Monday, June 16, 2014

Film Review: Snowpiercer (2013)

Snowpiercer (Review)
United States/South Korea/2013
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray (Panorama) (Hong Kong)
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"I only wish I could have more."

After a failed experiment to stop global warming brings humanity to the brink of extinction, the survivors find themselves in a massive, non-stopping train separated by class...

Snowpiercer drops us 17 years after the failed experiment in 2014 (which leaves the story at 2031) as the passengers of the tail plan a revolution. The tail is the poor side of the train, whereas the front is the rich and luxurious side. The first half of the story takes place mainly on the tail as its inhabitants plan and execute their assault on the higher powers. The second half of the story follows tail leader Curtis (Chris Evans), security specialist and drug addict Min-Su (Song Kang-ho), his equally addicted daughter Yona (Go Ah-sung), and a few other tail survivors as they press on towards the front. All-around an engaging story with an immersive world, Snowpiercer leads a great ending.

Snowpiercer is a fantastic SciFi action film. There are a few plot contrivances and convenient plot points in the film, especially during the first act, but nothing too bad -- you won't roll your eyes or anything like that. The first half of the film has a stronger focus on action than the second half. On that point, the action is brutal, bloody, and exciting; it even packs quite a bit of variety. In other words, the first half was an epic action film. The second half doesn't necessarily stop being an action film, but it has greater focus on world and backstory -- and I loved it. This is where the world becomes engaging because every cart has a different theme, like a school or spa, and it looks wonderful. I was already hooked from the beginning, but, at this point, I was mesmerized. Add on some very humorous scenes, especially from Min-Su and Yona, and you have one extremely entertaining film.

I had a moderate stance on its themes. It's very blatant and some subtly would've been appreciated, but they still work in conjuring interest and contemplation. Also, there was a bit of an inconsistent mood at times. For example, some of the antagonists, like one particular :super-guard", come off as cartoonish. That would've been fine, but that cartoonish tone is rarely used in the film. I think if it had a little more presence it wouldn't have felt out of place. Regardless, they don't necessarily damage the film or become detrimental at all. In fact, it kinda gives the film more personality than it already has when you think about it, but it is worth noting for those expecting something bleak and realistic.

The acting was great. Chris Evans has a lot of high moments and a few lows, and he's overall a great leading man. Song Kang-ho still has great energy with his very genuine and humorous performance. However, I think Go Ah-sung really stole the show -- she's oozing with charisma. The only problem I had with the acting comes from some of the supporting cast, they sometimes come off as amateurish. (in this case, by supporting I mean the actors who play the guards, and I'd like to emphasize sometimes because it only occurred a few times.) The film is shot beautifully, I especially enjoyed the set design. The music is also well-fitted, creative like the concept and epic. The special effects are up to standard with many of today's blockbusters. Director Bong Joon-ho crafts a very stylish and entertaining action film; the world he creates is very unique, creative, and immersive -- I only wish I could have more.

Overall, Snowpiercer is a superb SciFi action film. The concept is interesting and masterfully executed by Bong Joon-ho, the action is exhilarating and versatile, the humor is hilarious and blends seamlessly, and the story is superb. Despite some issues with the plot contrivances and some of the supporting acting, I felt like the world this film brought me into was too mesmerizing to bring me down. I won't give it a perfect score because deep down I know it's not perfect, but I'll give it a near perfect score because I loved it -- don't miss it.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, some gore.

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