For a while there, it looked as though South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho's "Snowpiercer" would never get an official English-language release at all. Late last year, it emerged that Bong's ambitious science fiction film had been picked up for release in English-speaking countries by The Weinstein Company. When the Weinsteins, true to form, voiced their desire to produce a shorter version of "Snowpiercer", the director understandably dug his heels in and refused to budge.
For several months, "Snowpiercer" hung in limbo, even as its release in territories like South Korea and France saw great financial returns and rave reviews. But in February this year, it was announced that "Snowpiercer" would be coming out after all. Sadly, it doesn't currently look as though Bong's film is going to get much of a release in America - the most recent reports suggest a limited run in a handful of theatres from the 27th June - and its release date hasn't even been announced in the UK yet.
For those anxious to see "Snowpiercer", we'd strongly recommend importing the version currently available on disc in France. The only sticking point is that its handful of scenes in Korean are subtitled into French, making them impossible to follow if you're unfamiliar with the language. But if you do know a smattering of French, then it's the perfect way of seeing what is a fabulous sci-fi film.
Whether you choose to import the disc or wait until it gets an official release, here are 10 (
Chris Evans is on career-best form
He may be best known for playing the earnest superhero Captain America these days, but Chris Evans has repeatedly proven his worth as a dramatic actor in a range of smaller films. "Snowpiercer" is the perfect showcase for his talent, and he's on magnificent form here. He plays Curtis Everett, who becomes the reluctant leader of the lower classes when plans for a revolution begin to formulate.
Where Marvel movies commonly require Evans to put on a larger-than-life persona, "Snowpiercer" allows him to head in the opposite direction: his hero is quiet and self-contained, and many of the film's most effective moments involve him watching the movements of his captors, waiting and calculating. A last-act monologue from Evans is a particularly powerful scene, and explains so much about his character's attitude and motivation. If there's any justice, other directors will take note of just how magnetic the actor is in this sequence alone.
Tilda Swinton is equally good as one of the central antagonists
An actress with a seemingly fearless approach to her craft, Tilda Swinton is one of the highlights of "Snowpiercer". She plays Minister Mason, a sublime comic creation: the spokesperson for the upper classes, she appears once in a while to give the proletarians long lectures on obedience and their rightful place in the lower order of things, all from behind an absurd set of dentures and an amusingly geometric haircut. Such a cartoonish performance might seem like a miscalculation on paper, yet it works sublimely in the film itself. "Snowpiercer" is an extremely violent and harsh film in places, and the humour acts as a welcome counterbalance.
It credits its audience with intelligence
Having set its scene with little more than a couple of establishing shots and a caption or two, "Snowpiercer" throws us into the meat of its story, and lets its audience fill in the blanks along the way. At no point does the film pause for tedious exposition, which is refreshing for what feels like a big, mainstream, sci-fi blockbuster. The approach is brilliantly judged: as the uprising begins and Curtis' revolutionists begin advancing through the train, we share their sense of discovery.
As they learn more and more about what lies ahead of them in each carriage, so do we. It's slightly terrifying that The Weinstein Company was once set on re-editing "Snowpiercer" and adding explanatory narration over the top of its remains; that sense of discovery would surely have vanished in the process.
It's often visually stunning
Bong Joon-Ho's influences can be seen quite readily in "Snowpiercer". The dark fantasies of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Terry Gilliam have clearly left their mark (the latter openly paid homage to in John Hurt's character), and "Snowpiercer" contains their eccentricity and oblique humour. But there are also references to "The Shining", "Battleship Potemkin", and other classics of Russian cinema, and even Ken Levine's videogame, "BioShock". It's a rich stew of visual ideas, to be sure, but they all coalesce into something that looks and feels startlingly new: we won't spoil what happens later in the film, but the contrast between the dingy squalor of the rearmost carriages and those further in front is striking and thrilling to see unfold on the screen.
It's thought provoking and remains true to its own bleak vision
Where so many science fiction films conjure up a believable sci-fi world, only to throw it away for something more generic in the second half - the interesting but flawed "The Purge" immediately springs to mind - "Snowpiercer" continues to expand and interrogate its own ideas right to the very end. "Snowpiercer" begins as a sci-fi dystopia in the tradition of novels like "We" and "Nineteen Eighty-Four", but ultimately expands beyond the familiar themes of top-down control and oppression, and into more fundamental territory: humankind's seemingly inescapable capacity for violence, cruelty, and selfishness.
Bong Joon-Ho never shrinks away from these bleak underlying themes, and while they're dressed up in the clothes of a blackly comic satire or a pulse-pounding action film, they remain in place from beginning to end. These three strands have formed the basis of some of the very best genre works in the past, from Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" to Paul Verhoeven's "RoboCop", and they're what makes "Snowpiercer" such an immensely satisfying, unforgettable science fiction film.
The rest of the reasons can be read at the ( SOURCE )
Mark your calendars, ONTD: "Snowpiercer" will be coming for you on June 27!
A deliciously bearded and sexy Chris Evans will be waiting for you... ;)