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Snowpiercer  (DVD)

8/10

Stars: Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton, Song Kang Ho, Ed Harris, Octavia Spencer, John Hurt, Alison Pill, Ewen Bremner, Luke Pasqualino, Emma Levie

Director: Bong Joon Ho

A train movie with a difference,this is one of two Bong Joon Ho films that preceded the South Korean director's Oscar-winning Parasite (the other, Okja, is also well worth seeking out if you can find it).

In this delightfully innovative if grimly violent slice of science-fiction, it's 2038 and Snowpiercer is a humongous train speeding around the Euro-Asian world, blasting its way through snow and ice and carrying the (hundreds) of survivors of a world frozen solid by its inhabitants' efforts to slow down global warming.

It's a brilliant idea and the execution, although dingily shot at times, is very nearly as good. How this escaped a previous UK release is something of a mystery.

A heavily-bearded, hollow-cheeked Evans, almost unrecognisable from his Captain America/Avengers days, is a rebel leader determined to improve the lot of the scores of 'steerage' passengers who languish in the train's rear carriages, fed on a diet of gloopy protein bars culled from insects.

Meanwhile, in the front of the train, deranged engineer Ed Harris, bolstered by his chief enforcer (an equally unrecognisable Tilda Swinton, fast becoming the movies' Ms Versatility) and her brigade of stormtroopers, sees to it that the privileged passengers and their children enjoy classrooms, activities, nightclubs and proper food. Something has to give, and so it does, in a storm of intense action scenes both visceral and semi-comical, in the tight confines of the train. It's quite a trip.


David Quinlan

USA/South Korea/Czech Republic 2013. UK Distributor: LionsGate. Colour by deluxe.
121 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 1, Swearing 3.

Review date: 21 May 2020