Wednesday, December 3, 2014


I had a very mixed reaction to writer/director Joon-ho Bong's Snowpiercer. One one-hand I'm increasingly tired dramas using the trappings of sci-fi to offer up dystopian futures and thinly-veiled class struggle that offer no message other than the fact that such inequality is wrong and ultimately disastrous to the human species. My rebelling against the form isn't really Snowpiercer's fault other than the fact it adds to the glut of similarly-themed films in recent years. On the other hand the film certainly embraces the literal interpretation of rising above your class to offer a bizarre struggle of less fortunate train passengers attempting to climb their way upward.

At its worst Snowpiercer feels preachy and overreaching in its visual style presenting each train car as a bizarely impossible worlds for the voyagers to walk through. It's also not well served by a performance so over-the-top by Tilda Swinton it's amazing she doesn't hit her head on the roof in every scene. At its best the film does serve its message and offer Chris Evans a role as a would-be hero forced to face the deficiencies in both himself and the world he hopes to make more equitable through his struggle.

Although the script never explains why the train has to remain moving, as they could certainly put the surplus energy to better use than simply circling the globe (over oceans?), the film also makes good use of its surroundings allowing innovative methods of the upper class to keep control of the rabble including a vicious method of corporal punishment. Even if at times the movie isn't all I want it to be, it's rarely boring.

Available on both Blu-ray and DVD, extras include a near-hour documentary on the making of the film, a far shorter making-of featurette, and short examinations of the film's characters, actors, prologue, and setting. The film also features an informative if somewhat odd audio commentary helmed by critic Scott Weinberg who discusses aspects of the film with other critics, calling them on the phone one-by-one, over the course of viewing the movie.

[Anchor Bay, Blu-ray $29.99 / DVD $24.98]

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