Review copy provided by Lionsgate
Bong Joon-Ho has made 2 films for Hollywood. One is Okja, a film that was booed at Cannes for being a Netflix movie and Snowpiercer a film in terms of UK distribution, has been sadly forgotten about until now.
For the first time ever in the UK, Snowpiercer has been released on DVD and Blu-ray, 7 years after its original release. This has possibly only happened due to the massive success of the outstanding Oscar winning film Parasite. It is nice to see that most of Bong Joon-Ho’s filmography is legally available on DVD and Blu-ray with only Memories of Murder being the only real exception.
Snowpiercer takes place in the year 2031. The world has been completely frozen over after a chemical that was meant to combat global warming failed. The remainder of what is left of humanity are stuck aboard a train that travels continually around the globe. With every society there is a class system and there’s one aboard this train. The lower class are stuck at the back of the train, the upper class are near the front and the main ruler Wilford being at the very front. Curtis (Chris Evans) has a plan to make his way to the front of the train so that him and the rest of the people at the back of the train can have better lives.
I went into Snowpiercer, more or less blind with only 1 scene being ruined for me which was kind of a shame as its probably one of the tensest scenes I’ve seen recently. This film after the first 15 minutes is just an intense thrill ride till the very end. But the films biggest issue is that the first 15 minutes are so slow compared to the rest of the film. While it was known that Harvey Weinstein wanted to cut about 25 minutes out of the film because he “wanted more Chris Evans”. To me if the intro was maybe a tad bit shorter it would have made for a much tighter film.
Speaking of Chris Evans, him and the rest of the cast are just truly amazing. With the true standout being Tilda Swinton, who just steals the show every time she is on screen. She nails every scene she is in, with a key standout being her comical yet poignant speech about how the back of the train is like a shoe and the front of the train is a head and how shoes don’t belong on the head.
I think this is pretty obvious to say since Bong Joon-Ho won an Oscar for best director, but the direction is excellent especially when it comes to the action. While the camera is shaky at times. It is not shaky to hid anything or to confuse the audience. The action is always clear and understandable and also it is plain and simply just brutal and intense.
While the film takes place technically in one location. How every train cart feels like a unique location is just really awe inspiring and there’s moments that your draw will drop with how stunning some of the locations are. I also love how in certain shots we can see the carriages moving slightly swaying to and for and making it feel like the characters are on a train that is moving.
To me a train analogy is the best way to describe Snowpiercer. Once the film eventually leaves the station, it feels like a bullet train heading to its final destination. The journey is fast, intense, thought provoking and just flat out great.