“Snowpiercer“(2013), directed by the Korean master Bong Joon-ho (of “Mother” fame) is a sci-fi dystopia in the year 2031, after a failed climate-change experiment seventeen years before has frozen all of Earth and wiped out all life, except for the survivors on a bullet train–Snowpiercer– traveling across the globe in a self-contained ecosystem. The train is class-structured with the poorest in the back suffering like slaves under grotesque conditions and the 1 % in the front with every luxury imaginable, epitomized by spa pools, floor-to-ceiling aquariums, and sushi bars. Curtis (Chris Evans from “Captain America”), a passenger who is in the back of the train, wants social change and a wise old man named Gilliam (John Hurt) helps him. Curtis’s friend, Edgar (Jamie Bell), and a mother (Octavia Spencer) of a child seized from her also are determined to change their destiny.
The scene-stealer is Tilda Swinton, virtually unrecognizable as the spokesperson for the privileged ruling class. Every shot she is in perks up this two-hour film that, although carefully crafted and loaded with special effects, has a story that does not arc properly, dragging in plot points until another over-the-top fight scene tries to grab the audience’s attention.
“Snowpiercer” is Korean director, Joon-ho Bong’s first English-language film with a combination of A-list Korean actors and exceptional American ones. I am not the right demographic for this film. It is a thriller for the audience who loves “300” (mainly under-30 males) with long fight scenes and special effects that chew up any story or semblance of one. If you want to see a masterpiece by Bong, rent “Mother”and don’t get on this train.