Tuesday, April 8, 2014

3 Short Paragraphs: Snowpiercer

2013, Joon-ho Bong (The Host) -- download

Snowpiercer is a Korean science fiction movie based on a French comic series from the 1980s called Le Transperceneige.  I have no idea how, but it has to be connected to another French series, novels this time, called  La Compagnie des Glaces, which was, incidentally, made into a terrible Canadian TV series called Grand Star. I say the two are connected because of the basic premise behind both -- it is the future and the world is covered by snow and ice. In the former, a single train traverses the planet containing the only surviving members of the human race. In the latter, the survivors are hiding inside massive cities that are connected by train systems, and yes, the trains play a big part in both the stories. The weird thing is that I have no idea why I know about both stories, not having any recollection of having seen translations of either stories. Either way, we have a Korean movie, that might as well be an American movie for all of its stars are white and English speaking but for two. But Bong Joon-Ho directed it, so its his and his country's.

So, yes the premise is a train filled with the survivors of the human race. They all piled into the train when a chemical introduced to the atmosphere to deal with global warming goes horribly wrong. It freezes the planet instead. That was only 17 years ago, a single generation. But the train has already evolved into a very twisted culture of poor, starving people at the back of the train and rich, well fed & clothed people at the front of the train. In the middle cars are most of the support structure, including water filtration, power, massive aquariums and food preparation. Every couple of years the poor rise up and try to get to the head of the train -- they always fail. As Curtis (Chris Evans, definitely not playing Captain America) has grown into a man, he has been formulating a plan to get further than any other rebellion. Enter the viewer.

This movie is incredibly well done, both at connecting to American audiences with their tropes and characterizations, as well as being true to South Korean cinema, much like The Host did as a monster movie. But it also wants to be a concept film, like those we expect from Terry Gilliam or the Wachowskis.  But I couldn't quite get past the conceit that these people are fighting for humanity. Ummm, if this train holds all remaining human beings, then STOP KILLING EACH OTHER. It might be reaching for a Noah connection, striving to say that the only way for the human race to survive is to start over, but as we well know, that only leads to inbreeding. Still, the movie looks good and flows well and I will definitely be seeing it in the cinema, should it ever appear in original format.