By Marc S. Sanders
Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s sci fi thriller Snowpiercer is a locomotive fast paced adaptation, that oddly enough is reminiscent of The Wizard Of Oz. There’s no yellow brick road however. Here, the on foot journey occurs on a massively long on going train that contains the last survivors of a frozen apocalyptic Earth.
Each car of the train separates the demographic classes of this populace. The one percenters live it up closer to the front of the train. The steerage and lower class are resorted towards the back, forced to live in filth and nourish themselves on protein bars made of vermin and waste. Chris Evans is the hero who leads the pack from the back to the front. They’ve had enough and they will not be restrained any longer. However, who and what resides up there? Let the journey into the unknown begin.
I liked Snowpiercer a lot, and mainly because the surprise of what was next kept me alert. An especially fun moment occurs when the gang comes along the car where elementary school is in session.
Characters are met along the way, including a warped performance from Tilda Swinton. She’s dressed in uniform regalia that David Bowie or Elton John might have worn to mock totalitarians. Her performance matches her wardrobe. She definitely makes her antagonist role her own with her pale complexion, short stark red buzz cut, weird dialect and large false teeth.
John Hurt is also a welcome surprise as the old wise one that is needed for these roles. He’s doing his basic John Hurt but that’s all we need.
Rounding out the cast is Octavia Spencer. She’s good too with lots of energy. A great pair up also comes from Song Kang-ho and Ko Asung as techies who can assist the band with opening doors from one car to another; allies that are encountered along the journey to see the wizard or the one in the engine car. I won’t dare spoil that surprise. The cameo was welcome in my eyes.
The journey is great.
The final moments of the film are a little short sighted though. It’s a great action set up but when everything settles down, not much is offered for a final statement on the grand outcome. I wanted more from that.
This is, however, worth checking out. Snowpiercer might consist of a ridiculous concept with all life residing on a never stopping train, but the set pieces are great fun, as are the characters.