Posted by: Chris Evans Online

SNOWPIERCER continues to wrack up the good reviews. This one is particularly a good one. Enjoy.

Genevieve Spoils Everything: And Thanks for All the Fish

By Genevieve Valentine

At a key moment in Snowpiercer, Chris Evans slips on a fish. It’s important.

The plot of Snowpiercer is unabashedly allegorical: In the wake of a last-ditch strike against global warming, the population has diminished to the occupants of a single train in which the Haves enjoy atriums and fine dining up front while Have-Nots in the windowless rear cars eat protein blocks delivered by armed guard. And of the 20 minutes that Harvey Weinstein wanted Bong Joon-ho to cut in order to get a wide release for American audiences, the fish would probably have been on the chopping block. Coming in the middle of a vicious, bloody fight scene that takes a toll on their numbers, it’s a strikingly slapstick beat—if not comical, then certainly absurd—that isn’t necessary to put Evans’ Curtis in peril. (In a train where movement’s possible in only one direction, peril can be safely assumed pretty much from minute one.) And it’s not a moment that has much bearing on anything else. It’s just a bookend to the fish’s first appearance—an even more surreal moment, as one of the train-car thugs slices the fish open and passes it to his fellows, each of whom dip their weapons in its blood. It would, in theory, be easy enough to cut.

But the great strength of Snowpiercer is the ways in which details build meanings within the framework of the fable, often lending subtlety to a movie whose premise isn’t at all subtle. The film could have been merely a taut spectacle of violence as the downtrodden folk of the tail section battle their way forward—The Warriors at 200 miles per hour. Instead, the spectacle itself is the violence. The resistance fighters turn out to be far more prepared for the armed guards that descend on them than they are for a sauna. In the context of Snowpiercer’s class warfare and increasingly fantastic settings the closer they get to the engine, soldiers slicing a fish open is a symbol not just of impending battle, but a revelation of unimaginable waste that suggests the true resources of the front section without needing a word about greater numbers.

Fish, as it happens, become a sticking point for Curtis. Though he begins as a standard reluctant hero, his uneasy relationship with food forms the backbone of a more interesting characterization. Scarcity within the train turns every meal into a competition, and though his goal of making it to the engine is the rallying point he uses to organize the resistance in the tail section, it’s the protein blocks that end up being his tipping point. During their journey, he gapes at the aquarium around them, unable to believe the sushi restaurant attached to it. The sushi gets eyed as if it’s poisonous, and down the bar, he hands out punishment via a protein bar foisted on front-section toady Mason (Tilda Swinton). The unspoken uneasiness Curtis carries with him offers an undercurrent of dread beneath the usual mortal danger. It’s a reflection of a problem that eventually reveals their unwinnable war: The existing system can’t sustain a more equal situation. Children in the schoolroom car blurt factoids about the limitations of the train with the enthusiasm of those who know they’ll rule, and the schoolteacher (an outstanding Alison Pill) conducts the train’s propaganda anthem with terrifying fervor, and Curtis realizes the unanimity of what they’re up against. Then they hand out eggs, because this train moves in only one direction, and every symbol moves forward with them.

The specter of this new generation lingers as the resistance journeys ever farther toward the front to an ecosystem that can’t, and won’t, sustain them. The occasionally-wicked tonal shifts also follow (if a sketch artist taking a “snapshot” of the questing group doesn’t make you smile, just wait for Swinton to say something), but these, too, are grace notes in a world they know can’t hold them. It’s Curtis’ lot to realize this first. It’s the fish’s job to prove it to him.


Posted by: Chris Evans Online

An excellent review for SNOWPIERCER from Digitalspy. Love this. Comparing it to Blade Runner just makes my day.

Snowpiercer review: A new Blade Runner? – Edinburgh Film Festival 2014

By Ben Rawson-Jones
Saturday, Jun 21 2014, 2:05pm EDT

Director: Joon-ho Bong; Screenwriters: Joon-ho Bong, Kelly Masterson; Starring: Chris Evans, Kang-ho Song, Jamie Bell, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Luke Pasqualino, Octavia Spencer, Ewen Bremner; Running time: 126 mins; Certificate: TBC

Echoing the dystopian brilliance of Blade Runner and Brazil and beset by remarkably similar studio wrangling over the final cut, Snowpiercer is an audacious, immersive and nightmarish masterpiece. The frankly bonkers concept of society encompassed on one train carrying the last vestiges of the human race is expertly executed with striking visuals, engaging performances and a satirical quality that recalls Terry Gilliam at his peak.

Based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, the extraordinary American-South Korean co-production unfolds on a train in which the poor occupants live in squalid, claustrophobic conditions. They live on crushed insects and acts of insurgency often result in limbs being hacked off by the authorities. That puts the rush hour chaos on London Underground into some perspective.

The hi-tech locomotive travels around an Earth ravaged by an Ice Age without ever stopping, containing a microcosm of society in which the underprivileged lurk in the back carriages, persistently oppressed and culled by Tilda Swinton’s terrifying governor Mason, while the richer inhabitants live a life of luxury in the front carriages. Chris Evans’ defiant dissident Curtis, cajoled by John Hurt’s wizened and wise Gilliam (subtle namecheck) and helped by reluctant prisoner Namgoong (Song Kang-ho), unleashes a rebellion from the tail end that leads to brutal battles and staggering revelations as the rebels advance towards the train’s front engine in a bid to overthrow the deified ruler Wilford (Ed Harris).

Snowpiercer’s narrative themes are distinctly Orwellian, but its structure feels like a platform video game in which the participants progress from one suprise-laden level to the next. Another fascinating fusion takes place through a ‘future noir’ aesthetic that blends imagery that evokes the ghettos of World War II with advanced sci-fi technology. Not that conventions are entirely vanquished, for the movie is punctuated by gripping and visually poetic set pieces including a magnificently intense fight sequence that unravels through a subjective shot seen through night vision goggles.

Amidst the carnage and affecting themes, director Bong Joon-ho never forgets the importance of character and detail. So often, sci-fi action movies are too absorbed with rushing from one plot point to the next without ever spending time to capture those intimate moments of feeling that require no dialog. One simple glance between Curtis and fellow freedom fighter Edgar (Jamie Bell) during a blood-ravaged clash is captured by Joon-ho’s lens and provokes utter heartbreak at their horrific predicament.

The atrocious environment of life aboard the train is explored well by the screenplay, which culminates in a climactic revelation that pummels us in the gut. The performances from the impressive complement each other perfectly, particularly the contrast between Chris Evans’ tormented figure of few words but much courage and Tilda Swinton’s Thatcheresque antagonist, who delivers sneering lines like “Know your place” to the poor inhabitants in a Northern drawl that’s both amusing and terrifying.

Snowpiercer is a bold and brave film that demonstrates that blockbusters can simultaneously function as stunning spectacle and provocative art that makes us confront the mechanics of the society we’re all currently part of. The best science fiction may take place many years, centuries or millennia in the future, but it always makes us think about the now.