Archive: Snowpiercer (2013) A Review

After the crazy amount of praise received by Parasite recently, I thought I would give Bong Joon Ho’s first English Language movie a go.  And was not altogether disappointed by what I saw.

Certificate: 15

Director: Bong Joon Ho

Screenwriter: Bong Joon Ho (screenplay), Kelly Masterson

Starring: Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton

Genre: Drama, Sci Fi

Runtime: 126 Minutes

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

This film works on a very simple premise, highlighted by the kids in the school scene around halfway through the film.  It is claustrophobic and excellently presented with the limited space and cast that the story allows for.  The ending took me by surprise, and that doesn’t happen very often anymore.  So it gets major props for that.

The world is frozen.  To prevent global warming an artificial cooling agent was released into the earth’s atmosphere.  Instead however it lowered the earths temperature to freezing temperatures and it became inhabitable.  Railway tycoon Mr Wilford built a train, able to withstand the extreme weather, and the only people left alive on earth are currently on this train.  Circling the planet endlessly on a worldwide track.  On board the train a new class system evolves, but the people in the back of the train, the ‘tail section’ enough is enough, they are going to revolt.

So much of this film makes you cringe.  The reveal of what is put in the ‘protein blocks’ that the tail section eats, Chris Evans delivers an amazing piece of dialogue, filling everyone in on what early life was like in the tail section of the train, the gratuitous violence the guards use.  It all amounts to really making you feel the desperation and despair of those passengers forced to live in the tail end of the train.  And that is the emotion that drives the entire story.

There is also a clever use of colour to separate the classes as well, similarly to what is done in films like ‘The Hunger Games’.  The tail section is all dark and drab colours.  A lot of greys and browns.  But those in the Front section of the trains have lavish clothes, luxury fabrics.  This is no better represented then when Claude comes into the tail section to take some of the children from the tail section, wearing a bright yellow coat.  You know from the second she arrives that she isn’t one of them.  A clever way of showing a class difference without being overly obvious.

I do wish they had given us more back story to what happened in the lead up to the new Ice Age.  There are some faint news reports playing during the opening credits that give you a little back story and a screen of text or two, but I wanted more.  How did Wilford know he would need the train?  Did the freeze happen gradually or all at once? How did people get their tickets?  A lot of questions left unanswered.


I did not imagine the film ending the way it did.  I knew obviously Curtis (Chris Evans) was going to make it to the engine, but that was as far as I got. The big reveal takes the form of a long period of dialogue, and you will be gasping the entire time.  And there is a second there where you think Curtis is going to turn his back on everyone and take the offer he is presented.  But deep down we all knew he would do the right thing right??

A lot better than the synopsis makes it sound.  Its shocking and at times emotional but does have some great moments of humour.

Snowpiercer is currently available to watch on Amazon Prime UK now

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