Note: After the jump, this review DOES CONTAIN spoilers. It contains all my thoughts on anything that happens in the movie. If you’re interested in seeing the movie and haven’t yet, read this review to whet your appetite and check back here when you’ve seen it.
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).
Now that we’ve jumped and you know the premise of the movie, having seen it (surely!), here are my thoughts: OMGEATINGBABIESEXPLOSIONSEVERYONEDIESAHHHHHHHH
The short version is that this is my favorite movie I’ve seen in theaters that I can remember. I love it more than Inception, more than Killer Joe, more than just about anything. Masterpiece is a strong word, and I mean it. Let me count the ways.
It’s an obvious movie. There aren’t any tricks in the social structure or the obvious parallels to modern society. And yet, it doesn’t ram that down the audience’s throat! It’s a movie that can make a point and let it sit and not have to underline it three times and add a sparkly exclamation point. Case in point: when they’re in the aquarium car, they make the comment about how every so often some of the fish get eaten purely to maintain the balance of the ecosystem. Obviously, that’s the train itself in miniature, but they don’t drive it home by harping on the bottom feeders or noting the sharks as apex predators or anything else. They just make the comment and move on, leaving the audience to say to itself “Ah ha! I see what you did there, movie!” It’s not subtle, but it’s not cloying.
In the same way, Curtis’ reluctance to be the leader is never whiny or emotional in the way it could be. He doesn’t have a soliloquy or pout about not wanting to take the reins. He doesn’t want to, things happen, he has to. So he does. It’s so completely refreshing to see characters doing what needs to be done for once.
And OMG, that monologue. For such a chewy set of lines, Chris Evans walks a tightrope the width of an ant to deliver them. He doesn’t make it cheesy, he doesn’t make it all about his own involvement in the story, and the reveal isn’t overly dramatic. This is a man who is burdened beyond what we had previously imagined and it has taken a toll. It could so easily stray into camp or be straight-up distasteful, but he says it with such a dead, yet pained tone that you’re like “wait, shit, got real dark. OMG. It’s still going. OMG OMG. That man has lived through some terrible stuff. OMG.” (your mileage may vary on the number of times you think the letters O, M, and G, but the sentiment remains).
Another one of the best parts is the glorious costume and set design. It’s a Delicatessen-ish state of greyness and shabbiness paired with any Baz Luhrmann spectacle when they reach the middle cars. The whole thing is a joy to see on a screen.
This is the first movie in recent memory (maybe since Inception, actually) where, while it was still happening, my brain went “WHOA. That’s awesome!” And that point happened maybe half an hour into the movie, when Curtis jumped onto the battering ram and road it through a couple doors, and it didn’t let up.
You should have already seen the movie if you’re reading this post, in which case, please, tell me what you think in the comments or on twitter. In sum: Snowpiercer Snowpiercer Snowpiercer Snowpiercer Snowpiercer Snowpiercer. This is not only my favorite movie of the year so far, it’s in the top three or four of the last couple years combined.