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Snowpiercer (?) - Spoiler-free review

Nathan Strum



Yeah... I'd never heard of Snowpiercer before, either. This despite it having a fairly-star-studded cast including Chris Evans (Captain America), John Hurt and Ed Harris.


I think this film is the reason for a bit of Avengers trivia. In The Avengers' shwarma end-credits scene, Evans is hiding his face with his hand. The reason being, he had grown a beard for another movie, and they couldn't completely hide it. And in Snowpiercer, he has a beard.


So I'm guessing Snowpiercer is that movie.


As for why I'd never heard of it, I suppose it's because it's not major studio release. It's a limited release of a South Korean production, filmed in Czechoslovakia, based on a French graphic novel. I'm guessing the only reason it's even hitting theaters here at all is because Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a big hit.


Anyway, Snowpiercer is... well... weird. But it's weird in a good way. In some regards it's a throwback to sci-fi of the 70's where weird concepts were okay. Ever see Zardoz? Well, that's way weirder than Snowpiercer, but not always by much. Snowpiercer takes elements from various sci-fi, disaster and post-apocalyptic movies, and loads them all on a train. A big one.


That's right, a train. So take elements of Logan's Run, Soylent Green, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, Waterworld and others, load them all up on The Big Bus (IMDb it), and you kind-of have Snowpiercer.


In the film, due to science foolishly trying to fix global warming, Earth has been plunged into an ice age and everyone is now dead. Everyone, except those who somehow managed to get on board a massively-long train that never stops, and continually circles the now-frozen planet. Somehow never derailing, wearing out parts, or running out of fuel or food.


I mean... you'd think the wheels would wear out, right?


So, after 18 years of this, the people at the back of the train living in squalor have had enough, and decide its time to move up to first class. Mysterious messages guide them along their journey as they discover more secrets about the train. The further forward they move, the more history about the train and its passengers are revealed.


Although where a lot of these people are sleeping is still somewhat of a mystery. Maybe the Pullman car is in the Directors' Cut.


There are definitely some moments of humor in the movie (much of it dark), but the filmmakers take the whole thing rather seriously. Surprisingly, it actually kind-of works in the same way most of the other films I've mentioned work. Once you're on board with the concept (sorry), you can just go along and enjoy the ride (sorry again). The plot is something you just can't think too much about, or the whole film derails (sorry yet again).


The acting is all very good, with Chris Evans doing a solid job as a reluctant rebel leader, John Hurt as his enigmatic mentor, and Tilda Swinton's wonderfully oddball turn as the train's number-two in charge. There is quite a lot of violence in the film, but it never felt gratuitous. It served a purpose to set a mood, propel the plot, or have an emotional impact. I'm not a fan of violent films, but I didn't feel completely put-off by it here.


When so many movies are focused on being overblown blockbusters, it's nice to see a sci-fi movie that's really sci-fi. Not just action or effects for the sake of dazzling an audience. Maybe the best thing that can be said about Snowpiercer, is that it's unpredictable. It's such an odd mix of ideas in such a bizarre setting, it really does keep you guessing. Sometimes that guessing amounts to "what were they thinking with that idea?", but more often than not, Snowpiercer was worth the trip. If you're looking to relive some of those sci-fi films of the 70's, buy a ticket to ride Snowpiercer. I've certainly spent a worse two hours in a theater.


It's kind-of a hard film to score, but we'll just go with a 7.5/10.

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I watched this last week and it was definitely odder than I was expecting. Also quite a bit more violent than I was expecting. I'd love to see an "extended" version of the film where they go through more cars, as they obviously didn't show all of them (or even probably a large percentage of them). The ending was a bit unexpected.


I'm also glad to see films of this nature--a pretty unique concept, even if it is a bit ridiculous in terms of plausibility. I think your score of 7.5 is appropriate.



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My first thought was,



"Holy crap, they just killed everyone!" And even if the two survivors survived, they obviously could not repopulate the species, so humanity is done for anyway.


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Never heard of it either. Just checked and it's only playing at one theater in the Houston metro area, and only at 4pm at that - guess I'll have to catch it later.

Picked up Cloud Atlas last week on blu-ray. Really enjoyed it. Went to check a few bits online and was surprised to see how poorly it faired at the theater and in reviews.

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I rented Snowpiercer through iTunes.


I also really enjoyed Cloud Atlas and have it on Blu-Ray. Saw it in theaters originally, but have watched it two more times on BLu-Ray.



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Thanks for the inspiring review (as always), sounds like one movie to check out.

Talking about positively weird scifi films - ever heard of "The Quiet Earth"?

Stumbled across this by chance, and it really left a lasting impression on me.

A New Zealand post-apocalyptic film that carries that typical early 80es vibe and has aged rather well.

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Good to know, I wouldn't have expected to find it streaming already.



Plan to watch it a couple more times as well, I'm sure I missed a lot the first go around - such as the graffiti in the 70s storyline. I spotted it in the background while watching the extras and went "wait a minute" then backed it up to get a better look.

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Loved The Quiet Earth and the redhead in it.


Thanks for the Snowpiercer heads-up. I'll be sure to keep an eye for it on Netflix.

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It was definitely odd, though interesting. Saw it last week with my folks and aunt & uncle who were visiting from Bandera. That was a mistake, my mom and aunt did not care for it at all.


[never] wearing out parts


Unless I misunderstood, parts were wearing out - that's why they were taking small children from the back of the train




How often does stuff like this happen? - US release controversy

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A couple of parts wore out, but after 18 years, you'd think it would be a widespread problem.

Maybe we just didn't see a bunch of the other kids they used and (supposedly) discarded.



I suspect that sort of release-related infighting happens all of the time. It's just part of the movie business. Money vs. art.

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Stopped by Barnes & Noble today during lunch and picked up Snow Piercer 1: The Escape and 2: The Explorers. Hadn't seen them before and I stop by B&N a few times a month.


The overview of #2 incudes:

The occupants aboard the Snowpiercer believed themselves to be the last humans alive, yet they soon learn that they are not alone. There is another train that could potentially spell destruction for the passengers of the Snowpiercer as it carves a trail through the endlessly freezing terrain.

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Finally finished #1. Other than the setting, and lower classes at the back of the train, the story is totally different. Even the characters are different. Enjoyed it.


Started on #2 which is actually about the second train, not the first as the overview I quoted above implied.

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FYI, this movies now on Netflix for those interested. I started watching it last night and got about 15 minutes into it before falling asleep. I'll give it another go later.

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FYI, this movies now on Netflix for those interested. I started watching it last night and got about 15 minutes into it before falling asleep.


That's pretty-much what Netflix is for, isn't? Better than a glass of warm milk.

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Finished it last night, really liked it. Check it out if you've enjoyed the other two (or the whole series if you enjoyed the movie).

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