Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Snowpiercer Review - 3½ Stars

Snowpiercer manages to take a goofy idea and make it thrilling, while advancing the art of the science fiction movie.  As in most of these kind of stories, the future looks pretty bad.  Snowpiercer begins with voice over broadcasts of a scientific breakthrough that will solve global warning.  As we listen we learn the breakthrough backfires and touches off a world-wide freeze.  Everybody dies, except for a lucky few who wind up on “Snowpiercer”—a train run by an eternal engine over tracks that span the globe.  The train makes the global trek in exactly one year.  Since the world has frozen, this train runs fast enough with a sharp enough point at the head to pierce the global ice and keep running.  The train’s eco system is perfectly balanced:  The rich sit up front, and the very poor huddle in the back.  Occasionally the Snowpiercer police charge the back and take one or two children over the protests of the impoverished.  Chris Evans — remember him as Captain America — plots with the aid of the veteran actor John Hurt — to take over the train.  The revolution comes and the rabble move forward car by car — with bureaucrat Tilda Swinton as their hostage.  Swinton adds wild craziness to the story — with her high-pitched voice and protruding teeth and increasing anxiety as she loses control of the masses.  South Korean actors Song Kang-ho and Ko Asung play a father daughter team with  the smarts to open the electric doors separating each car.  As the fighters kill and maime their way toward the engine, we see aquarium cars, farm cars, sauna cars, and orgy cars as well as an elementary class indoctrinating rich kids against the poor.  Oh yeah, it’s an allegory.  Directed by Korean Bong Joon Ho,  “Snowpiercer” has nothing in common with the usual stuff that chokes  the cineplex week after week.  “Snowpiercer” dishes  up a story both goofy and thrilling.  I came out of this with my head spinning.  Does it deliver what it promises?  One of the most unusual movies of the year.  Is it entertaining?  Wild and crazy.  Is it worth the price of admission?  For those who thrill to something new and different.