Note: This review contains NO SPOILERS. Read it to sell yourself on why you need to see this movie immediately, then read the other review for my thoughts on what actually happens.
When Inception came out in 2010, there was a great line I saw about it that went something like “Christopher Nolan has done the impossible: he’s taken $350 million and actually made a good movie with it.” So maligned is the big-budget summer action movie genre that it’s a surprise when one actually has more to it than bigger and bigger explosions.
Snowpiercer, although it’s getting a tiny release because of distribution company shenanigans, is completely the rightful inheritor of Inception‘s throne. It’s epic, dense, and completely awesome. It’s everything Elysium wished it could be (side note: don’t see Elysium; it’s terrible).
Based on a French graphic novel from the 80s, the premise is that an experiment to control global warming went horribly awry and plunged the entire planet into a new ice age. The only surviving humans– the only surviving beings of any species– live on one train that continuously circumnavigates the globe. Life on the train is so heavily stratified that the occupants of the tail end, the dregs of what remains of society, don’t even have windows. The train has been running for 17 years, we’re told in scant explanatory text at the very beginning. In that time, a number of revolutions have been attempted and never succeeded. Now the time seems ripe again for Curtis (Chris Evans) and a fantastic supporting cast (including Jon Hurt, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, and Song Kang-ho) to make another run for it.
This is a fantastic premise because you don’t know from the set up how it will end. You can imagine ways it might play out, but we don’t have a Hollywood archetype for the billionaire industrialist who runs the train that holds the world’s surviving human population. We have archetypes for rich industrialists, we have archetypes for people with untold amounts of power, but in this uniquely self-contained system, we don’t know what his motivation might be or how it will actually play out until it happens. And that’s awesome.
See this movie! See it now! Chris Evans is fantastic, it’s a great, inventive sci-fi movie, and the more people see it the more the Weinstein company will be forced to take note and maybe play fewer of these shenanigans in the future.
Highly, completely recommended