movies you should watch: snowpiercer

So, yesterday it was hot. Disgustingly hot. Nightmarishly hot. Okay, it was around 90 degrees, but if you only have A/C in one room of your apartment, that’s kind of a nightmare. It was so gross out that I left my door open while I slept, and Sophie didn’t come and sleep with me. Bad times, man.

Anyway, Roommate and I decided to try and beat the heat for a little while by going to see a movie. The pickings were kind of slim–this time of year is made for tentpole movies, not Oscarbait, and you all know where my heart truly lies–but after some hemming and hawing, we decided on Snowpiercer. One of our friends had seen it recently, and I’d been curious about it ever since we got the graphic novel in at work.

Turns out, Snowpiercer is awesome.

Now, when I say it’s based on a graphic novel, don’t get visions of DC and Marvel in your head. This one is a French graphic novel first published in the 80s. After the world has frozen over due to mankind’s meddling, the only people left on Earth live on a train making endless circuits around the world–it’s too cold to actually get off. At the head of the train, life goes on like usual, but people who live in the tail end of the train are miserable and destitute.

Curtis has lived in the tail end of the train since the world ended, but he doesn’t want to stay there anymore. He thinks that, if they can make it all the way up to the train’s engine, they can change things. Maybe their meals won’t have to consist of wobbly, vile-tasting protein blocks; maybe they’ll have access to all the basic necessities they’ve been denied for 18 years. The head of the train ends up forcing his hand when they take away a pair of children to places unknown, and soon the tail of the train is pushing its way forward to the head. They’re helped along by a former prisoner and drug addict whose willingness to open the gates between the cars might have more purpose than getting his next hit.

This is the movie The Hunger Games wishes it was. And to show that I’m not just continuing my lifelong hate-on of The Hunger Games and every lazy piece of writing and worldbuilding it stands for (but consider this your daily reminder that THG is shit and Katniss is not a feminist heroine), I’ll say this as well: I think it’s the movie Bioshock Infinite thinks it is. The way this world is constructed, the way we’re slowly drawn into life on the train? Not to mention the entire school scene? Eat your heart out, Ken Levine. The storyline and unflinching willingness to draw blood where blood is needed? Suzanne Collins wishes she could write like this.

Snowpiercer is a dark, violent film (though thankfully, there’s very little blood and gore) about the nature of revolution and the importance of trying to right wrongs. There are enough twists that I don’t want to spoil things for you by talking about all the stuff Roommate and I did on the way home from the movie theater, but trust me that it’s a great film with some big ideas to play with. And if big ideas aren’t enough, it’s also really good just as an action movie. The fight scenes are well-choreographed, the tension is real, and the humor–and there’s a surprising amount of humor!–is funny enough that there was laughter in the theater even when the jokes were gallows-dark.

Oh, and the casting is pretty amazeballs.  Tilda Swinton is there!  So is John Hurt!  Octavia Butler!  And also the guy who played the God character in The Truman Show?  IDK, lots of great actors.  And I found myself surprisingly moved by Chris Evans, who plays Curtis.  His monologue at the end of the film had one kind of clunky line, but mostly, it was great to watch.

If you need to get out of a sweltering summer day, consider heading out to Snowpiercer. It’s hard to find a better escape than a dystopian society hurtling through a new Ice Age. 😀


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