Brief Reviews: Snowpiercer

July 5th, 2014, 10pm

If you’ve considered seeing Snowpiercer, prepare to be hit upside the head with obvious metaphor, but in a very beautiful way. In fact, so beautiful that you might not even mind being hit upside the head. It really depends on how beautiful you find it.

Whenever I talk about Snowpiercer, most people either look confused or glaze over. After all, this movie has a history prior to its U.S. theatrical release this summer. Technically, the movie came out over a year ago, but was denied U.S. distribution when the director (Bong Joon-ho) and distributor (the Weinstein Company…) couldn’t come to an agreement on proposed cuts to the film. In some ways, I’m glad that the director stuck to his guns on keeping the full-length movie, but I’m also sad that it took an extra year to come out, and at the expense of the Weinstein Company being willing to do a wide-scale release with a real marketing strategy. They crippled the movie in the biggest market in the world as punishment for the fact that they weren’t allowed to cut out 20 minutes because “American audiences won’t sit through long movies.” Yes, my friends, we will. We’ve gladly swallowed five behemoth Peter Jackson movies; we will sit through any length movie that’s good, and even some movies that aren’t.

When you sit down to watch Snowpiercer, you’re seeing it as the director intended, which is always a good thing. If you’re like me, the heavy-handed use of metaphor to make a thinly-veiled critique of class inequality isn’t a bitter pill because A) the movie unfolds with a distinctly Korean pace, and B) the movie is beautifully displayed on the big screen. I’ve always been a fan of V for Vendetta-esque depictions of violence, so I found the intensity of the film to be tolerable, and I love that I could clearly feel the way Oldboy opened the doors for a movie like this to come to American audiences (the original version, mind you, not that remake I skipped seeing last autumn). This doesn’t feel like an American movie, and that’s a fresh change of pace. Instead, the use of extremely well-known English and American actors allows the audience to feel familiar with the characters without losing sight of the films inherent foreignness.

This, more than many movies I see, is an unconventional one to recommend. I don’t expect Snowpiercer to blow it away at the box office or have mass appeal—it’s not the kind of movie most people would enjoy (simply because of the genre and graphic nature of the film), and it’s not going to get a wide enough release to really cause any word-of-mouth buzz. That’s okay. Those of you reading this with an affinity for film will seek the movie out, and those of you without wouldn’t enjoy it anyway.

Mike, David Wade, Christine and Paul said thanks.

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Valerie Stimac

Constraints create lots of great things, diamonds and creativity among them.

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