Snowpiercer ★★★½

It's not the second coming of the action blockbuster, but I enjoyed it quite a lot. The second half is superior to the first, since the parade through the front half of the train has some great, Gilliam-esque moments that the dour first half-hour doesn't. As everyone seems to agree on, the best parts involve either Tilda Swinton or Alison Pill. In fact, the Alison Pill scene may be my favorite summer movie moment this year. A bit disappointing to see the cast get whittled down so ferociously in the back half, but the Ed Harris finale cameo helps with that. (Another favorite moment: "Nice.")

Of course, the whole thing could have been improved if Chris Evans wasn't the lead. I think the correct focus should have been on Kang-ho Song and Ah-sung Ko, the father/daughter kronole addicts. Evans is just such a vanilla lead, and such a conventional Hollywood hero-type, that it's hard to get invested in him or his arc. (And Jamie Bell, as his best friend, is such an annoying ass that his death lacked the pathos that was so clearly intended.) Now, it's possible to write a story about a white male hero rising up to lead a revolution and sort of failing/capitulating at the very end, thus making the story a critique of white male hero-worship, and I think there's a strain of that here. But not nearly enough, and I think moving the POV of the story to Nam and Yona would have made that critique more explicit, and the final film a lot more interesting.

Still, a damn shame it's not getting a wider release. Hopefully it'll have a healthy afterlife on VOD, streaming, etc.

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