn’t begin until Song Kang-ho walks in, it’s around this time that the film kicks off in a different direction, actually starting to look and feel more like a sci fi movie more than a futuristic battleground.
It really is a brutally honest movie, that dazzles the eyes and the brain and fingers crossed there might more to come.
Rating – 9/10
R: Dredd (2012), Extinction (2015), Edge of Tomorrow (2014), Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
L: Train Flicks, A-Z of Korean Films, Comic Adaptations,
A: How accurate were the sci fi predictions of the 50’s, 60’s 70’s 80’s and 90’s
5s: John Hurt, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton, Ed Harris, Chris Evans, Song Kang-ho