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"Snowpiercer" is excellent sci-fi

Tilda Swinton's performance in Snowpiercer stands out
Tilda Swinton's performance in Snowpiercer stands out
Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

Snowpiercer (movie)


Sometimes a movie comes along and manages to cut through the clutter and noise and endless sequels and super hero movies out in the theaters. This year a movie that was filmed in 2013 finally got a wider distribution and is available in theaters as well as on Video on Demand and online services like Googe Play. It's a science fiction movie starring Chris Evans (of Captain America fame) based on a French comic book and directed by a Korean director. It's called Snowpiercer and you should find it and see it.

The movie is set in the future. Humanity, during our times, got together and came up with a plan to stop global warming. Countries began spraying the sky with a compound that ends up creating a global disaster. It stopped the warming, but now the Earth has frozen killing off most of the world.

Except for one train.

A train powered by a perpetual motion machine in the engine and with a complete self-contained and self-sustained ecosystem inside. The Snowpiercer train can plow through the snows and avalanches on the train, scoops up snow at the engine, filters and purifies that snow and provides water for the passengers. It is a huge train and since the entire world is frozen over, it circles the planet over and over and over and over again.

Life on board is either heavenly bliss or a nightmare depending on which area you were allotted when you boarded. The poor and handicapped live in the back. Shortly after they boarded their possessions and food were taken away and many died. Now they are provided meager protein bars to survive, their children are routinely taken to the front of the train (never to be seen again) and others make that trip, too.

At the front of the train the wealthy live a life of opulence and hedonism. There is a car where the wealthy passengers party 24-hours a day. There is fresh food, even an aquarium with an attached sushi restaurant. There is fresh meat, water, a school, gardens and more.

Chris Evans plays a man named Curtis. He has become a kind of leader at the back of the train. He has slowly been organizing those around him to come up with a plan that will lead to revolt so that his people can live. He plans to make the trek to the front of the train, confront the train's inventor (Ed Harris as Wilford) and find justice.

The movie is directed by Joon-Ho Bong who brought us the monster movie The Host a few years ago and that I thought was excellent. The man knows how to tell a story. This is a fairly straight-forward story without too many camera tricks. This is simply about survival, people on a journey, from one end of a very long train to the other. At the end is the possibility of a better life, of survival.

The acting is excellent. Evans, Harris and John Hurt are good, but Tilda Swinton stands out playing Mason, a woman who works for Wilford. All at the front of the train revere the holy Engine that keeps everyone alive.

For those looking for it, perhaps there is a message about class and treating your fellow humans right, but you don't have to go into this film looking for any political agenda. It's just a good story told well. That's better than a lot of what you find in the theaters these days.