Warning! This entire discussion contains spoilers for Snowpiercer.

In a future where a failed climate-change experiment has killed all life except for the lucky few who boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe, a new class system emerges.

Genre: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi

Director: Bong Joon Ho

Writer: Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand, Jean-Marc Rochette

Actors: Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton

Release Year: 2014

Read more about on IMDb.

Evie Totty | June 1, 2014

Scott Hardie | June 2, 2014
I was looking forward to making this Lucy with Scarlett Johansson, because it looks so trashy and stupid and I want to tear it apart. But that's not coming out in July after all, so instead let's talk about Snowpiercer, which I hope to have nicer things to say about.

Evie Totty | June 2, 2014
Ok, I couldn't stand it. I downloaded and watched it.

Just like The Host, this is live-action Anime. I loved this movie for the production design alone. The awesome story behind it was a bonus. And given this is a foreign film (aka not necessarily a happy ending with your favorites surviving) it was great knowing (or not) who was going to live and who was going to die.

When Mason was explaining Balance to them while they were eating sushi ... I knew something was up. I just didn't know the details. Though I DID know that there was more to Gilliam. I knew he was in contact with Wilford in some way.

And oh my god, that monologue by Evans at the end. It's well known that I'm a fan of Evans superficially but dang. The delivery of it was heart-wrenching.

I didn't see the Willy Wonka part of it until Wilford stated Curtis was a crazy-person. Then I was like 'My God'. Wilford is exactly correct. Balance has to be maintained. You can't have a population deviation in a closed ecosystem like that.

I did hope, however, that Curtis had taken him up on it and found another way to achieve balance. You don't have to cull the population. You can curb it via birth control. Though I am not sure how feasible it is as a long-term solution. How hard it would be to synthesize the HCG to trick the body into thinking it's pregnant so it doesn't ovulate. But it should at least have been investigated.

But alas, he didn't even get the chance to try. That choice was taken out of his hands.

Looking forward to seeing this on the big screen.

Scott Hardie | August 9, 2015
Had I seen this in time, I would have ranked it ninth on my best movies of 2014 ballot, bumping it up one notch on the collective list. Yes, I confess to liking the only mildly entertaining Muppets Most Wanted more than this. I don't know why I'm so out of sync with everyone else's high opinion of Snowpiercer: professional critics rated it 95% on the Tomatometer, and it's popular here too. I would guess the cause was hypekill if I had known about all of those glowing reviews before I saw it, but I didn't. I suppose it was a combination of having seen too many other class-war sci-fi movies over the years that made this seem less groundbreaking, and being disappointed in the ending.

I understand the point of the ending: The ecosystem balance that Curtis revolted against is necessary for the train's ongoing operation, and so the only way to prevent suffering long term is to derail the train, and every character gets more or less the fate that they deserve. But I found the ending unsatisfying in a number of ways: 1) What was the point of resurrecting the assassin-henchman who seemed to die in the yellow sauna car? He came back, he got in a fight with Nam on the bridge over the gears, and it went nowhere, unless I forgot something. 2) The protagonist Curtis has little agency in the ending, being reduced to a bystander who spends his final minutes doing one heroic act for a minor character, sacrificing his hand to free Timmy. He doesn't even get a final speech where he repudiates Ed Harris's disgusting ideas; Harris's cruel comments and deeds are just left hanging in the air, unchallenged. 3) The characters who bring about the train's destruction, Yona and Nam, aren't trying to destroy the train; they're just trying to get outside through the door. The grand act that destroys this evil society is an accident. 4) What the hell was up with Ed Harris's reaction to the imminent derailment? "Nice" he says sarcastically while taking a bite of steak? This man's entire life since childhood has revolved around building and maintaining this train, and his reaction to the destruction of his life's work is snarky bemusement? 5) Yona and Timmy don't even bother to see if anyone else survived in their own car, let alone other cars nearby on foot, which I find implausible, but whatever, the movie needed to end. 6) The polar bear indicates that survival in the wild is possible. But if Yona and Timmy are indeed the only humans left on Earth, as the ending implies, doesn't that mean the human race is dead anyway? They alone are not capable of populating the Earth like Adam and Eve. So, the moral of the story is a happy one: The only way to stop the inherently unjust and abusive nature of human society is to exterminate all humans. Yay.

I did like the cast. Chris Evans's boyish good looks tend to limit his casting range, but he keeps finding small ways to rebel against what Hollywood would do with him, and participating in this grimy dark sci-fi film (and throwing himself into the wrenching final monologue) is another respectable turn in his career. Kang-ho Song was pretty good as Nam, and it's worth checking him out in the vampire thriller Thirst if you liked him here. As it goes with half of the things she appears in, I didn't recognize Tilda Swinton until her name came up in the credits; she's a chameleon who creates totally unique and memorable characters. I had no idea who would turn out to play Wilford, but I knew it had to be a big-name actor, or possibly no actor at all (like Wilford turns out to be a computer or long-dead or something), because having Wilford turn out to be a no-name actor, even one who was good in the part, would be too anticlimactic after 90 minutes of anticipation to meet him. Even the margins are filled in with interesting actors: That's Steve Park from Fargo and In Living Color as Fuyu, captain of the guard, and of course Alison Pill from The Newsroom as the sunny schoolteacher in a great satirical scene.

I hope that someone in the marketing department for this movie thought to purchase ads inside commuter trains in big metropolitan areas, to give hardworking folks something to think about as they ride the tracks to and from their station in society each day.

Am I way off base about the ending? How did you interpret it?

Evie Totty | December 9, 2021
HAH! You can tell I didn't figure out the subscription system til way after this (I saw another unanswered question for Ultron from you, Scott).

Yes - the ending was super shitty and not satisfying at all - but I chalked that up to the 'foreign film' aspect of it (a hard lesson I learned from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon years before).

But let's face it - Agent Smith is absolutely correct:

"I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had, during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you aren’t actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with its surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply, and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague, ..."

and Earth is better off without us on it.

I'll have to check out Thirst.

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