Inequality is one of the great social issues and debates of our time. The question of whether or not the "playing field" is fair for all or has been altered to benefit the already rich and powerful while neglecting and ignoring the poor and middle classes is essential in our time. Many movements have risen up in hopes to combat this problem, and many claim the problems are fabricated and some just don;t work hard enough.
Movies have also tried to bring the idea of equality and the struggle against inequality to the masses in the past few years. Science Fiction movies in fact, have lead the charge with productions like Neill Blomkamp's 2013 film Elysium or the Hunger Games franchise. Science Fiction is back to its old self by not only thrilling or entertaining, but letting it's stories harbor metaphor to how we can be better people.
Snowpiercer is no different, and it does a fantastic job at that.
The movie is set in the not-to-distant future (2031), seventeen years after an experimental substance aimed at ending the global warming crisis failed spectacularly and plunged the Earth into infinite brutal winter. The last ark of humanity is the Snowpiercer, a miles long train on a worldwide rail going around the world. The cars are separated by social class, with the rich up front and the very poor in the tail. Curtis (Chris Evans) has had about enough of this and harbors a rage towards his "benefactor". He works with Gilliam (John Hurt) in an attempt to try to bring balance to the train and humanity alongside his right hand man Edgar (Jamie Bell). Other tail people also join in the fight, like Tanya (Octavia Spencer) who wants to look for her son that was whisked away to the front without explanation. They must go through Mason (Tilda Swinton) a tough minister for the company that owns the train. With the pieces set, the game begins...
The director of Snowpiercer was incredible and clearly showed an homage to other great directors, Bong Joon-Ho is making his English language debut with this picture, but you'd never realize that with how deftly he shoots his scenes and action. There are characters named Edgar and Gilliam in this picture, clearly nods to Edgar Wright and Terry Giliam. This is also apparent due to some of Bong's shots being staged similar to Wright's and the great, creepy, dystopia created on the train that is reminiscent of Gilliam's Brazil and 12 Monkeys.
The script is also strong, with a commitment to the high concept, the movie never winks to the audience. Some scenes last a bit long but there were always good character moments within them so it can't really be considered a flaw. One of the best scenes in the film is when Curtis talks to an ally/security expert Namgoong Minsu (Song Kang-Ho), it shows a real depth of character on both sides and the dialogue is superb.
The acting is also fantastic from everyone involved, especially Evans in the leading role. Chris Evans has truly grown as an actor and it's great that the Captain America franchise has allowed him to seek out roles in smaller films like this one. The supporting cast is also great, especially a great performance from Tilda Swinton as Mason, as well as John Hurt, Jamie Bell and Octavia Spencer.
The CGI and cinematography is also swell in this movie, the train is detailed and their is texture and beauty shown in the outside world, even as it is covered in white.
Overall, Snowpiercer may just be one of the best if not the best film of 2014. It is well made, well acted and well directed. It adds pathos and wonder while remaining realistic and bleak. It is high concept and incredibly human. It is truly something to behold as we all hope to make our way to the front cars of society.
Snowpiercer is currently playing in select theaters nationwide, and it is also available to rent or own on Itunes.