Set in a future where a failed climate-change experiment kills all life on the planet except for a lucky few who boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe, where a class system emerges.
Set in 2031, the entire world is frozen except for those aboard the Snowpiercer. For 17 years, the world's survivors are on a train hurtling around the globe creating their own economy and class system. Led by Curtis, a group of lower-class citizens living in squalor at the back of the train are determined to get to the front of the train and spread the wealth around. Each section of the train holds new surprises for the group who have to battle their way through. A revolution is underway. Written by
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After graping the global movie universe's attention with "The host" (2006), Korean director Bong Joon-ho serves up his first offer in the English language with "Snowpiercer", a futuristic, sci-fi fable as well as a hybrid of art house and mainstream thriller.
The micro depiction of the macro human race is through the titular vehicle (literally meant) a train that circles the post-apocalyptic world, a frozen hell resulted from the backfire of an over-executed maneuver in battling global warming. Secluded from the outer world, the survivors are stratified by social class, the highest at the front (a perpetual-motion engine) and the lowest at the back. The linear (in more ways than one) story is quite simple, the underprivileged bunch at the back fighting its way, car after car, all the way to the front to gain control of their own destiny. Through the allegory progression, the audience witnesses a rich pageantry of environments rough workplace, lush greenhouse, giant aquarium, plush lounge, and more.
The impressive cast is well assembled. Chris Evans sheds his "All American" heartthrob image to play this perhaps his first heavy-weight role as an earthy leader of the revolution. John Hurt is the semi-disabled wise old man, a rich reservoir of knowledge. Other key members of the group include Jamie Bell as the young follower, Octavia Spencer as a mother searching for a missing child "drafted" by the ruling class for some obscure purpose, and Song Kang-ho as a Korean security expert. The show-stealing personas, however, are on the opposite side. Most delicious is Tilda Swinton, barely recognizable with ingenious makeup (essentially of a dental nature) playing the spokesperson for the dictator. Allison Pill (so impressive as Zelda Fitzgerald in "Midnight in Paris") is another manifestation of eccentricity, a pregnant kindergarten teacher, all sweetness until she produces a gun and starts shooting. The dictator is competently played by Ed Harris.
The movie is quite long (a little over 2 hours) and does not hurry itself as most blockbuster thrillers would do. Instead, it takes its time with careful, well-crafted character development. But it does hold the audience's attention with excellent acting and artsy photography.
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