The Critical Order is a site that's an amalgamation of all sorts of reviews. You'll see video games, you'll see movies,comics, theatre, whatever that's new that I am able to see. Regardless, I respect all opinions, so please respect mine. If you have a suggestion for something to review, please post in the comments!
Sunday, July 13, 2014
2014 so far has been very underwhelming in terms of good releases. Whenever a promising title is released, I get hopeful that maybe, just maybe, that it might be a good film. So far, this year has been a wasteland of bad movies, with nary a good one in sight. After Earth To Echo, I sincerely considered just throwing my hands up in the air and wait until Guardians of the Galaxy is released; a movie that I know is going to be good and at the very least entertaining. I'm just starving for something good to watch and not just mindless junk.
And then I saw Snowpiercer.
The year is 2031, and the world has plummeted into a second Ice Age. No life can exist due to the subzero environment, and humanity is forced to live on a giant train in order to live. The train, called the Snowpiercer, is equipped with everything humanity needs to survive. There's food, water, plants, a bustling economy, and most importantly, a warm place to live. That is, if you live in the front of the train. The back has none of those luxuries. In the back, food is rationed, overpopulation is a daily problem, and there's never enough of anything to sustain life. Curtis, a revolutionary from the very back of the train, wants only one thing; get to the engine and put a stop to the Snowpiercer once and for all.
I have a bit of a confession to make right now. For the past few movies, I've mostly seen them out of an attempt to try to see something interesting. I was craving for anything that could reignite the spark that I felt talking about movies and what makes them so special and the past two movies, Earth To Echo and How To Train Your Dragon 2, were there essentially as filler. I have not been excited for one movie at all this year like I was when I saw Gravity or The Wolf of Wall Street last year. To that degree, I've tried to see more movies to fill that void, mostly because all of the movies that I really want to see are either coming out next year or much later on this year. I want to see Interstellar. I want to see Big Hero 6. I want to see Into The Woods. Hell, I even want to see the Nicholas Cage movie Left Behind. I guess what I'm trying to get at is that for the past few months, I've been so bored an unimpressed with the slate of releases that I didn't know what to do. Snowpiercer reconfirms the reason why I watch movies and why I watch movies that look really interesting; because I want to see them.
The last society on Earth
This is how you do a sci-fi movie. Above all else, this movie excels at creating a believable world and fills it with characters that you genuinely care about. Curtis is a man who was forced onto the train and had to do whatever he can to survive, no matter the cost. He's a man that has a lot of baggage, but he never lets that stop him from trying to have everyone have a better life in the back. Oh, and THIS is how you do classism in movies. The portrayal of classism in this movie puts The Hunger Games and its 1% stand-ins "The Capitol" to shame. Snowpiercer is much more creative and inventive with how it deals with its subject material than any other movie this year.
Back onto the world building aspect, everything about the world on the train is very well crafted. We spend time in the back with the poor people and see just how they live their lives and how they're oppressed by the First Class citizens, and then we go to see just how every facet of the train operates as well as how the First Class live their lives. Every character and every scene has a purpose, and all of them are used to build up the cruel world that these characters inhabit.
In one scene, Curtis and his comrades look outside a window and see seven bodies frozen in ice as they pass by. The bodies barely made it fifty feet from the train before freezing and dying. A First Class citizen looks on and says that outside of the train, everyone would die, and if the train ever stopped, then everyone would die. That's just the way the world works in Snowpiercer. Even though society is horribly imbalanced on the train, it's the only thing keeping humanity alive, so now Curtis has to wonder what will happen when he reaches the front of the train and into the engine room. Hell, what can he do?
The world of Snowpiercer is a harsh mistress
From the very beginning of the movie, seeds of rebellion have been sowed into each of the characters, and all of them have a reason to try and fight against the First Class, and in particular Wilford, the prophetic creator of the Snowpiercer who has built somewhat of a religion around himself. Wilford is the savior of humanity. Wilford keeps the train going. Without Wilford, everyone would die. Wilford is, for lack of a better word, God to the people of the Snowpiercer, so Curtis's rebellion to each the front takes on a whole new meaning with Wilford thrown into the mix. Everyone knows that Wilford is the one who keeps the train moving, so would you join a result to overthrow the man who is saving your life? And when Curtis eventually does make it the front, what happens to him and his fellow rebels is a ethical and theological nightmare that has to be seen to believe.
On his quest to make it to the front though, Curtis does meet resistance from other inhabitants, and its in these scenes that we release just how good of an action movie this is. Action scenes are sprinkled throughout, and they are all very well done. The movie is easily at its best when it uses aspects of its world to help strengthen its fight scenes. Bullets no longer exist on the train, the last of which were used up in previous rebellions, so the only way for anyone to fight is through weapons and tools found throughout the train. Some objects in particular get some very good use, like axes, crowbars, and a lot of fire. Oh God, the fire in this movie is amazing.
Every character is defined, every setting is done in exquisite detail, and the world is one of the best worlds I've ever seen in a movie. I almost want to compare it to Bioshock's Rapture, but the argument doesn't hold up. While Rapture is a society that is very similar to the Snowpiercer, the Snowpiercer is much more organized and preplanned. It has a defined order to is that hasn't collapsed on itself and is still fully functional. Rapture may have several of the same elements as the Snowpiercer, but they are two completely different beasts. Rapture embodies man's ambition and its attempt to make the perfect world. The Snowpiercer embodies the depths humanity will sink to to survive. Anything is alright as long as you live another day.
What would you do to live?
I'm begging you all, to my readers, no matter who you are. See. This. Movie. Here, have a link to the movie's website where you can find out where this movie is playing. Or hell, just watch it on On Demand. It's there for $7. Just someone, anyone watch this movie. This is the kind of movie that doesn't get made often anymore. It's a thrill ride that has the nerve to be more than just a sci-fi movie. It's a movie about humanity and the need to live at any cost. If you ever see one movie this summer, make it Snowpiercer.
Oh, and the cold DID bother these guys. Take that Elsa!