Blu-ray Review “Snowpiercer”

Starring: Chris Evans, Song Kang-ho, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, Ewen Bremner
Director: Bong Joon-ho
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: ANCHOR BAY
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Run Time: 126 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4.5 out of 5 stars

“Snowpiercer” is based on the French graphic novel “Le Transperceneige”. The film has a fantastic cast including Captain America himself, Chris Evans (“The Avengers”), Song Kang-ho (“The Host”), Tilda Swinton (“The Chronicles of Narnia”), Jamie Bell (“Jumper”), Octavia Spencer (“The Help”), Ewen Bremner (“Trainspotting”), John Hurt (“Hellboy”) and Ed Harris (“Apollo 13”). This film is a must see but is definitely not your typical sci-fi thriller. I love the look and feel of this film. It taken placed all on a train yet it has this much large scale to it. Joon-ho Bong is an amazing filmmaker and he did the same thing with his film “The Host”, which is equally awesome. If you are looking for something original and fresh, I highly recommend this!

Official Premise: It’s been 18 years since we froze the earth. The few remaining humans live on the Snowpiercer, a train on an infinite loop around the globe. For those at the front, it’s a lavish paradise of drugs and sushi in the lap of luxury; for those trapped in the tail section, life is short and cruel. But change is in the air. Curtis (Chris Evans), desperate to escape the tail of the train, plans an uprising, aided by his mentor Gilliam (John Hurt). What begins as an isolated riot explodes into a mass revolution, an all-or-nothing push to the front of the train, and a war for humanity’s future. Who will live and who will die? How far can they go? Is there hope beyond the frozen wastes.

Anchor Bay did something that is quite rare in Blu-ray releases today. It comes with a fantastic slipcover with beautiful artwork from the film inside. It may seem like a little thing but this a real treat when you are used to most bare bones releases. The 1080p transfer is fantastic, which add to the scale of this film. The visual effects are treated very well and look quite sharp. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 also sounds great, especially in the action scenes. You hear the train speeding my at top speed through each speaker. Marco Beltrami’s score sounds amazing as well and really adds a lot to the tension of the film.

“Snowpiercer” only features an audio commentary on the disc one of the release with Scott Weinberg, of Geek Nation, hosts MSN Movies’ James Rocchi, the Austin Chronicle’s William Goss, Hitfix.com’s Drew Mcweeny, Deadline’s Jennifer Yamato, and Movies.com’s Peter S. Hall. It is very in-depth and definitely aimed at the fans. Of course, I forget to mention that the there is an entire second disc of special features included. “Transperceneige: From the Blank Page to the Black Screen” is a documentary by Jésus Castro-Ortega, which is runs about an hour and dives into the film. “The Birth of Snowpiercer” is a much tighter making of piece. There is a focus on the film’s cast in “The Characters”.

There is an “Animated Prologue”, which dives into the events that are described in the opening monologue of the film.  (HD, 4:31): An animated opening that looks at some of the events only mentioned in the film. “Chris Evans & Tilda Swinton on Snowpiercer” feature the actors talking about their roles and the film. “The Train Brought to Life: Behind the Scenes of a Special Screening” takes us on a promotional tour for the film through Texas that ended with an outdoor screening at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Also included is Tom League’s interview with Bong Joon-Ho. Lastly, there are Concept Art Galleries included.

CD Review “Snowpiercer” Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Snowpiercer
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Composer:Marco Beltrami
Varese Sarabande Records
Tracks: 20
Running Time: 56 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Releasing on July 22nd is Marco Beltrami’s score to the fantastic Joon-Ho Bong film, Snowpiercer. Snowpiercer is the name of the post-apocalyptic train which shelters all remaining life on Earth in a dystopian society arranged from the haves in the front of the train and the haves-nots in the back of the train. Chris Evans’s Curtis leads a rebellion from the back to the front and Beltrami’s score excellently compliments his struggle.

