There were two movies I was really looking forward to this year by a pair of South Korean directors getting some English-language work -- Stoker and Snowpiercer. Park Chan-wook’s Stoker turned out completely freaking amazing, and now we’re getting our first look at Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer, which many had tipped for Cannes but was not ready in time for consideration. Starring Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Song Kang-ho, Octavia Spencer and our alien queen, Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer looks like it’s worth the wait.
The concept is esoteric, to say the least. Adapted from a French graphic novel, “Snowpiercer” refers to a giant train that houses what’s left of humanity after an attempt to stave off global warming instead causes a catastrophic natural disaster that basically freezes the world. But it’s not really about that. The whole thing is a class metaphor, with the poor and disenfranchised living in the back of the train while the rich live large in the front. The engine also happens to be in the front, and the closer to the engine you get, the warmer you are. So it’s really no surprise when the people in the back of the train get sick of their sh*tty, freezing conditions and revolt.
This is an effective trailer, teasing the revolutionary and action elements and giving a solid look at all the main characters (Swinton’s teeth!) as well as the frozen world. But it also makes Snowpiercer look like a fairly standard action/sci-fi movie, which I’m not buying. Harvey Weinstein bought this last year—action movies aren’t really his bag. For him to be interested, there has to be more to it than just a fancy action movie. The vibe on this trailer is not that they’re hiding a crap movie behind a good trailer, but that they’re not going to waste their best visuals and scenes on marketing, leaving the middling stuff for the trailer editors.
Look at Swinton’s face as she watches the fighting through her binoculars. It’s a little…extra, right? The trailer is clicking along and then there’s that and it’s like—OH. Suddenly there’s more going on than just a claustrophobic action movie. There are a lot of questions about this movie, but after seeing the trailer, I’m cautiously optimistic that this might be one of the more interesting and exciting films of the year.
Attached -- Tilda hosting the Venetian Heritage Award a couple of weeks ago.