Sci-fi is very similar to comedy in that it disarms the audience and allows, through a fanciful and outlandish story, the creators to highlight some taboo truth or impolite reality. The subject matter becomes more palatable to the masses, subversively working its way into the consciousness. And it is here we find Snowpiercer.
Just. Damn. One of the best movies of 2014. It’s raw, dirty, and completely uncompromising. With the subtlety of a shark attack, Snowpiercer has an agenda that it is dead set on shoving down your throat for 2 solid hours. But that agenda is shoved very, very well. However, even if we ignore the messaging, it is still a damn good film: the acting is good, the action is great, the twists and turns do surprise, and we are connected to the characters early on. Also, the stakes are well defined and are on par for what they need to be. This is a must see.
The Deep Dive (Spoilers)
And you thought the Red Line was bad?!?
Set in the not-to-distant future, Snowpiercer exists in an apocalyptic world where the earth has completely frozen over. The last remaining humans on earth, in order to escape the cold, have boarded a high speed, never stopping train that they live on permanently. This train has been separate by class: the lower class in the very back, the higher classes closer to the front, and the trains conductor in the very front. The film follows a rebellion led by the 2010’s action star of choice Chris Evans (huh, who knew Captain America could do class warfare?) , whose ultimate goal is to reach the front and, not only take his lower class people to the front with him, but also find out why the hell the system was made like this in the first place.
The movies pacing is brilliant. The scenes? Gorgeous. Violence is throughout, but not gory. On a strictly Sci-fi/action rebellion level, it is extremely effective and deserves heeps of praise just for that. However, this not what makes it great…
Here’s the pitch: The French Revolution…on a freakin’ train man!!!!! (Insert surfer guy accent here)
Its greatness comes as an allegory for class struggle. Now whether you believe in it or not, one cannot deny that it effectively places on the screen the writer’s and director’s vision of our world. Their vision? Everyone has a place in society and it is just about impossible to get out. Those at the lower portion eat poorly, are punished brutally for ever stepping outside the lines, and are kept at a manageable population density through starvation, manipulation, and outright conspiracy. Those at the higher level are born into that world and stay there. All classes are taught (through serious propaganda) to respect and fear the train conductor (insert your favorite authoritarian figure/government entity here), who provides order and structure for all those living within this society. Songs are sung to him, his name is said reverentially. In the end Chris Evans makes it to the front, but the victory is bitter sweet because 1) it appears that it was the train conductor’s ultimate goal that Chris reach the front (so that the conductor can retire and Chris can take over), and 2) because Chris realizes, if only for a few moments, that the train conductor has a point. This system is necessary because of the horrors that man is capable of. Chris almost accepts this, until he sees that certain things cannot be allowed in the name of order.
Over all, the best sci-fi movie of the year and one of the best movies of 2014. SEE IT NOW!!!!