Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “Snowpiercer”
I have missed you! I have missed this humble blog! And I have also missed watching movies that just cry out for your attention! But I can address these issues to some degree this evening! It’s all thanks to Snowpiercer.
This movie is the best sort of bonkers, Frank. Directed by Bong Joon-ho, a Korean director who also made the really delightful The Host (starring Doona Bae from Cloud Atlas!), it’s pretty easy to distill to its core plotline: It’s the apocalypse and every human still alive now lives on a train.
However, Snowpiecer is also so much more than that. What happens in it? Oh, so much stuff. SO MUCH STUFF. I really don’t want to spoil it for you. But there are a few things YOU NEED TO KNOW.
LIke I said, apocalypse (this one being a Day After Tomorrow-esque ice freeze), humanity’s remnants stuck on train that zooms around the world. Life is pretty not great for Chris Evans-with-a-beard and his best buddy Billy Elliott (okay, Jamie Bell is developing into a pretty solid performer — he’s just one more good role away from no longer being referred to by that one movie he made when he was 13), as they live in the back of the train.
They have a plan, though! What’s the plan? To revolt against the upper class and move to the front of the train. Standing in their way are an oppressive class regime, a lot of guns, and Tilda Swinton giving the most insane performance of her career (and remember, Frank, SHE STARRED IN ORLANDO). There’s a lot of stabbings and bashings that occur along the way. All on board the TRAIN, POWERED BY THE SACRED ENGINE.
A quick note about Chris Evans-with-a-beard? For some reason, to me he looks JUST like Ryan Reynolds-with-a-beard. Here, look:
There’s also Alison Pill, once again reminding us that she is fucking WASTED on The Newsroom and that every time Sorkin treats her character like garbage and gives her nothing to do he is committing the television equivalent of a WAR CRIME (I get pretty mad about Newsroom sometimes, Frank).
Anyhoo, Alison Pill pulls off an incredible bit of acting. “She’s the schoolteacher,” is what you say to someone who’s seen this movie. They will nod, laugh and grin. You will join them in this moment. It’ll be fun for the both of you.
Snowpiercer is notable for how it blends some relatively predictable elements (Frank, you are savvy enough not to get attached to Billy Elliott, but for those who lack your acumen for sniffing out sacrificial characters, let me warn you NOT TO GET ATTACHED TO BILLY ELLIOTT) with a few pretty intense revelations. Frank, Chris Evans has a pretty amazing monologue towards the end of this movie, about what he had to do to survive the early days of the train. It makes you appreciate him as an actor on a whole new level, especially when you consider that timing-wise, he probably shot that scene dangerously close to when he shot this:
(That’s why his hand is where it is, Frank. He’s hiding the post-Avengers beard he grew for this movie and also The Iceman. So delightful.)
By the way, Snowpiecer is really weird to watch in a classy theater, because you may find yourself sitting next to some 50-something gentleman who seems really annoyed by the fact that you laughed at Chris Evans tripping over a fish. But c’mon, guy — CHRIS EVANS TRIPPED OVER A FISH. It’s a key point of that action scene! How did YOU not laugh at it? How did this whole theater not dissolve into giggles?
Well, probably because that moment was part of a pretty violent sequence; moments later, dudes are being hit with pick-axes and the like. Snowpiercer, like Bong’s The Host, is notable for not just being very good, but daring to blend comedy and horror in a really unconventional way. It’s like Bong has never even been to a video store! He has no idea that Americans like their movies in clear-cut categories!
This is why Bong is such an interesting director, as he seems fascinated by American genres, but bored by the concept of only tackling one at a time. It’s also why there were a ton of production battles that occurred after this film was acquired by the Weinstein Company, and they wanted to cut it down into basically a summer action movie.
Fortunately, for once the Weinsteins didn’t dramatically alter the film! Which is a good thing! It’s a little long, and incredibly weird, but also so very watchable and full of delightful details. It’s a movie that demands you hop on board, go along for the ride. Making it all the more apt that it all takes place on a train.