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Movie Review: Snowpiercer

If you’re tired of the sci-fi genre being hijacked just so Tom Cruise can make another movie, or director Michael Bay can churn out another overlong, turgid Transformers epic, then there’s a new film you should flock to immediately. It’s called Snowpiercer and it’s not playing everywhere, so you’ll have to seek it out.

Based on a French graphic novel, South Korean director Joon-Ho Bong has crafted a thoughtful, thrilling ride through the future. In order to stop global warming, the countries of earth all agree to release a chemical into the atmosphere that will take care of the problem. Dumb idea, since the earth freezes and most everyone dies. The survivors endlessly circle the globe on a supersonic train that is self-contained for food, heat, and most of the other necessities of life. Unfortunately, the class system is back to square one. There is first class, there is the privileged class, and there is the ultimate steerage for the poor, old, and infirm. The allusions to slavery are all quite obvious, and those in such dire circumstances plan a revolt with the help of one whose leadership skills come to the forefront. You’ll find similarities to 1984, Soylent Green, Runaway Train, and even a musical nod to The Shining on your ride.

Director Bong, who helmed the highly acclaimed monster movie The Host several years ago, is given a bigger budget and a name cast for Snowpiercer. Chris Evans, the current Captain America, turns in another fine performance, with support from Jamie Bell, John Hurt, Octavia Spencer… Oscar winner for The Help… and the sensational scene-stealer Tilda Swinton as the noxious toadie for the Great Wilford, the mastermind behind the train. Ed Harris as Wilford holds everything together in his lavish digs dressed in pajamas and robe, sort of like Hugh Hefner.

The film is mostly in English, with a few subtitles here and there. But even at 126 minutes the pace never lags, as you become involved in this quite possibly last Noah’s Ark style salvation of mankind.

You can find the R-rated Snowpiercer showing full schedule at the Esquire Theatre, and for a couple of evening shows only at AMC Newport on the Levee.