Review: Snowpiercer (2013)

snowpiercer movie poster

“Know your place. Accept your place.”
– Mason

In the year 2031, the world has been destroyed. Global warming was becoming a serious issue and an experiment was launched to cool the atmosphere, bringing temperatures back to a more manageable level. Instead it froze the atmosphere, killing everything. Well, almost everything. On board the very special Snowpiercer, a perpetual-motion train created by Mr Wilford, there are survivors. The Snowpiercer ceaselessly travels a globe-spanning track, housing the only survivors of Earth. Cutis Everett (Chris Evans) seems to be someone that the residents look up to, someone they consider a leader – a role he is extremely uncomfortable with. They live in a few train cars, decrepit, poverty stricken, filthy… the lowest of the low. This is their world now. There is no way to better yourself, no option for advancement, nothing. It seems that a rebellion is brewing in the bowels of the train, to stop living in fear and as someone else’s slaves. The oppression must end. This is not living, this is captivity. Curtis’s right hand man, Edgar (Jamie Bell), is prepared to do whatever Curtis wants to get this rebellion underway. Curtis is communicating with Gilliam (John Hurt), a survivor of the last rebellion and a confidant of Curtis. They are receiving instructions from someone further up in the train, someone they believe to be in a position of power. They receive their notes in tiny silver capsules embedded in their protein blocks.

snowpiercer awakening security

“I belong to the front, you belong to the tail.” – Mason

When some woman comes from higher up in the train, she takes with her two children, one of Tanya (Octavia Spencer) and Andrew (Ewen Bremner). They viciously attempt to stop this, but are unsuccessful. Soon after Curtis realises that they are running out of time, and the rebellion’s time frame moves up significantly. They will have to start sooner than anticipated, and immediately they start. Tanya joins them in a desperate attempt to recover her son, and they are off. Their first stop is to fight through the security they are faced with after Curtis realises that the guns the guards wield must be empty, the bullets were used up in the last rebellion. They make way to the prison section where they awaken Namgoong Minsu (Song Kang-ho) and request his help, seeing as he was a part of the security of the train. He is a Kronal addict, and will only assist them if they supply the drugs for him and his daughter Yona (Go Ah-sung), who was sleeping in the next container, as long as he opens the doors on their journey to the front of the train. Relenting, the rebellion moves on. Lives are lost as the battle wages.

snowpiercer smoking

Gilliam sends Curtis along with Mason (Tilda Swinton), a higher up on the train, though not yet the all-powerful and extremely elusive Mr Wilford. She is a loyalist in the most extreme sense. Using her as a captive and guide, a small group of survivors advance once more. Curtis and his fellow tail end train people are horrified to learn that the other inhabitants of the train live in the lap of luxury, something that most people cannot even recall, some never even had access to that when Earth was normal. While they battled and lived in squalor, there is a huge section of the train that enjoyed tailors, restaurants and gardens, amongst other things. The train builds from the slums into a stunning area. Namgoong and Yona are seemingly on another little mission, and it does not take long for Mason to try and save her own skin again, attempting to turn on Curtis and his people. Curtis is intent on making it to the front of the train and facing Wilford himself, though Gilliam insists that he kill him and not give Wilford a chance to talk his way out of it. The children are still missing, and there is no luck in finding them, though it is evident that they were far forward on the massive train. As the journey through the Snowpiercer continues, the elite start fighting back – or, at any rate, Wilford and his security lot do, making this revolt that Curtis is a part of all the more difficult. Many more obstacles present themselves, including many that start to chip at Curtis, designed to bring him to his knees.

snowpiercer gilliam

Will Curtis and his group make it to the front of the train? Will he finally face off with Mr Wilford, the most revered man on the train? Will they ever be able to balance out the poverty and the comfort that the member of the train experience? Will this be the first successful revolt upon the Snowpiercer? Are their days of oppression almost over?

snowpiercer rebellion

“They’ve got no bullets!” – Edgar

GRADE 8.5I kept seeing reviews about this popping up the whole time and figured I should totally find out what that was all about. I went in relatively blind (again, I do my best), and I was pleasantly surprised. This movie was bizarre, but it was very well done. It had everything stacked against it due to the really closed environment and all that, but it turned out to be amazingly well done. I loved the camera work and the score. Chris Evans gave a wonderful performance, and (no spoilers, relax), the story that was told at the end really just bowled me over, his delivery was perfect, it was flawless. Song Kang-ho was equally impressive. I thought the two worked fantastically together. Song’s Namgoong was definitely a great character, definitely my favourite. He brought so much to the table. The plot itself was actually pretty good, though there were some things that I questioned, if you don’t worry too much about it they will become superfluous. At the same time, the issues are nothing to really get hung up over and allow to detract from the movie. I had no idea how they were going to sustain the concept, seeing as the train is small and a closed environment, but that was sorted out relatively soon, too. The movie is long but never actually go to the place where it felt that way for me. Tilda Swinton was absolutely disgusting in this, and she played her role well. She grated on my absolute last nerve. Gilliam was also a very cool character and I enjoyed him. The rebellion that they led from the tail was impressive, and there were plenty moments where it got incredibly intense. The movie, as I said, was really bizarre, but it just worked for me, I was truly very taken with it. I thoroughly enjoyed all the themes that it explored about society and class, government and leaders… it was interesting. It was a pretty movie to look at, too. I would recommend checking this one out!

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29 thoughts on “Review: Snowpiercer (2013)

  1. table9mutant says:

    What’s this? I’ve never heard of it. But I kind of like the sound of it after reading your review! Thanks, Zoe! : ) I’ve added it to my (very large) “watch list”. Haven’t actually put anything on that in ages. : )

    Like

    • Zoë says:

      What’s this? This is something awesome is what it is! But of course, I know the ever-looming watch list thing… this was rather decent though, so maybe bump it up a few spots! 😛

      Like

  2. ruth says:

    So so jealous you have seen this one Zoe!! It’s a shame that the Weinsteins wanted to dumb this down for US audiences. Plus we have to wait until Summer to see it 😦

    Like

    • Zoë says:

      I believe there was an issue with this but I was reading yesterday that everyone will be getting the same movie after there was almost a revolt about it hahaha. It is a great watch. How long until summer?

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  3. Tom says:

    Nice review Zoe, I really wanna see this! The concept and setting seems so interesting. Every now and then I’ll fall for these kinds of limited-setting type films. This one sounds like a GREAT one. And another chance to see more of Chris Evans’ capabilities.

    Like

    • Zoë says:

      Thanks Tom! It is very cool, I must say I had a good time with it! I thought the limitation might hurt it, but it definitely didn’t… added to it if anything! Oh, he was brilliant in this!

      Like

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