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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Snowpiercer (2014)


Public transportation really is a pain.

In 2014, the government is afraid that global warming will rip our worlds to shreds, so they decide to test out an experiment which will supposedly counteract it. The problem is, that doesn’t happen. Instead, nearly all life on Earth is knocked out, with only a few hundred or so left riding on this super duper, seemingly never-ending train called “the Snowpiercer”. It doesn’t seem ideal at first, but when the world outside of you is a frozen wonderland, you take what you can get; but don’t tell that to those who have to stay, live and survive at the tail-end of the train. They’re considered “the low-life’s of society” that live poor, dress poor, and eat these black gelatin-bricks, they’re are told is “protein”; whereas the rich sit up front, eat their steaks and live in total luxury. It’s been like this for quite some time, but finally, the poor have had enough of being treated like total and utter crap! That’s when Curtis Everett (Chris Evans) decides that it’s his time to step up, take charge and map-out a way to get to the front of the train, find the creator, find that engine, and basically, take over the train as a whole. Sounds simple enough, but with the riot-team this train has, getting there is only half of the mission.

It’s taken quite some time for us Americans to get to see this movie, but finally, Bong Joon-ho’s English-language debut is here! And yes, even though I just recently got into him, I have to say, from what I’ve seen so far, I’ve been impressed. I like how Joon-ho is seemingly able to take all of these different genres of film, throw them into a blender, add a drop of sugar or two, and somehow, still be able to have it all come out fun, exciting, interesting, original, and best of all, cohesive.

"Call me 'Cap', one more time."

“Call me ‘Cap’, one more time.”

That’s why, as ambitious as this project sounds, I was a little weary. Not because the reviews for it haven’t been good (actually, quite the opposite), but because it seemed like the type of film that gets so hyped-up in the States, because it’s so different/original from anything our lazy, cheeseburger-lovin’ asses see. It doesn’t matter if the film is bad or anything, as long as it features something else other than giant robots facing off against one another, then hey, strap me in coach, I’m ready to play. Personally, I don’t mind that with some movies, but maybe with this here flick, I was more inclined to be against it, solely because everybody and their weird, stay-inside-all-day-nerdy-brothers are loving the hell out of it.

But fear not, ladies and germs! DTMMR has seen Snowpiercer and yet again, DTMMR has given into what the rest of the world has been saying: It’s pretty rad.

That said, the movie isn’t perfect and I think that’s the most important fact to note right away. Because see, while this movie is all sorts of ambitious, strange and, for lack of a better word, “different”, it can be a bit messy. Not just with the action that spills out all over the place at times, but because the balance Joon-ho has here between having people beat the bloody hell out of one another, with said people sitting down, chatting about life and what it all means, isn’t very well-done. You can tell whenever the brakes on this movie are hit, because it doesn’t just slow everything down to a slower-speed, it slows absolutely everything down to a freakin’ halt.

That’s not to say that whenever the movie wanted to sit down, chat for awhile and be more than just “poor vs. rich; fuck yeah!”, it was bad or annoying, it was just clearly obvious that Joon-ho felt like he had to include those moments in there, just so that people wouldn’t be upset that there wasn’t any “substance” behind all of the brutal murders and acts of violence. And although those said brutal murders and acts of violence are a bunch of juicy-fun to watch and see play out, there was still a desperate need for this movie to be about something “more”. Not just in the existential-crisis kind of way where we all take a break or two from the action, to sit around and cry for hours on end about how, one day, we’re all going to die; but in the way that we’re given a story that feels like there’s a reason to it existing.

And for the most part, Joon-ho totally delivers on that point. Not because it’s fun to see a bunch of poor people dressed like chimney-sweepers from a Dickens novel, battle it out with a bunch of riot police, but because you get lost in their cause and what it is that they want. Although, I will admit, it was more interesting seeing as how this movie never quite addresses what it is that these poor ones are wholly fighting for; sure, they want to get to the front of the train, get to that engine, talk to the owner of it and become the big men and women on campus, but in all honesty, what exactly is it that they’re going to do when they get up there? It’s never really brought to our attentions (not just by the film, but by the characters themselves), which is why it’s so thrilling to see them battle their way to the front, and even more thrilling to watch them as they figure out and come to the realization that they have to think of something, and something quick if they want this train to be theirs.

