MOVIE REVIEW: Snowpiercer (2013)

After Earth is turned into a frozen wasteland, what remains of humanity is trapped on a high speed train circling the planet. The front of the train is a place of luxury, occupied by the super rich while the end of the train is occupied by the “tailenders” who live in absolute squalor and desperation.

When a child is taken for apparently nefarious purposes, Curtis (Chris Evans) steps up his plans for revolution and to reach and take the front of the train. He’ll need to free security expert, Namgoong Minsoo (Kang-Ho Song) and battle his way through multiple carriages to do so, along the way questioning everything he has ever known to be true.

The train is very obviously a metaphor for modern capitalism, with mysterious engineer Wilford (Ed Harris) representing the 1%, his enforcer, Mason (Tilda Swinton) representing the deluded social climbing middle class and the tailenders the exploited developing world.

If you watch the film purely from a symbolic angle, it’s fairly decent. It has enough twists and horrors to keep it interesting and it’s beautifully made. I mean it is neither a subtle or a nuanced metaphor, but it works.

Captain America needed a good bath

If you think about the actual plot too much it quickly turns into a bit of Swiss cheese. CAUTION A BIT SPOILERY: Wilford’s whole closed ecosystem didn’t actually make an enormous amount of sense. What was the purpose of the tailenders? It’s not like they were working for the front carriagers. What was up with the symbolic fish gutting? Are we genuinely supposed to believe Namgoong’s daughter is going to start a new independent life in the wastelands with just some third hand information from an Inuit woman? What did Gwilliam (Ian Hurt) actually get from his deal? Why did Mason take out her teeth?

Anyway, I quite enjoyed this, even though it was a bit bonkers. As always Octavia Spencer steals the show and Evans is not bad at all as Curtis. I feel like he chose this role because he needed a breather from playing Captain America. His whole speech about the origins of the tailenders. doesn’t quite land but he gives it a good go. Swinton is once again immersed into her character and manages to make Mason both repulsive and pitiful.

I think possibly some of it got lost in translation, which I have seen happen before with a Korean director doing English language cinema. I really like Korean films… but in Korean.



  1. I was surprised that I actually enjoyed it, seeing as I only watched it for Tilda Swinton. I would give it a higher score than you did, I suspect, because it actually looked so good. However, I watched it late at night with my brain turned off, just enjoying the visuals. And I had consumed some wine… 🙂
    Maybe I will watch it again; wide-awake, and sober. If I do, I will review it too.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. This would be a perfect watch if you were a little… unfocused I was on a long train journey in the middle of the afternoon and way too sober. Ha ha!

  2. I liked this one a lot. It has been on my ludicrously long ‘rewatch’ list for a while.

    1. I would be interested to see how it stands up to a rewatch.

  3. I especially enjoyed Tilda’s performance. I thought it a fun ride.

    1. She is such a chameleon!

      1. I haven’t seen her lately in the screen. I wonder what she is up to?

  4. This film has certainly divided opinion with no middle ground. I personally loved it and had it in my top ten of the year for 2014, yet I know others who hate it with a passion… :\

    1. I can appreciate why people love it and I read a lot of really positive reviews. It just didn’t resonate with me.

  5. […] I watched this film a long time ago. It was late at night, and I admit I had consumed some wine. I remember thinking it looked good, and enjoying the big-name cast. Then last week, I read a review of the film on the blog of the lovely Abi. […]

  6. I just watched it again, and reviewed it.
    You were right. 🙂 2/5 would be a fair score. That 2 is just for the train though.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. In the end we definitely came to the same conclusion!

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