When I wrote about Unstoppable, I’ll admit I thought it was a silly train movie. Possibly the silliest I had ever seen. Then I watched Snowpiercer and, don’t get me wrong, it’s a good, serious movie, but it features some of the same flaws that most apocalyptic films have in spades.
The characters, many of whom were played by well-known actors who are coming up in the world, molding their craft, and starting to branch out into different roles and genres. The special effects were absolutely stunning, bringing to life a beautiful world frozen over while the titular train itself was no pushover in the aesthetics department. The plot was interesting and engaging and, as always, the science doesn’t make any sense (but we can ignore that because it’s a movie). As I said before, Snowpiercer is a good movie and it is a serious one at its core, but while I was watching it, I had this feeling the entire time that it was silly.
All that remains of humanity is on a single train that is in perpetual motion through the frigid wasteland that is Earth. The rich live closest to the engine while the poorer (especially those who didn’t pay to get on the train) live in the back where they are treated abhorrently. In a time when 99.9% of humanity is dead, I absolutely freaking love that social economic status can still dictate the type of life you’ll live… in a train, in a freaking eternal winter for the rest of your life. We are never given any implication that there is any way for one to increase their status, so you’re basically stuck where you paid for, forever. This includes any children you may have, despite them having never had the choice or chance to make a better life for themselves.
It’s flawed but then again it’s a movie and it’s trying to explain a certain philosophy to us. Chris Evans, better known to the world now as Captain America is our main character Curtis (Although, for me, he will always be Jake Wyler – the Jock from Not Another Teen Movie, yeah you know that movie like the back of your heart! Although there was that time he acted alongside Scarlett Johannson, you know the film, The Perfect Score). And while he is the centerpiece of the film, this is just another example as to why a strong supporting cast can make or a break a film. In this case, a lot of the characters lacked substance but were still effective and engaging when you got to see them shine. The subtle emotional nuances between them is what held my attention.
Jamie Bell plays Edgar, Curtis’ second-in-command, and their relationship is the crux of the first half of the film. At times it feels like Edgar idolizes Curtis a lot more than simple hero worship implies, but then again this could have just been me. Other supporting players include Octavia Spencer as Tanya, a mother whose child is taken early on and is the reason she decides to journey through the treacherous train, Tilda Swinton as Mason, the Minister who constantly reminds the people of the tail that they’re worth little more than the shit they eat, Song Kang-ho as Namgoong Minsu, the specialist who designed the security for the train and is the McGuffin the characters are after in the beginning, and Go Ah-sung as Yona, the specialists’ daughter who was born on the train and seems to possess some sort of precognitive ability.
It might be silly, in my humble opinion, but I actually did enjoy it. I do believe that Snowpiercer deserves your attention and appreciation.