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Snowpiercer Review: A Fresh, Clever Cinematic Experience

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There have been plenty of post-apocalyptic, dystopian works of fiction produced for decades (heck, centuries). There have been great works and not so great works. Snowpiercer is a great work. This writer has to fight the temptation to talk about spoilers too much. It has plenty of action and dark humor. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous in the film. It should win an Oscar for that, though it’s slightly more likely to have to available politicking behind it than Only Lovers Left Alive to have the necessary politicking. Given that the Weinstein Company reduced the North American distribution from a wide release to an art house release because director Bong Joon-ho refused to sell out and cut twenty minutes from the film that The Weinstein Company thought people in the Midwest would be too dumb to understand (do they include Ohio in that category? Jerks!)
The thing about Snowpiercer is that it is complex. There is the basic premise of the heroes fighting against a system that works to keep them in their place, but it has plenty of shades of gray. Ultimately, like the protagonists in Cabin in the Woods and The World’s End the protagonists must make a choice between the lesser of two evils. Do they continue to survive while something works to control every aspect of their lives or do they risk almost certain death for the chance to actually live and be free? The concept that the struggle continues after the film ends isn’t for everyone. Many people react strongly and vocally against it, calling it stupid or simply complaining that they don’t get it. Perhaps that is where the Weinstein company’s misconception about the Midwest comes from. Maybe it’s from the politicians in Washington who prefer doing and saying idiotic things for media attention as opposed to doing their jobs. Distribution companies often like to “dumb down” films and television for American Audiences because sensationalism makes a faster, easier profit than intelligent story telling. Look at the box office performance of Transformers: Age of Extinction vs the performances of the far superior How to Train Your Dragon 2 or Edge of Tomorrow; or comedies like Grownups 2 vs The World’s End or even This is the End. Intelligent storytelling, thankfully, stands the test of time. Perhaps there is hop that studios will compare Captain America, The Winter Soldier’s early April box office numbers to Transformers’ late June numbers and see that intelligent films can perform well and are worth producing.
Snowpiercer will be playing at the Neon here in Dayton for at least one week. Giving the slim pickings of the new wide releases this holiday weekend, it’s a good bet for people to take a trip downtown and check it out. It is entertaining enough with plenty of dark humor, great hand to hand combat, clever dialogue, fantastic directing and cinematography, and great performances by the cast. Chris Evans was as perfect for the lead as he was for Captain America. Tilda Swinton was amazing in this film as well. While her character in Only Lovers Left Alive was endearing, her character here is completely detestable. Octavia Spencer is deserving of another Oscar to keep the one she won for The Help, company. The entire cast, whether they play a large or small role was terrific. People who love to analyze themes and motifs should love this film and some people who simply want to be entertained should love it as well. People who want to just check their brains at the door should probably give this a pass or they may hurt themselves. People who like to keep their brains in their heads at all times should make the effort to find out where this is playing, it’s worth the time and money. This director may just pre-order the DVD/Bluray combo pack online.