Monday, July 7, 2014

Know Your Place. Accept Your Place. Be a Shoe.

At a time when Hollywood is known for churning out reboots and sequels, playing it safe and avoiding originality like the plague, a gem like ‘Snowpiercer’ comes along and restores our optimism and faith in humanity.  Well, not exactly, since (a) movies like this are the exceptions and not the rule, and (b) it’s technically a product of South Korea rather than Hollywood, but who’s complaining?
Based on an obscure French graphic novel called ‘Le Transperceneige,’ ‘Snowpiercer’ is the 'Polar Express from hell' and Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s dystopian 'steampunk' sci-fi masterpiece, eclipsing his previous big budget creature feature ‘The Host’ (not to be confused with the critically panned 2013 adaptation of the Stephanie Meyers novel by the same name).  A post-modern parable couched as a mapcap post-apocalyptic thriller which oozes with bloody violence, a unique visionary style and black humor throughout, ‘Snowpiercer’ is reminiscent of the early works of Terry Gilliam.  Perhaps not coincidentally, one of the movie's characters is named after the Monty Python alum.  'Snowpiercer' also boasts some well known actors, including Chris Evans (fresh from Captain America), Ed Harris, Octavia Spencer, John Hurt as the aforementioned 'Gilliam' and a bespectacled Tilda Swinton as the magisterial and gleefully twisted Minister Mason who resembles one of those classic stern English head mistresses and gave us the memorable quote of this review's title.
The underlying poor-stepped-on-by-the-rich undercurrent of ‘Snowpiercer’ is a recurring one in the sci-fi genre, most recently in ‘Elysium,’ ‘District 9’ and the ‘Total Recall’ remake, but the movie avoided the pitfalls of being preachy or heavy handed.  The movie is entertaining and stylish, offering a fantastic vision we've never seen before.  ‘Snowpiercer’ also differs from other movies in its numerous twists and philosophical dilemmas that lend the movie its unpredictability.  With a certified ‘fresh’ Tomatometer rating of 94% (97% among ‘Top Critics’) and an average audience rating of 75% on Rotten Tomatoes, critics and moviegoers agree that ‘Snowpiercer’ is an intelligent and spectacular sci-fi thriller well worth seeing.  So what are you waiting for?
Grade: A

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