Snowpiercer (2013) — Fight your way to the front

“Curtis, everyone has their preordained position, and everyone is in their place except you.”

Justin’s rating: I think he can I think he can I think he can

Justin’s review: Often when it comes to media, I feel like I’m late to the party. Probably all of us do; there’s so many movies, TV shows, music, books, and games out there that it’s impossible to stay on top of everything, even just the most popular. So you’ll excuse me that it’s taken almost a decade to get around to watching Snowpiercer, even though it seems like one of those movies everyone around me has seen.

Well, better late than never, as they say?

It’s 2031, 17 years after a misguided climate control experiment turned the planet into a giant snowball. For reasons that aren’t clear, the only people who survived are ones that jumped on board a globe-trotting train. You know, just one of those many trains we have that circle the globe on tracks that, I guess, go across the Atlantic and Pacific.

I really don’t think we’re supposed to deeply analyze or question this premise, but it’s kind of hard not to.

In any case, while humanity has lived on in some fashion, the train population has segmented into extreme class divisions. The people in the back are the downtrodden workers (although it’s really unclear what they contribute, other than perhaps the occasional useful body for the elite), while the people in the front are granted every luxury left. It’s not really a sustainable situation, although it’s been dragging on for a while.

So the mission is pretty straight-forward: Curtis (Chris Evans, channeling his best grimy Christian Bale) leads a revolt of the people from the back of the train to attempt to make it all the way to the front engine and gain control. In so doing, we get a violent and bloody tour of this bizarre life raft and the world around it. Between cockroach vats and fancy aquariums, it’s a whole bunch of stuff that you wouldn’t expect to see on your next Amtrack trip.

I think the appeal of Snowpiercer is that there’s always something to watch. Every train car either gives us a new glimpse of a very tailored apocalypse scenario or a crazy fight sequence in tight quarters.

And speaking of arresting, let’s give a wild shout-out to Tilda Swinton’s portrayal of a — I almost don’t know how to label it — fascist minister of propaganda? You instantly hate her, yet you can’t take your eyes off of her. That’s a sign of powerful acting right there.

No, the whole humanity-living-on-a-moving-train thing makes zero sense, especially if you consider that everyone will die if any part of the tracks — that haven’t been maintained in over 17 years of frigid cold, mind you — fail. But I really wanted to see what happened when they got to the front, and that creates more momentum than any  out-of-control train will.

In the end, I found Snowpiercer to be a bit overrated from all of the praise given to it. It’s not quite as clever or as insightful of a class commentary as it might pretend to be, which leaves us with a somewhat ludicrous post-apoc setup and a bunch of mindless scenes of wanton violence. It’s a gussied up popcorn flick for the scifi set, let’s leave it at that.

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