Movie Review: Snowpiercer

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The director of the new film America (currently at 11% on Rotten Tomatoes), the latest documentary from best-selling author/filmmaker/attention whore/republican guy Dinesh D’Souza, recently complained (and lawyered up) about how his movie was getting blatant lack of exposure, despite it being in over 1100 theaters in the country and is the first thing you see on basically any Fandango listing you look up.  Meanwhile, I had to drive to Country Club Hills to see Snowpiercer, as it was the only theater playing it in suburban Chicagoland.  If you’re not from around here, Country Club Hills sucks and their AMC smells like pee.  Snowpiercer only played in 250 American theaters and made almost half the money America did (that’s aside from the $80 million it made overseas), while basically receiving none of the American advertisements or bitching about lack of exposure.  I don’t know where I’m going with this, but I just read an article about how D’Souza thinks he’s getting the short end of the stick; meanwhile he has a documentary that’s playing in 1100 theaters and I had to drive an hour to downtown Chicago last year to see Blackfish, which is no doubt a better documentary without even having seen America.  I think I’m just trying to say “fuck that D’Souza guy”; I don’t even want this to be in a political context: nobody’s movie is important enough to publicly complain about how much *you* think everyone deserves to see *your* own movie.  Especially to the extent that he’s doing.  It’s a freakin’ movie.  I (and the rest of the country) had the option to see your film at basically every theater around us, and I (and the rest of the country) *chose* not to watch it, and I (personally) chose to sit in a urine soaked theater and watch a sci-fi action film about a futuristic train that, truth be told, probably created a better metaphor for a global society than your one-sided, self-appreciative, pandering documentary ever could.  AND it had axe fights.

Ok, completely random ranty intro paragraph aside, I went into Snowpiercer with basically no concept of what it was about or who was in it, only excited to see it based on hype and word-of-mouth, and that was probably a good thing.  But if you need a synopsis, here’s the vaguest possible description I’m willing to give.  It’s the future, the government tried to combat global warming and it worked *too* well, so now Earth is covered in unlivable snowy conditions.  The last remaining humans now exist on a constantly moving luxury train, named the Snowpiercer, which travels in a year-long loop all around the world.  The poor people are in the back, the rich people in the front.  That’s all you really need to know about the plot going into it.

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Now, I guess if you want to hear more details about it (I suppose I can’t end the review there), well, it’s super violent and full of great, surprising characters.  The acting is good, and ranges from the borderline whispers of Chris Evans to the cartoonish, loud intentional overacting of Tilda Swinton.  She looked like she had fun with the role, but her mouth area really bothered me, as she’s purposefully talking around her dentures the whole time.  The cinematography is pretty good, and it moves at a great pace.  It’s two hours that felt like 90 minutes.  I doubt a movie like this would garner any awards praise, but the production design is genius.  There was one moment that I don’t want to ruin, you’ll know it when you see it, when they open one of the gates and it’s just a perfect blend of visuals, music, and terrifying implications that it just made me tense up inside with joy at how much I love these kinds of movies.  If there were like four more of those moments, this would have been a certified masterpiece.

From a logical standpoint, there’s about as much to question as there is in any ole’ sci-fi movie.  Spatially, the train makes no sense.  There’s no possible way that there are literally thousands of people living in it (as they mention), there’s simply no place for them to sleep, especially the rich folk.  Unless it’s implied that a bunch of train cars that we didn’t see were sleeping cars, or that we should assume that the train is bigger than the film could possibly show, it doesn’t have much logic to it.  Even just looking how narrow the cars are, there’s just no freakin way that that many people are existing on it.  Not to mention that for some people to go from point A to point B, they would have to walk through some pretty crazy theme cars to get there.  But I’m willing to let a lot of that slide because it’s an earnestly entertaining movie.  Am I a hypocrite for not caring about the logistics of Snowpiercer, and then ripping something like Transformers to shreds?  Maybe.  But I think exceptions need to be made for movies that actually *attempt* to elevate themselves above a series of loud things smashing into each other.  You’ve gotta do something more with your action movie.  And Snowpiercer does.  Otherwise, you’re just adding to the pile of CGI scrap metal.

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But for me, the best part of this movie is the sense of exploration.  Going from car to car, discovering each new element of how a fully functional society could possibly live on a giant train unfold one gate at a time was enthralling.  I haven’t watched the trailer, but I assume they give away a bunch of the train car surprises.  How could they not?  I wouldn’t bother watching the trailer if I were you.  I don’t know how the film will do on repeat viewings (I mean, it’s still really good and I’d watch it again), but the most exciting thing about it is the vast amount of discovery involved.  I did not know what was coming next, or where the plot was going.  For two hours, I was completely engaged in the universe that Snowpiercer had created.  And it’s a film that doesn’t always take the easy way out, and isn’t afraid to kill off whichever characters it wants.

Check it out if you can, it’s probably my favorite movie of the year so far.  And I doubt Bong Joon-ho is being a crybaby about only getting a limited release in America.  Sorry, that D’Souza butthole really rubbed me the wrong way today.

9 out of 10

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