By Eric Thomas
Summer movies are awful anymore, and this weekend is no exception. While I’m certainly going to give “Guardians of the Galaxy” a chance, many of the so-called “blockbuster” movies have left a lot to be desired. I genuinely miss action movies. Most of them come in the form of superhero movies anymore, and while that’s okay, I still long for the days when Bruce Willis made good movies. “Last Boy Scout” was awful, but it still would be a lot better than what has been released recently.
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” AND “Transformers” in the same year? Really?
This is why “Snowpiercer” was so awesome. It was released last year, and has slowly grown since through word of mouth. It’s a South Korean movie present mostly in English, directed by Bong Joon-ho, who gained some notoriety in the US when his 2006 monster movie “The Host” did moderately well. Forget all of that. This is an American style action film made by someone with a deep love for action movies. Skip all the other nonsense this weekend and see this movie.
This film takes place entirely on a train. Earth has finally paid the price for ignoring the pollution, and all of humanity exists on a gigantic train because the planet has frozen to the point where no life can exist anymore. The train is its own ecosystem, and it must keep going forward or all of humanity will cease to exist. The survivors of the apocalypse have kept social stratification intact, with rich people riding in the front of the train and poor people riding in the back. The movie begins with a revolution, and you can imagine how things progress from there.
Yes, it’s predictable, but that doesn’t matter. “Snowpiercer” lives on its presentation, and that presentation is excellent. The action sequences are brilliant. The shots of revolutionaries running with torches are really cool, and the villains are perfect. Tilda Swindon is excellent as the middle manager of the rich, but she’s upstaged by Alison Pill (Maggie from “The Newsroom”) who plays a teacher assigned to program the train’s children with train related propaganda. I won’t spoil who the boss of all this is, but when you get there, you will smile from ear to ear.
You’re probably tired of post apocalyptic movies. You’re not alone. I more or less had to win an argument to get my girlfriend to watch this thing. She has nothing against action movies, and largely agrees with me that they’re a lost art, but she has had it with the Hunger Games and its clones. Yes, a world that’s descended into a frozen hell-scape is a tired concept. Again, ignore that too.
“Snowpiercer” attempts to be a slightly political movie, but please don’t let that scare you off. The film moves forward at the same pace of the revolution and doesn’t waste much of your time being preachy. It loads you up on visuals and keeps swinging until the end, and when you get there your heart will be in your throat. Bonus points for not ending in the predictable way.
There are a few theaters showing the film in the area, but you can also get it Video On Demand, which is how I watched it. It’s available on Amazon, iTunes and a few other streaming services. Either way, it’s a great movie, and if you want to see some turtle-free action movies this weekend, I highly recommend it.