Tag Archives: Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer Review, A Science Fiction tale of Revolution

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Snowpiercer

Directed by: Bong Joon-ho

Starring: Chris EvansSong Kang-hoGo Ah-sungJamie BellAlison PillJohn HurtTilda SwintonOctavia Spencer, and Ed Harris

Tales of oppression have been told many times and the poor rising up against the rich is a common theme. Last year Elysium and the year before The Dark Knight Rises both told interesting variations of this tale but neither did it in a way that Snowpiercer did it. Snowpiercer is a visually stunning and philosophically intriguing, in the end it is hard not to find something for everyone in it. Each single act has a different purpose and thrives when doing so. Blockbusters now a days fail to live up to anything interesting while at the same time delivering the action and excitement that fuels Snowpiercer’s every scene.

Based on the French comic book Le Transperceneige, Snowpiercer tells the story of an experiment gone wrong causing the world to freeze over and the only survivors are housed in a train that runs across the world. The train never stops and keeps everyone safe from the freezing cold outside. The year is 2031 and the state of the society on the train is in shambles. After many failed revolutions, the men and women of the tail end of the train decide that revolution is the way to go. Lead by Curtis Everett (Chris Evans), the tail end members begin making plans to overthrow the rest of the train.

Everett has devised a plan to get to the front of the train and take control of the all-powerful engine. With the help of fellow tail end members, Edgar (Jaime Bell), Namgoong Minsu (Song Kang-ho), Tanya (Octavia Spencer), and others, storm the preceding cars and overthrow the evil ruler Wilford (Ed Harris) and Mason (Tilda Swinton). Their plan is to rid the train of any prejudice and make the remaining crew members live together in harmony.

Snowpiercer is a movie attempting to be two different movie and succeeds, for the most part. It is trying to be an action movie as well as a commentary and the oppression of society. It shows just how badly the rich oppress the poor in an attempt to use them for their own benefit. Each train car is a different parts of society and different places in our society, it’s most shown that the tail end is for the poor and the rich get the front of the train. In the middle are places derived for each social classes. The tail end has to work in certain cars providing for everyone while the rich get cars with sushi and a school. The commentary is bluntly obvious and really shows just how badly the poor do have it in society. It succeeds with showing us the struggle to gain freedom that certain parts of society have to go through.

Snowpiercer is a technical marvel. Shot on a very limited budget but the effects are more convincing that some movies with bloated budgets. The cinematography is dark and seedy but gives you a look into the live of those in poverty but at the same time shows the luxurious side of the rich but never really changes the grittiness of it. The action is well shot and brutal. One scene that baffles me is the scene where the revolutionist are fighting a bunch of masked men. It is weird simply because the masks are covering everything on their faces except their mouths. It is weird but also very enjoyable. I don’t quite understand the logic behind it but the way that it was handled was great.

 The acting is also great. Chris Evans yet again, after Sunshine, proves that he is more than Captain America. He gives Curtis a sympathetic edge to his character while also showing that he can bring emotions to a performance. The scene between Song Kang-ho and Chris Evans is by far the greatest achievement in his acting career. The stand out of the movie is Tilda Swinton. She takes on some of the ugliest roles and just makes it her own. It is clear that she is having a hell of a time playing the evil and crazy spokesperson for Wilford. Every scene with her contains so much energy and enthusiasm from her that it is simply astonishing that she hasn’t received more recognition for her work.

What I didn’t like about the movie was that it felt 20 minutes too long. 30 Minutes is devoted to setting up the conflict, an hour is devoted to solving this conflict, and the last 30 minutes dealing with the fallout of said conflict. I liked the way the movie was set up but when the action slowed down and dealt with the moral nature behind their actions it takes away from the momentum of the movie. I liked what the issues brought up but I felt like they were spending too much time on it. The one scene that I felt was way too long was when the Teacher (Alison Pill) is telling everyone about how Wilford and the train came to be. I know it is needed exposition but it was dragged out way to an unbearable length and could have used some trimming.

Despite some flaws with the runtime, Snowpiercer is a hell of a ride and shows just how well you can balance action and story.

Grade: B+

Sunshine Review, An Intriguing Premise Never Fully Realized

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Sunshine

Directed by: Danny Boyle

Starring: Rose ByrneCliff CurtisChris EvansTroy GarityCillian MurphyHiroyuki SanadaBenedict Wong, and Michelle Yeoh

Science Fiction is a genre full of ideas. They tend to be the most thoughtful and interesting films that could use philosophy to its benefit. As of late science fiction has become something of a genre filled with action and superheros but they’ve lost the touch that made films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey a classic. Sunshine is an existential science fiction film filled with philosophy and an interesting idea. I mean for the first two acts anyways. Some where during the writing process they thought it would be a good idea to completely shift gears and turn it into a standard Alien rip-off. The movie had so much going for it until it fell into a clichéd ridden mess.

In 2057, the sun is dying and Earth is on the brink of extinction. Sent up into space to reignite the sun, a group of space travelers load a massive bomb on to the Icarus II. It is the final time that mankind can achieve such a mission. Once out of range of Earth’s communications  a distress signal is recovered from Icarus I. In an attempt to make contact with the space ship, it is decided that the crew is going to make their way to Icarus I so that they can get their hands on a second bomb and have more than one chance to reignite the sun. Once on the Icarus I they meet someone who will interfere with their mission.

The movie begins with a solid concept, the last remaining crew members must deal with the harsh reality of space, but as soon as the villain of the movie comes aboard everything goes wrong. An hour in it is all about the survival of the crew within space mixed with the philosophy of their journey. It bares influence from 2001: A Space Odyssey and usually succeeds until the third act. The majority of the problems come from the complete shift of tone of the movie. Before you have this think piece that is interesting and then after the one hour mark it turns into Alien. The villain, Pinbaker (Mark Strong), essentially stalks his prey on board the ship and is intent on killing them. He is an interesting character in a whole. It feels disingenuous to the rest of the film. It makes me feel that the writers didn’t know where to take the movie and just decided that the best thing to do was create a villain that wanted to thwart their plan. It’s slightly lazy considering the rest of the film is incredibly thought provoking and one of the best things that the genre has to offer.

The movie is still relatively well made. Danny Boyle is one of the most competent directors working today. His vision wis this movie is incredible and the end thirty minutes is one kinetic thrill ride with insane editing but it conflicted with the slow and mellow hour before. The performances are intense and really showcase the actors abilities within the source material. Chris Evans seems to be best in situations like theses. Snowpiercer is another movie that really shows just what he is made of. The music is really well known now and it is amazing how well it works with the movie.

If it wasn’t for the terrible third act of this film and I would label this as one of the best science fiction films in a long time. It’s concept is unbelievable and the execution is spot on. It is an interesting experimental but a flawed one.

Grade: C+

‘Snowpiercer’s’ VOD gamble is paying off

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Right now this seems to be the way that indie movies are going. Theaters chains are releasing them into a limited amount of theaters, which doesn’t promote seeing them very well. At the same time they are released OnDemand and on iTunes making them easier to access than most blockbuster. Being a cheaper option that general theaters this seems to be the way to go since more people are likely to see your movie if it costs less and is accessible . A good example is Ping Pong Summer, a movie I heard about two years ago, when I meet the director Michael Tully at my school, an it is only now getting distributed. No theater around me is playing it but it’s been OnDemand for a month now. Mind you I haven’t gotten to it yet but I like the option of being able to see it even if no theater is playing. I don’t think theaters will be going away anytime soon but having the this option is going to make indie films bigger than they would have been otherwise.