TWC Radius, the VOD arm of The Weinstein Company, is releasing the snowbound apocalyptic tale in theaters on June 27th in New York and L.A. and presumably it’ll be out on VOD that same weekend. The movie that stars the international cast of Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, Alison Pill, Ed Harris, Ewen Bremner, Korean actors Song Kang-Ho, Ko Ah-Sung and more, has been picked to open the L.A. Film Festival on June 11th, so the west coast will get the North American premiere slightly earlier than the Radius street date. The L.A. Film Festival runs from June 11-19. The full line-up will be announced May 6th.
FOLLOWING THE NERD FILM REVIEW: SNOWPIERCER
AD 2031: The passengers in the train are the only survivors on Earth; set in a future where a failed global-warming experiment kills off most life on the planet; the only mode of survival is being aboard the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe via a perpetual-motion engine. Unfortunately, a class system has evolved from the front to the back of the carriages.
Bong Joon-Ho’s American debut was always going to be an interesting spectacle, both in terms of the graphic novel he was taking the source material from (Le Transperceneige), and from the point of view of how well his particularly niched, culturally embedded South Korean directorial style would transfer to a western audience. Renowned for juxtaposing odd moments of (almost) slapstick humour, and dichotomously transitioning these moments with heavily serious natured themes, there is an accustomed need to comprehend the balance between these — sometimes polar-opposite – and randomly placed emotional aspects for the uninitiated. It is a great touch that demands finesse, but it is far more culturally specific to Joon-Ho’s home turf. This is very evident in Bong Joon-Ho’s more serious natured and critically acclaimed films such as Memories Of Murder and his monster movie The Host (both starring the amazing Song Kang-Ho).
So, to cut a long story short–randomly placed slapstick, and a two-hour film might just be too long for somebody who is used to sitting watching a fast paced ninety-minute film. Consequently,
Aside from all the political gumph in the background, the film is a triumphant success with beautiful direction and meticulously planned out shots. Boon Joon-Ho has perfected every scene; and there are some remarkably ambivalent segments that mix both visceral brutality and beautiful melancholy. One tableau in particular almost matches Park Chan-Wook’s now classic corridor scene in Oldboy in terms of the skillful execution and the intensely choreographed weaponry assault. Needless to say, the film looks great and the cinematography is mesmerisingly captive, going from the grim of the rear carriages to the gradual iridescent vibrancy of the front carriages, as they are explored one-by-one.
Topically, Bong Joon-Ho offers a microcosmic look at the hierarchical class system that prevails in today’s society. Each carriage has an allegorical purpose from the rear of the train to the front; and from start to end what is offered is the small-scale depiction of society from its most basic proletariat level, to the bourgeoisie, right up to the powerful elite; the capitalists if you will; consecutively in that order. Thusly, Bong Joon-Ho takes the viewer on a journey of incrementing injustices, from the simple beginnings of life in terms of the evolution of civilization, science, education, quality of life – to the downfall of living in excess, partaking in needless hedonism as a byproduct of boredom from having it all, leading to squandering extravagance – to the eventual expiration of any morale or purpose of being. The film covers the ubiquitous social stratification that characteristically defines the individual members that comprise ‘that’ society; organising people by levels, or strata, on a variety of dimensions and essentially synonymising these significations cleverly within each of the carriages on the Snowpiercer.
The ensemble cast is simply outstanding with John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Ewen Bremner, Ed Harris, and Octavia Spencer all playing integral roles with absolute conviction. However, the most important characters in the film steal the show with Song Kang-Ho (who never fails to impress), Ko Ah-Sung, and Chris Evans all exceptional in their roles. Evans has really upped his game in the acting department and there are some great moments between him and Song Kang-Ho in which some of the most pivotal parts in the film are explored with their shared dialogue.
Political and economic systems come and go, races are socially constructed and deconstructed, empires rise and fall, cultural traditions evolve and change; but the common factor through all of these myriad expressions of human social organisation is socio-economic class. This cinematic experience allows the viewer to look at – and question – the cultural and social phenomena of the class system. To distill those problems which have constantly plagued civilisations for thousands of years. Some might debate the conclusion of the film, which is indicative of the need to re-watch, pay closer attention and perhaps think of it as more of a means to an end, rather than an end to a means. A fantastic, beautifully directed and clever science fiction movie with a great ensemble cast. Not be missed!
RATING: 5 out of 5 Nerds