Thursday, 20 July 2017

TBT - Snowpiercer (2014)

I have a bit of a problem guys: I'm love a man who is completely unattainable. That man is Chris Evans. It hasn't always been this way. No no. Back in the Fantastic Four days I couldn't have cared less. Even the first Captain American film didn't do anything for me... I assume it's down to the creepy tiny Steve CGI. Yeah, I happily denied any attraction to Chris Evans for years and even presented arguments with my friend about why Robert Downey Jr. was a more attractive member of the Avengers. Then bloody Winter Solider went and got really good and suddenly Chris Evans starts to look better and better. By the time Civil War came out I was hooked. Seeing him do interviews with his Gifted co-star kind of made my ovaries explode. I don't know what's happening to me. It was because of my deep-seated interest in Chris Evans that I was so desperate to see Snowpiercer. I knew very little about it but had heard great things. Unfortunately, that proved difficult because the bloody thing wasn't released in UK cinemas. Then I managed to miss it on Netflix because I'm a bloody idiot. I became invigorated after seeing Okja earlier this week so went on a hunt to find a copy of Snowpiercer.

Now I've watched both Captain America and Snowpiercer, it's safe to say I won't be getting on a train with Chris Evans any time soon. It never seems to go well for his second in command. In the first his childhood friend Bucky Barnes fell to his death after being blasted out of the train. In Bong Joon-ho's adaptation of the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, Jamie Bell doesn't exactly come out on top after saving Evans' life. The film takes place in a post-apocalyptic world in which the vast majority of humanity were killed in a new ice age. After spreading a cooling chemical over the Earth to combat global warming went terribly wrong, a number of humans were given passage on a constantly moving train which circles the globe and keeps them safe from the cold. The passengers are split into the elites at the front and the undesirables in the final carriages. The elite are given all the luxuries that the train has to offer whilst the rear-passengers are forced to survive on the dregs.

Understandably, they are pretty pissed off at this and are eager to take over the train for their own benefit. With the help of his elderly mentor, Gilliam (John Hurt), Curtis Everett (Chris Evans) plans to lead his fellow passengers through the train to the engine. Curtis wants to stand face-to-face with the train's creator, Minister Wilford (Ed Harris) and find out what he is up to. Gilliam expects Curtis to take over driving the train and bring peace to the rear-carriages. To do this he must first free a prisoner, Namgoong Minsu (Song Kang-ho), who knows how to open the doors between carriages. They must fight their way through the train whilst being chased by guards. As they progress, Curtis finds out that there is more to the running of the train than meets the eye.

Snowpiercer is one of those refreshing films that takes something as pedestrian as a post-apocalyptic ice age and makes it utterly new. On the surface is sounds like something you've seen a thousand times: a band of disillusioned people band together to take over from their mysterious and uncaring leader. This film is so much more than that. Bong Joon-ho takes the conventions for this kind of film and uses them in ways that make them seem incredibly different. He's had fun with the scenario and created a haunting and exciting narrative. It is the opposite of the usual big budget action movies that explode in your face without having much substance behind it. The scope is obviously fair limited because the action takes place on a train. It feels very claustrophobic and the action sequences fence you in further. Snowpiercer draws you in to its bizarre new world and presents something so completely different to anything you'll ever have seen before. The shots that show the train travelling through a vast, snowy landscape are breathtaking and perfectly counter the dark and dingy interior of the rear-section of the train.

Like the train, the passengers are constantly moving forward but never getting anywhere. As they move further down the train we see carriages full of amazing little details. The car that has become the train's greenhouse or the aquarium are breathtaking. This film is clever and so beautifully made that is demands multiple viewings. All I really wanted to do after I watched it was to sit down and watch it all again. It is down to the superb direction and an amazing cast that this film keeps moving. Chris Evans is a strong lead in the role and is given a greater chance to great depth than he ever was as Steve Rogers. As Curtis makes his way nearer the train we see startling revelations that Evan's handles like a pro. Although, he comes a close second in terms of memorable performances thanks to Tilda Swinton's turn as Minister Mason, the train's second in command. She has the air of a smarmy politician but with the wicked streak of an out of control dictator. Swinton plays the character wonderfully and Mason becomes a spine-chilling adversary for Curtis.

The rest of the cast all play their own parts in making this film so special. It's an incredible film that should have been given a wider release. It is the antidote to ever thoughtless and obnoxious action blockbuster that comes out every year. The film has been crafted by people who really care and want to make a compelling and important story. It is the kind of thing that feels so similar whilst also feeling so unusual. I'm so glad that I finally got round to seeing this but am also incredibly annoyed with myself that it took so bloody long. If you haven't see it, then I suggest you hunt down a copy as soon as possible. You won't regret it.

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