Snowpiercer Screen 22 articles



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  • Even given that it’s an adaptation of a graphic novel (Le Transperceneige), must every character be stock, every line written in a speech balloon, every parallel between each car on the train and its corresponding social level and function be so obvious? That aside, does the project really call for such clunky filmmaking?

  • Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer will likely stand as the most disappointing film of the festival, if not the entire moviegoing year. The Korean master's first failure, it lacks his trademark qualities and in their place offers sardonic, overwrought allegory, and an absolute overdose of clashing absurdities.

  • The film has enough thematic resonance for three George A. Romero movies, but Romero, despite his reputation as a hippy purveyor of social-protest horror films, played fair: He allowed his conservative bad guys to make occasional sense, and his liberal heroes to succumb to periodic foolishness. Snowpiercer preaches resolutely to the choir, and cinephiles in sync with the film's politics may still blanch at how snugly their interests are courted.

  • Less of a broad critique on capitalism than it is an amusingly sad and sobering illustration of how rigid power structures are sustained by inertia rather than progress... Snowpiercer is like watching a typical Hollywood action movie reflected against a funhouse mirror. It looks and sounds similar to the thoughtless garbage churned out by our studio system (noticeably cheaper, though), but it’s also dark, overtly political and profoundly weird.

  • [A] grandly ambitious, often ridiculous, finally stunning sci-fi drama... Snowpiercer is a grand folly that’ll often make you cringe, yet it demands to be seen. “A blockbuster production,” purrs Wilford, speaking of his own fiendish plan, “with a devilishly unpredictable plot”. Something like that.

  • Aside from Kim Hye-ja’s dominating turn in Mother, the star of Bong’s movies has usually been Bong himself. (This runs in his favor in Snowpiercer as his oddly cobbled together international cast performs unevenly and occasionally at odds from each other.) Though, what’s most remarkable about Snowpiercer is less his notable skill at managing mise-en-scène when the fighting begins than his delirious visions of the train’s different environments that we see in between bouts of carnage.

  • Watching Snowpiercer one cannot help but recall Marx’s italicized comment in The Class Struggles in France that “revolutions are the locomotives of history.” But a metaphor can only take you so far. What happens when the locomotive is trapped in an endless circle like a lab rat on a treadmill or, one of the many things that happens as events reach their tumultuous climax, the train runs off the rails?

  • I remember when I was a little kid my dad used to tell me stories about how my grandmother and her siblings survived the Depression. I remember him repeating variations on a sentiment she'd imparted: "Either you laugh or you cry." Well, Snowpiercer plays like that same maxim expanded on an epic scale. Its outlook is bleak and its plotting unsentimental... yet it's loaded with macabre comedy that makes its more polemic aspects easier to swallow, even if they still burn on the way down.

  • For whatever reason, this time I was more willing to accept the cartoonishly broad sociopolitical allegory as an equal partner with the deliberately ludicrous nature of _literally everything else in the goddamn movie_. Demanding that the subtext be nuanced just seems silly. That bar hurdled, I was ready to proclaim Snowpiercer a masterpiece until I smacked my head against its dopey ending, which is like the Matrix Reloaded Architect all over again.

  • ...The film is as rich and complex as [Bong's] previous work. One of those rare actresses whose very physical presence lends a special aura to each film she appears in, Swinton, who reportedly relished the opportunity of working with Bong, brings a much needed dash of panache and imagination to her performance. Without a doubt, Bong’s train-ride was one of the unforgettable highlights of the festival.

  • ...An enormously ambitious, visually stunning and richly satisfying futuristic epic from the gifted Korean genre director Bong Joon-ho... “Snowpiercer” has been brought to the screen with the kind of solid narrative craftsmanship, carefully drawn characters and — above all — respect for the audience’s intelligence rarely encountered in high-concept genre cinema except when directors like James Cameron, Christopher Nolan and Guillermo del Toro are at the helm.

  • While pacing has not always been Bong’s strong suit, Snowpiercer’s two-hour running time has nary a dull moment. The exhilarating action is coupled to an intricate and involving narrative peppered with both mordant humor and affecting pathos. Bong, whose 2006 film The Host remains the highest-grossing film in his country’s history, expertly juggles beautifully executed, truly breathtaking fighting sequences, and detailed yet elegantly deployed exposition.

  • I think what I love most about this movie is that its intellectual infrastructure – "everything in its right place" – is hardwired into the intricacies of the filmmaking. Every word, gesture, motivation, speech, shot, sound, cut-away has its place. This translates even more fully on a second viewing. Look out for a tiny glance in the opening 10 mins which gives Vlad Ivanov's apparently misc psycho comb-over enforcer a heartbreaking gay revenger plotline...

  • It’s this perceived predictability that becomes the movie’s greatest strength. Watching Snowpiercer is like having the crap beaten out of you by a judo master: the weight of your own expectations keep dumping you on the floor. The predictable sci-fi blockbuster plot points keep getting overturned in ways both large and small.

  • ...Snowpiercer is a headlong rush into conceptual lunacy—but you’ll love it anyway. Silly doesn’t even begin to describe a perpetually cruising luxury rail, teetering around high-altitude curves and pounding through the ice of a dead world. Hollywood rarely goes quite this nuts, and the foreign-made production, helmed by South Korea’s Bong Joon-ho (The Host), gets at a kind of daring, giddy excitement that plays like something our movies have lost.

  • The film’s flamboyant internationalism, and the fact that Bong has attempted to cram so much imaginative richness into a relatively small package (this is only a 125-minute film, pretty concise in comparison to the excessive Hollywood tent-pole running times we’ve become used to), all this is part and parcel of the film’s ambition. For all its weight and seemingly cumbersome monumentalism, Snowpiercer is actually as streamlined and efficient as the train itself.

  • ...It’s what Bong does with that parable that makes the relentless, politically provocative and visually spectacular “Snowpiercer” the best action film of 2014, and probably the best film, period. This is a gripping and beautifully integrated adventure...

  • It plays like a cross between a Terry Gilliam movie and a BioShock game; the latter referent becomes substantially more pronounced once the characters arrive at the forward cars and the movie turns into a series of warped environments that have to be crossed entrance-to-exit, ending with the personal chambers of an enigmatic ruler who rejiggers the narrative into a commentary on itself.

  • Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer made for a perfect post-apocalyptic straddling of the two program strands and was highly entertaining to boot... [It] holds together marvellously, notwithstanding the heterogeneity of its elements.

  • We think we know what to expect from action scenes, just as we think we know what to expect from post-apocalyptic movies and tales of revolution. Again and again, Snowpiercer plays against the expectations it sets up. Up through its final moments, this is a film that is thrillingly, unnervingly unpredictable.

  • Bong seems to understand something many others don’t, both about broad entertainment and the state of successful political action. Big action demands broad strokes; nuances emerge later. In fact, this is to a large degree the political subtext of Snowpiercer itself... Moving from car to car is a vulgar-Marxist revolt organized like a videogame, easy to understand and equally easy to dismiss.

  • Bong’s point is that the end of capitalism would not be possible without considerable violence on both sides. We see this also in the anti-capitalist films of the Soviet master Sergei Eisenstein, who also depicted scenes of violent upheaval and brutal repression in “Battleship Potemkin” and “Strike” (both 1925). The end of capitalism, it seems, would be tantamount to the end of the world.

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