2014 | 125 minutes | Rated R
Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer takes its name from the futuristic super-train in which everyone left on earth lives—the film introduces the train as the "rattling ark" that's keeping humanity alive. In the middle of the 21st century, the grubby masses are forced to live in the rear cars, in near-darkness and the filth that comes from putting too many humans in a too-small box. The wealthy few live in the luxurious, sprawling cars at the front, and the 99 percent are kept in line with threats, reminders that things are exactly as they should be, and an imposing cadre of armed, paramilitary types. This world died not with global warming, but in ice; a last-ditch effort to curb rising temperatures with an airborne cooling agent called CW7 resulted in the entire world freezing to inhospitable temperatures (CW7 must be a close cousin to Ice-nine from Kurt Vonnegut's novel Cat's Cradle). Only the Snowpiercer, a perpetual-motion machine of a train on tracks that stretch across the entire world, survives. It's a lunatic premise, but Snowpiercer manages to get everything exactly right. This is a world-class science fiction movie, an ambitious, overstuffed epic that will influence young directors for years to come.
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