Thursday, 10 July 2014


From  Korean Director Joon-Ho-Bong (The Host, Mother) Comes Snowpiercer, His joint Korean/American venture with such stars as Captain America himself Chris Evans, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton. All pretty big names in Hollywood to say the least. The basic storyline is that Earth is on the brink of global warming meltdown and scientist devise a plan to spray the atmosphere to prevent this but they fail miserably resulting in the world freezing over, We take up the story 30 years later aboard a train, Not just your normal Thomas the tank engine but a super train created by Wilford industries.

The train is designed with an engine that will never stop. Wilford industries many years before devised a track that spans the entire globe so it never has to stop, thus never freezing like the rest of doomed Earth. The train is segregated by 3 sections, the back of the train where all the low life’s and poor live that also includes a prison, the middle of the train is the highly valued  water section kept full by snow filtered from the front of the train, The front part of the train is a forbidden zone only for the rich and chosen few.

Every day the soldiers get all the poor folk to line up and the sit down systematically row by row so they can keep  a record of the numbers, Occasionally someone from the front of the train comes and takes the children of their choosing, for reasons the poor are unaware of but very angry about. The poor are fed only with wobbly looking protein bars, you get to see what they are made from later in the film and it’s not particularly pleasant to say the least! One guy has his child taken from him and goes berserk and throws a shoe at the young lady taking the children and cuts her head, Then we meet Mason (Tilda Swinton)  as a mark of punishment she gets the poor guy and inserts him arm in a device that is put out of  a window for exactly 7 minutes whilst she does a speech and when the 7 minutes are up pulls his arm back in, Completely frozen it’s duly smashed to pieces by one of the guards in front of all to see as a severe warning against any form of rebellion. 

Curtis (Evans), Gilliam (Hurt) and Edgar (Jamie Bell) decide enough is enough and devise a plot to free a prisoner Namgoong Minsoo (Kang-ho Song) from the back of the train,  Namgoong had worked on the train in the past and constructed all the security systems for the doors on the train so his help will essential, They hatch a plot to spring him out and start the revolution, They find where he is and it's in a kind of suspended animation but he is quickly brought round by the drug Kronol of which he was addicted to and Curtis offers him all the Kronol he needs as long as he helps them, He agrees but on the condition that they also release his girlfriend Yona (Ah-Sung Ko). They agree and the revolution starts.

So from here on in the quest is to make it to the front of the train to confront Wilford and take back some kind of dignity and equality, There are some great set pieces especially the scene where they come up against a carriage full of axe wielding guards and as the enter a tunnel the guards quite coolly put on their night vision goggles and a bloodbath ensues! I felt that the film both hit and missed the spot in equal measures, I couldn't help thinking throughout how much better it would have been if it were a straight Asian film as the characters seemed way to over the top sometimes especially Tilda Swinton's character "Mason" who had big goofy teeth, thick glasses and the most ridiculous Yorkshire accent you have ever heard.Also a scene where you're wondering before hand how did the train get made etc. they then enter a carriage where there is a school class being taken, The kids and teacher in there are straight out of Willy Wonka and all is explained in a Flashback/cartoon form, odd but quite funny!We get an occasional glimpse of the outside world and it looks stunning, The level of detail is brilliantly done.Now I'm not saying it's a bad film but to be honest it's not that great either maybe my love of Asian cinema has probably made my view a little bias I just felt like something was missing. You get your action scenes then Curtis do a big emotional speech to Namgoong, Pretty much run of the mill stuff really. Although saying that the ending was not what I expected and was quite a twist.The film picked up a lot and was helped  by the inclusion of the always brilliant Kang-Ho Song and Director Joon-Ho-Bong has some brilliant set pieces as always I just hope that he will continue to make films in Korea and not go down the John Woo Hollywood route.In summing up, Don't expect too much and you may be pleasantly surprised, A good Saturday night film, Turn your brain off, Sit back and Enjoy.
Jonny T.

1 comment:

  1. The setup may be high-concept times a thousand, but the obviousness of the symbolism is so inextricably interwoven with the forward momentum of the plot and so well complemented by Joon-ho's comic-book style and sick humor, you can't help but buy in.

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