Magazine article Screen International

Snowpiercer

Magazine article Screen International

Snowpiercer

Article excerpt

Dir: Bong Joon-ho. South Korea. 2013. 125mins

Further demonstrating why he is arguably one of Korea's top and most consistent film directors, Bong Joon-ho's (2006's The Host) first English language film Snowpiercer, which takes place on a train that circles the earth once it enters an ice age, is an enthralling ride that never runs out of momentum as it cleverly examines the issue of social class in a thoroughly engaging, yet complex manner.

Bong has also assembled the perfect cast with talent spreading across three continents reflecting the global nature of the film and its narrative.

Already pre-sold to a record 167 territories - including English speaking territories where The Weinstein Company own the rights - it allows CJ E&M and its investors to recoup half of the film's budget of $39.2 million, giving the film a strong start on the international market owing to a strong cast including names such as Chris Evans and John Hurt along with Bong's strong reputation and the film's interesting premise.

Prospects, meanwhile, remain strong in Korea despite a somewhat darker tone where Bong Joon-ho's name as revered filmmaker together with the casting and reunion of local talent Song Kang-ho and Ko Ah-sung (they both featured in Bong Joon-ho's The Host that amassed over 13 million admissions ($64.6 million) along with the curiosity factor and hype will boost its potential to perform well in Korea when it premieres there on 1st August.

Based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette, the film takes place on a train called 'Snowpiercer' that is powered by a perpetual-motion engine, which circles the planet after the earth enters an ice age following a failed experiment to stop global warming. A class system soon evolves on the train with an elite class inhabiting the front of the train led by a mysterious figure called Wilford, while the less privileged reside in the back who are subjected to impoverished living conditions.

Determined to overthrow Wilford and take control of the train are a number of revolutionaries led by Curtis (Chris Evans) who decide to begin making their perilous and arduous journey to the front of the train to try and end their doomed fate.

Audiences accustomed to Bong's work may find it darker than usual, but this is natural given the nature of the narrative as it focuses on the inner workings of social class, but much like his previous films, it never ceases to be enjoyable. Bong's masterstroke at delivering both depth and suspense, as evident in his films such as Memories Or Murder (2003) and Mother (2009), is used to scintillating effect through a well written narrative that exploits the limited space on a train that provides the perfect location for Bong's sci-fi adventure. …

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