South Korean writer/director Joon-ho Bong understands the significance of classic sci-fi; his “Snowpiercer” is a social experiment of class struggle in a confined space. A talented and diverse cast supports the commentary but the film manages to spread longer than its two hours. Constant action and story progression don’t pump the adrenaline to meet the pace of the film; each event takes a pause or reflection period. “Snowpiercer” is a remarkable, little film that deserves attention for its insight.
World scientists try to combat global warming by releasing a chemical into the atmosphere, but Earth faces dire consequences when the chemical creates an ice age that kills most of the world’s inhabitants. The only humans to survive manage to do so thanks to a continent-trekking train built by Wilford (Ed Harris), but a class system divides the train, leading to a full scale rebellion led by Curtis (Chris Evans) and Gilliam (John Hurt). Curtis leads the attack on the train’s security team, commanded by Mason (Tilda Swinton), and demands the assistance of one of the security engineers (Kang-ho Song) and his daughter (Ah-sung Ko). As the lower class group (including cast members Octavia Spencer and Jamie Bell) conquers train car after car, they realize the scary amount of thought placed into the creation of the train and the management of its resources.
Like indie sensations “Cube” merged with “Oldboy,” “Snowpiercer” balances violence with a pondering look at humanity and its survival. Though the confined space of the setting doesn’t offer good vantage for clear fight scenes and some special effects are weak, a theme of the film is the brutality that stems from repression and power. It feels longer than its two hours, but “Snowpiercer” is reminiscent of classic, contained sci-fi. Plus, Tilda Swinton, as always, offers a must-see performance.
Rating for “Snowpiercer:” B-
For more information on this film or to view its trailer, click here.
“Snowpiercer” is only playing at Gateway in Columbus. For showtimes, click here.