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snowpiercer-movie-poster

I’m late to the cult of Snowpiercer, which had a brief appearance in theaters three years ago, but has had a much longer life in online chat rooms. It’s not hard to see why. Like The Matrix and The Hunger Games, movies with which it shares both aesthetic and thematic qualities, Snowpiercer asks Big Questions while serving up stylish and riveting action. The plot is more metaphor than actual story: in the near future, efforts to halt global warming have plunged the world into a deep freeze. All life is extinct, save the passengers on super train that circles the globe once a year. Like the world of the Hunger Games, society is divided between the haves, who live in decadent luxury at the front of the train; and the have-nots, the grimy rabble packed into the rear of the train, subsisting on a diet of protein Jello. The absurdity of the situation is more or less addressed as the movie unfolds and a band of rebels, led by the reluctant, brooding Curtis Everett (surprisingly effective in a non-Captain America role), battles their way car-by-car to the front of the train to seek retribution, or at least redistribution. Despite these narrow confines of story and setting, Snowpiercer succeeds through the vivid, crisp direction of Korea’s Bong Joon Ho, and has enough wrinkles to keep it interesting. The movie’s climax, a confrontation between Everett and the elegant Ed Harris as the train’s creator and engineer, does lurch into some tedious philosophical territory but that’s a failure only of Snowpiercer‘s ambition. The strong cast also features Tilda Swinton as a bizarrely accented enforcer of the social order, and John Hurt as a decrepit Obi Wan Kenobi guiding the rebellion.

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