Wednesday, April 16, 2014

SNOWPIERCER Offers A Smart, Styled, and Detailed Dystopian Theme that Could be Better

Snowpiercer

Imagine an earth fully covered by snow and ice. Imagine an earth so cold that no living creatures can live outside so they look for shelters to live. That would be the earth the story of SNOWPIERCER takes place. Perhaps it would be hard for me to mention two or three other movies about dystopia and surviving, but I am sure I already knew the big line of SNOWPIERCER before actually watching it because, beside of its outstanding production design, costume design, and cinematography (and some acting!), there is nothing fresher that Bong Joon-ho offers in his debut in Hollywood.

NOTE: some parts of this review may contain clues about the story of the film. Although I don’t consider them a spoiler, you who prefer knowing very little about the film before watching it are suggested to read this review only after watching it.

SNOWPIERCER, adapted from French graphic novel “Le Transperceneige” written by Jacque Lob, Benjamin Legrand, and Jean-Marc Rochette, tells a story of a damaged earth. An experiment to stop global warming goes wrong, and that makes earth’s temperature decreases so significantly that not even a piece of the earth surface isn’t covered by snow and ice. However, there is this long train containing the only human left in the planet. As the train with its perpetual-motion engine goes around the world as the only shelter, social classes are built within the train and crashes in between them are going to happen.

So this train is a very long one, with numerous carts from head to tail. I wondered it would be a challenge for the production designer—especially set designer—to make different looks for different carts. There are more than just ghetto-like carts that come to a surprise as the movie reveals carts in the head section. It is truly an achieving part of the film, and just by itself SNOWPIERCER has shown that it will offer a promising difference.

Snowpiercer

Costume and makeup department are also a thumb-up. What they have done to Tilda Swinton, for example, proved that I was not simply watching another dystopian movie. Bong Joon-ho had a solid production team that treated even the details, so the sense of social-class separation feels real and bold. Don’t let me start with cinematography: lighting and camera play in the inter-social-class fight scene was simply amazing.

It’s just, well, I think the script itself was a bit underwritten. SNOWPIERCER has a great but brief description about the situation (and it’s good) but when it comes to talk about the rebellion and the surviving part, I didn’t see anything new. Story details like the protein blocks, the rebellion tactic, and that red-letter in capsules are helpful and neat, but on the surface everything looks plain. How the plot tries to hide who Mr. Wilford actually is was not even as interesting, because there is not enough clues to be converted to any plot turns either in the middle or in the ending.

Snowpiercer

But it’s okay to appreciate the details. Just like Park Chan-wook’s STOKER where style was so much over the film’s substance, you can view SNOWPIERCER the same way. (P.S: Park chan-wook is the producer of SNOWPIERCER). As long as you can enjoy the style, SNOWPIERCER will not disappoint you that much. No great analogies or ironies could be taken from this survival and social-class separation themes (I think THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE did a better job in this case), but it won’t be too hurtful either.

It feels like I am insisting in telling you that, although the story didn’t amuse me 100%, you can still enjoy the film, not only because of the technical department, but also the acting department. Standing ovation for the great Tilda Swinton who maximized her total makeup and costume. Lucky that she has a good portion of screen time in which she perfectly stole every second. Alison Pill in the middle part of the film also gives a fresh air: something I urgently needed after that narrowing-to-boredom part where the movie talks about the lower class since, well, there is nothing you can take in from the struggling or suffering look of the lower class members.

Snowpiercer

I think this is the kind of movie you would enjoy more and more if you keep paying attention to the details. There are great amounts of meticulous stuffs you would probably discuss after the film ends, and there are even greater amounts of visual artistry that ensure you you’re not watching another so-so dystopian movie. SNOWPIERCER is smart, thrilling, and gorgeous at the same time; although I won’t say that it will be as unforgettable as I expected. Nicely done, but could be better.



Snowpiercer3.5 out of 5 stars

 ▲  Detailed set decoration and costume design, nice camera and lighting play, Tilda Swinton
 ▼  Unsurprising key character reveal, plot trapped in similar dystopian-survival story

SNOWPIERCER | COUNTRY USA YEAR 2013 RATING Rated R for violence, language, and drug content RUNTIME 126 min GENRE Action, Drama, Sci-Fi CAST Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Octavia Spencer WRITER Bong Joon-ho (screenplay & screen story); Kelly Masterson (screenplay); Jacque Lob, Benjamin Legrand, & Jean-Marc Rochette (based on the graphic novel by) DIRECTOR Bong Joon-ho MORE INFO




7 comments:

  1. I'm agree with you, it could be better. But it's still a good movie :D

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    1. Yeah, absolutely. I just expected that there is something new from this film.

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  2. Someone said that Tilda Swinton played two characters in this movie, but I'm not really sure....

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    1. Didn't notice it until I read this: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1706620/trivia?item=tr1999740

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  3. The production design is nothing but genius. Can you imagine how to put things in the interiors of those curvy train? Just great.
    And Mason, as well... we got Ms. Chameleon there.

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    1. At first I was not that amazed by those ghetto-like sets until they reveal the rest of the carts. Great production design.

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