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Bong Joon-ho does a fantastic job of melding Korean-style action, over the top and uber-violent, with pure Western post-apocalyptic doom and gloom.

Mankind tries to fix global warming with a magic pill (lower our consumption? Steward our resources? You must be kidding! We’ll just SCIENCE our way to an answer!) that goes a little overboard, ushering in a new ice age that kills everything and everyone on the planet. Everyone, that is, except those aboard a train powered by a perpetual motion engine.

The train is structured just like a jumbo jet, with the wealthy up front, doing drugs and raves and eating sushi, while the destitute crowd into the last car, surviving on what looks like kelp gummy bars. Every now and then Tilda Swinton swoops down from the front to tell the poor how lucky they are to be on the train at all, and then steals their children for some unknown purpose (You find out eventually what they’re doing, and I was relieved to find out they’re not eating them.)

The first class passengers are full of exceptionalism and sanctimoniousness; they’re probably watching all three parts of “Atlas Shrugged” over and marveling at its truth and beauty. (That would be the longest train ride in the world.) But the passengers in the back keep attempting to storm the gates and get at the good stuff, because if history has taught us anything, it’s that this kind of social striation does not a stable society make.  Chris Evans (“Captain America”) leads the charge that finally makes it to the front, only to discover that everything isn’t quite what it seems.

Harvey Weinstein rather famously lost a fight to cut the film down to regular blockbuster size, but he lost.  Harvey Weinstein doesn’t lose very often, and the result is that this film was released with almost no publicity or promotion.  It’s one of the best-kept secrets of 2014, though I’m hoping that its presence on so many critics’ top 10 lists will garner it the audience it deserves.

Harvey’s loss is our gain. One of the joys of the film is that it isn’t in a rush to get to the front of the train. Each car functions as its own little microcosm, and we take the time to eat sushi and to experience a bizarre and wonderful history lesson with a crew of third graders along the way.  I suppose these changes in pace should feel jarring, but instead they’re exhilarating.  Too many action films are a race from beginning to end.  This one takes the time to look around, and finds some truly bizarre stuff to look at.  It makes it so much more fun to watch.

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Posted in All Reviews, by Will Krischke.

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  1. link clicker linked to this post on January 31, 2015

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    Snowpiercer –

  2. Top 10 Movies of 2014 - linked to this post on July 10, 2015

    […] Snowpiercer – Class warfare on an eternally running train at the end of the world. […]

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