That the film doesn’t feel the need to hit us over the head with non-stop “we’re the 1%” metaphors, really felt like a refresher. But was even more refreshing was just seeing an sci-fi/action blockbuster be exactly all that it should be. It has heart; it has originality; it has blood; it has violence; it has fun; it has sci-fi; it has themes about people taking over control of a situation that they either can’t get out of, or don’t want in the first place that almost everyone can relate to (looking at you, Grandpa); and, to add a cherry on top, there’s a wonderful ensemble cast to go along the ride with as well.

Also, another interesting note to be made about this movie, is it’s cast. Not only are there some pretty big names, but they all comes from different shapes, sizes and regions of the world that it feels so strange having them together, on the same screen at times. Sure, I expected Jamie Bell and John Hurt to eventually cross paths in the film world, but you could have never told me that you’d expect to see Ewen Bremner and Octavia Spencer just hanging out, side-by-side, giving their enemies hell. Then again, maybe you could; maybe, I’m just a strange duckling. But either way, it’s a pretty unique cast that not only works to the movie’s advantage, but also helps make the idea of the whole world being thrown onto this ultra-train all the more believable.

Tilda Swinton wants YOU to spend your money on this movie, and stop giving it to Michael Bay.

Tilda Swinton wants YOU to spend your money on this movie, and stop giving it to Michael Bay.

You can’t just have a dystopian-set futuristic world in which survivors from all throughout the globe have survived, and there be all American white guys just hanging around and shooting the shit about the good old days of bull-shitting about the Bush administration. This is the world, man! And last time I checked: It’s pretty damn big!

But although the cast is huge and pretty eclectic, the one who really leads this to the finish line is none other than an American white guy as is: Chris Evans.

Yes, for most of you hormone-fueled women (as well as gay man), Chris Evans has definitely been the pleasure of your eye-lids for quite some time, but he’s changing that all up now with this role. Not by throwing some dirt on himself and growing a beard, but by showing us that he’s an actor baby, and that he can sure as hell do exactly that, which is act! I’ve always had much faith in Evans as an actor, and here, he’s given free reign to not only command this group of his and be a leader, but also command this movie into being something more than just a sci-fi tale full of havoc, blood and destruction. He gives it some levity; most importantly so during one of the last scenes in the movie in which he talks about his history on that train, why he needs to do what he needs to do, and the type of effect it’s had on him for the past twenty or so years. Not only is it one of the most emotional scenes of the whole movie (of which there isn’t many), but it’s definitely the pinnacle of Evan’s acting-ability and shows that he can play both tough, angry, and emotionally distraught, all at the same time.

A very impressive feat. Try topping that, Downey.

Consensus: Internally, Snowpiercer is a messy flick, but it’s hardly ever boring, intriguing, nor against a crazy, out-of-the-box idea it didn’t like, making it one of the better, more memorable blockbusters of the summer.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Guess they don't have showers in the future. Oh well. Works for me!

Guess they don’t have showers in the future. Yay! Now I’d have an excuse!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBAceShowbiz

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31 responses to “Snowpiercer (2014)

  1. ninvoid99 July 5, 2014 at 4:14 am

    I’m going to see this film this weekend as I’m glad Bong Joon-Ho stuck to his guns and told Harvey Weinstein to fuck off as the version that is playing is his final cut.

  2. Joseph@thecinemamonster July 5, 2014 at 6:23 am

    Terrific review! It’s definitely messy, but god damn Snowpiercer is an entertaining piece of work!

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  4. mettelray July 5, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    I liked it a lot and I was surprised by it. As you said, it was messy and well, it did try its best to annoy mw with the logical questions at time to time, and well, the rambo-villain guy just bothered me so much. What also became interesting was seeing Octavia Spencer there in the first place, because… 17 years on those black things.. she wouldn’t be so curvey but that’s just picking at those small details that could make the whole movie look a bit more authentic. Not to mention the fact that Chris Evans sure was beefy for a guy who lived in a cramped train, that didn’t seem to have a gym, for 17 years.

    Eventually though, I liked how those little things actually didn’t bother me that much.. which you know, was nice.

    • CMrok93 July 5, 2014 at 3:58 pm

      Yeah, if you wanted to nit-pick this thing to death, you totally could. However, I was just so wrapped into everything that I couldn’t get bothered by the small things. Just enjoyed the ride.

  5. angie chui July 5, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    This was a really good one. I didn’t expect to be so blown away when I saw this in the cinema a while back but I was. I truly was. 😀 Great review

  6. The Telltale Mind July 5, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Definitely one I have been waiting to see. Sounds good by your review!