Most of the tracks feature heavy metallic percussive beats that emulate the chugging along of the train as well as the battles along the way. Most notably in the “Blackout Fight” track. Fitting for one of the most exciting sequences of the film. Similarly “Steam Car” manages to maintain this train soundscape while also layering in the steamy atmosphere.

Frequently Beltrami lets up on the action to make way for eerie, sparse piano and orchestral work to accent the more decadent cars of Snowpiercer as in “Sushi”. He also manages to work in the thumping club music of the “Seoul Train”–so different visually in the film–into the forward motion of the rest of the score.

I will admit I enjoyed the action score much more in the context of driving the film, but the haunting piano work it kicks off with and spread throughout is more than enough to recommend giving this a listen on its own. Also, much to my amusement the final track also throws in the charmingly terrifying propaganda anthem from the classroom car (Sample: What happens if the engines stops? We all freeze and DIE!).

Track Listing:
1. This is the End
2. Stomp
3. Preparation
4. Requesting An Upgrade
5. Take the Engine
6. Axe Gang
7. Axe Schlomo
8. Blackout Fight
9. Water Supply
10. Go Ahead
11. Sushi
12. The Seven
13. We Go Forward
14. Steam Car
15. Seoul Train
16. Snow Melt
17. Take My Place
18. Yona Lights
19. This is the Beginning
20. Yona’s Theme

Film Review “Snowpiercer”

Starring: Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, John Hurt, Octavia Spencer and Ed Harris
Directed By: Joon-ho Bong
Running Time: 126 minutes
The Weinstein Company

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Hoards of filthy apocalypse survivors line up to be counted and doled out their daily glob of protein under hostile guard. Two small children are ripped from their parents and a father loses an arm in the most torturously imaginative way possible for throwing a shoe. Welcome to Snowpiercer.

 Or rather the tail section of Snowpiercer, the massive ark-like train that rattles through the frozen wasteland of 2031 Earth in Joon-ho Bong’s wildly inventive adaptation of French graphic novel, Le Transperceneige. By turns hilarious, repulsive and heart-wrenching, Snowpiercer is the ride this summer needs.

The front of the Snowpiercer, we learn, is inhabited by the smaller, richer class, rather like a hellish horizontal Titanic. It’s the front where Chris Evans’s Curtis aims to lead a rebellion to with the help of Jamie Bell as Edgar and elderly mastermind Gilliam, played by John Hurt.

Tilda Swinton rounds out this strong cast as the villainous Mason who early on deigns to visit the tail-dwellers to remind them of their proper place. Mason is a cinematic joy every moment she’s on screen, really laying the groundwork for the type of people running the train and rallying the audience to Evans’s side. Swinton has a ball as Mason who genuinely sees nothing wrong with The Order of the train and she chews the scenery with relish (and grotesque false teeth).

When the rebellion is up and running in earnest, director Bong has a flawless grasp on pacing the big action confrontations with the smaller marvels of exploring a train literally encompassing all life on Earth. The battle set pieces themselves escalate as though the audience is along for a really satisfying video game, with all the pitfalls of slicing through armies of minions only to have the level shift before you, revealing a surprise big boss. I recommend seeing this film in a packed house for the sheer number of Oh Shit! Moments this film packs in.

Finally though, not enough can be said of Evans’s performance here. Likely in the beginning of this rebellion to have been involved for physical strength, his Curtis attempts to resist leadership at every turn. And yet the more he loses as he progresses through the train, the more his will is honed and Evans’s eyes gradually give way to a man who has nothing to lose. A third act speech regarding Curtis’s early days on Snowpiercer is devestating and classically told without flashbacks. It’s all Evans’s reading of some truly nightmarish details, not unlike the Indianopolis speech in Jaws. I’d put money on this film having the single most repulsive sentence you’ll hear on screen this year. Incidentally, after 2007’s Sunshine and last year’s role in The Iceman, Evans is increasingly becoming my goto for the anti-summer blockbuster when he’s not Avenging. When he puts down Cap’s shield, audiences really need to pay more attention.

Snowpiercer is currently playing in five US cities with plans for expansion listed on the film’s official website , check it out when it gets near you!