Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “Snowpiercer”

Dear Frank,

snowpiercer_posterI 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:


Maybe I’m just racist against extremely attractive white guys. I dunno. But he’s really good in this! I like Chris Evans 100 percent. Even if his pants stay on the entire time.

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.


About Liz Shannon Miller

Liz Shannon Miller is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor, and has been talking about television on the Internet since the very beginnings of the Internet. She is currently Senior TV Editor at Collider, and her work has also been published by the New York Times, Vulture, Variety, the AV Club, the Hollywood Reporter, IGN, The Verge, and Thought Catalog. She is also a produced playwright, a host of podcasts, and a repository of "X-Files" trivia.

Posted on June 30, 2014, in Movies, Some Spoilers and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I had a professor who, despite being white himself, had a very hard time distinguishing one handsome white guy from another. He was really, really confused during The Departed….

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