EXPECTATION: 2.5/5 stars
PROS: A well executed original story, highly detailed, good directing
CONS: Some iffy dialogue
Bong Joon-Ho is a korean director known best for his three critically acclaimed films “Memories of Murder”, “The Host” and “Mother”. He’s known for masterfully mixing genres and creating some of the most compelling and original thrillers in recent memory. I loved his past work but knew very little about his latest film “Snowpiercer”. Regardless, I decided to rent it around 3am during a sleepless night while looking for a break from the usual formulaic movies that clutter Netflix.
“Snowpiercer” is Joon-Ho’s first full English language film and it stars Chris Evans, an odd choice if I do say so myself. The movie poster looked unappealing and the opening graphics made me wonder just how low the budget for the movie was. I figured if anything it would be something to fall asleep to. But to my surprise it throws you into the middle (or end, depending which way you look at it) of its story, grabs you by the arm and takes off running. As is common in his films we get a nice blend of humor, suspense, mystery, science fiction and awe– a cocktail that must be experienced to be understood.
“Snowpiercer” is a highly imaginative world created by director Bong Joon-Ho, existing at the edge of reality and constantly pushing the limits of its absurd but simple premise. It can be summed up in one sentence but discussed for days, containing so many small but significant details that come together to make an astounding display of passionate film making. I found it difficult to bring myself to pause the movie just to take a restroom break. I just couldn’t stop watching. Many moments it feels as if you’re only being allowed to peek through the curtains at the world of “Snowpiercer” and it’s tough to fight the urge to stick your head out the window and see what else is out there.
Each scene progresses mercilessly, each character is relentless, the camera tight, the acting on point and the execution flawless. The pace plows forward, never losing traction of its story or its characters, paying equal attention to its action sequences as it does to its dialogue. No blood is spilled without reason, no action is mindless, and no character is unimportant. Everything has a purpose, a place, and a significance.
Despite packing a lot of original ideas into such a small space, the film is careful not to suffer from the common “sci-fi” ailment of self indulgence, never allowing gadgets, gizmos and mechanics to take the spotlight. It only explains to us the things that are relevant to the story, leaving everything else to our imaginations. The film takes a ‘less is more’ approach, careful not to overstay its welcome or to spend much time trying to fill you in on what you’ve missed. It exists in its present situation and we exist with it, and when the credits begin to roll there’s plenty to remain curious about. It’s in this way that the film expanded beyond its run time and only became better the more that I thought about it.
It’s a great accomplishment that will surprise you over and over again the less you know about it. It’s bizarre and funny, thrilling and dark, quick and unforgettable.
“Snowpiercer” is a surprisingly refreshing original science fiction film from korean director Bong Joon-Ho, reminding us how much fun it can be to watch a movie, while being a prime example of detailed film making at the same time. It’s highly entertaining, taking your curiosity hostage and then leaving your mind to wonder once the credits start rolling. I highly recommend it.