  7. MovieManJackson July 5, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    Sounds like a must watch. Doubt I’ll get it in my theater but On-Demand is likely.

  8. Roy Sexton (Reel Roy Reviews) July 5, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    thanks for this fabulous review – I admit I am very intrigued by this film which wasn’t even on my radar two weeks ago!

  9. jsazin July 5, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    Great review man. Going to see this in a couple days, been hearing some really good things about it.

  10. Three Rows Back July 5, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    Great review. Man, I really wanna see this.

  11. thycriticman July 5, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    This is an excellent action flick and I’m glad that folks love it just as much as I do! It is unique and original in a world of ordinary and generic action films!

  12. The Celtic Predator July 5, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    I have to say that my main complaints with the movie were not its transitions between the violence and the exposition, which I thought were well done, but rather the sort of neither here-nor-there ending that tries to find a middle ground between 1984 utter bleakness and a cliched Elysium-style happy ending. Also, I actually found that monologue by Evans at the end about people cutting off their arms and feeding them to each, along with the “babies taste best” line to be just so absurdly grim and ludicrous that I couldn’t take it seriously. Lots of people have been praising that sequence and I had a hard time keeping a straight face while watching it.

    Still, these are mostly just nitpicks and I thought SP was one of Bong’s better films, up there with ‘Mother’ and ‘Memories of Murder.’ Plus, it was cool to see such an international cast together in one film as you mentioned, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Song Kang-ho, AND Captain America? That’s an eclectic cast alright.

  13. alishki July 6, 2014 at 12:36 am

    Nice pop corn flick, saw it at the movie theater a couple of months ago and wrote about it. Tilda was the highlight I felt. They could have done a better job creating a grimmer mood. Would love to see the original version to compare the two!

  14. Tom July 6, 2014 at 3:32 am

    Can’t wait to see this man, great review!!!

  15. Jordan July 6, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    I can’t wait to see this, but I don’t think it’s out in the UK for a while. It sounds really interesting, and I think you’ll find that manly men have a thing for Chris Evans too….! Great review, Dan!

  16. Lights Camera Reaction July 6, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    Glad you liked it! Snowpiercer was one hell of a ride and I loved every moment of it.
    My favourite sequence was the Alison Pill bit.

  17. Mark Hobin July 7, 2014 at 7:31 am

    An extraordinary film. One of the very best of 2014. I LOVED it. Great review.

    P.S. Chris Evans changed it up, got dirty, had a beard and showed us he could act in Sunshine way back in 2007.

  18. CinemaClown July 7, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    That classroom scene & the one where in the middle of the massacre they celebrate new year… Pure Bong-Joon ho trademark 😀 …So much to love about it although its ending felt slightly stretched. Great review as always, Dan.

  19. Nostra July 8, 2014 at 11:05 am

    Nice to see a high score for this, have not seen it myself but am looking forward to it.

  20. Thaddeus July 11, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    I have been trying to watch this movie, and I have failed at that, over and over. in my defense, once was due to a flood warning, another time they sold 15 mins before I tried to buy a ticket, and then finally I got two tickets and the freaking projector broke.

    Great review! I hope it lives up to my expectations =)

  21. Zoë July 15, 2014 at 9:45 am

    Great review Dan. I am glad to see you were a fan. I was very taken with it, flaws and all. Evans there at the end? WOW, that was one heck of a performance.

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  23. Caroline Crow March 16, 2016 at 8:55 am

    I will now rematch the end to see this moment of bliss for a Chris Evan’s fan. As a lover of Science Fiction in the pages and in the films, I almost hated this movie. I seriously hated The Giver more until I realized as a teacher the movie truly inspires seventh graders to make better movies based on novels -when they grow up. That is how this movie was to me. I don’t love the graphic novels, either- so there is that. I still think Chris was awesome because I am blinded by anything he is in, but this is my least favorite movie of his. For me though – it was the problems with the actual story- where were the cows grazing because one of the cars had a Rocky meat locker. And the sushi bar scene was only saved by Curtis making that woman eat a protein bar. And based on the survivors, the world is in deep trouble because her skill set isn’t camping in the frozen tundra. Oh, seriously I strongly disliked the story- how did the engine kids eat if they had to use their hands all day? The plot twist at the end did not give me an aha moment- it just made me grateful that I would probably have died and not been on that train. See- I am annoyed all over again.

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