Combustible Celluloid
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With: Chris Evans, Song Kang-ho, Ed Harris, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, Ewen Bremner, Ko Ah-sung, Alison Pill, Luke Pasqualino, Vlad Ivanov, Adnan Haskovic, Emma Levie, Steve Park
Written by: Bong Joon-ho, Kelly Masterson, based on the comic by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand, Jean-Marc Rochette
Directed by: Bong Joon-ho
MPAA Rating: R for violence, language and drug content
Language: English, Korean, with English subtitles
Running Time: 126
Date: 06/27/2014

Snowpiercer (2014)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Rail Fire

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

One of the world's most talented filmmakers, Korean director Bong Joon-ho (Memories of Murder, The Host, Mother) has proven that he can handle strong themes in varied material, but with confident pacing and impressive visuals. Snowpiercer is a big film with a large cast, but Bong brilliantly juggles fights, characters, and ideas -- including a savvy use of food -- and fits it all succinctly within his amazing visual design and scope.

In 2031, after an attempt to quell global warming, the earth has become a frozen wasteland, and the only survivors are on board a spectacular, self-sustaining train that speeds continuously around the globe. The denizens of the rear cars are tired of being treated poorly, and talk of a revolution begins stirring. Curtis (Chris Evans) is the natural choice to lead. They'll need the help of Namgoong (Song Kang-ho) to break through the locked doors, and they'll need an extra amount of courage, strength, and cleverness to deal with the hazards and pitfalls that await, and increase, at each level. No one has ever made it to the engine before, and Curtis could be the first, though this time the fate of all humanity hangs in the balance.

This dystopian future could have been heavy-handed, but instead it's balanced with equal amounts intelligence and hope. And, of course, filming in a long, thin corridor could have been repetitive, but the images are constantly striking and surprising. Bong does not neglect his cast, either. Song Kang-ho and Ko Ah-sung return from The Host, playing father and daughter once again, Chris Evans gives one of his finest performances, and Ed Harris is especially memorable.

All in all, this is an exceptional summer sci-fi, worth far more than just its visual effects. It's the best post-apocalyptic movie I've seen in ages.

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