Snowpiercer

 
Brutal post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller has big themes.
  • Review Date: June 27, 2014
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 126 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The train is set up like a miniature country, where certain numbers of people are kept in poverty simply to keep the economy and resources in balance; the poor people could be helped, but they aren't. One character learns to be a leader, even though he doesn't necessarily believe in himself at first. And a secondary character thinks outside the box, literally. He dreams of escaping the entire system and starting afresh; the two characters have different solutions to the problem of poverty and repression.

Positive role models

One character learns to be a leader even though he doesn't initially believe in himself. A powerful female character is shown to be just as strong as any man. Characters work together extremely well to attain a difficult goal.

Violence

Very brutal and bloody. Guards beat up an old woman and take children away from their parents. Many characters are violently beaten or shot during many assorted fights, brawls, and battles. Some are executed point blank; key characters die, and the overall body count is high. Characters fight with axes, knives, guns, and other weapons. Blood is shown dribbling and spurting. A man's arm is shoved through a hole in the train; after a few minutes, it freezes solid, and the bad guys shatter it. There's a gross-out scene involving some bugs. Children are shown to be brainwashed in a "school" car, and other children are forced to be laborers. Some disturbing dialogue about cannibalism. There's a huge crash.

Sex

Some bathing suit-clad women are briefly seen lounging in hot tubs and pools.

Language

"F--k" and its various permutations are used a few times, plus "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," "bastards," "damn," "crap," and English slang like "shite."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters are highly addicted to a fictitious drug called "Kronol," which one character describes as "industrial waste." Chunks of Kronol are stolen and used as bargaining chips. A character has saved two cigarettes, and they're smoked at various points, with characters eagerly savoring every deep drag. Characters are seen sipping wine and champagne in a background way.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Snowpiercer is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie with frequent brutal fighting and violence: There's shooting, spurting blood, guns, knives, axes, and a scene of torture in which a character's arm is frozen and shattered. The body count is very high and includes important/key characters. Strong language includes a few uses of "f--k" and "s--t" (once uttered by a little girl), as well as "a--hole," "bitch," and "bastard." Characters are seemingly addicted to a fictitious drug called Kronol, and a character's carefully saved cigarettes are smoked lovingly at key moments in the story. The material is dark, with intense themes about the behavior of humans in particular and society in general. But even though it takes a pretty bleak view of humanity, the movie (which stars Captain America's Chris Evans) still has some admirable characters who take leadership positions, prove their strength, and work together to fight difficult odds.

What's the story?

In 2031, after an attempt to quell global warming, Earth has become a frozen wasteland, and the only survivors are on board a spectacular, self-sustaining train that speeds continuously around the globe. The denizens of the rear cars are tired of being treated poorly, and talk of a revolution starts stirring. Curtis (Chris Evans) is the natural choice to lead, but they'll need the help of Namgoong (Song Kang-ho) to break through the locked doors, and they'll need extra courage, strength, and cleverness to deal with the hazards and pitfalls that await, and increase, at each level. Curtis could be the first to ever make it to the engine, with the fate of all humanity hanging in the balance.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

One of the world's most talented filmmakers, Korean director Bong Joon-ho (The Host, Mother, etc.) has proven that he can handle varied material that has strong themes with confident pacing and impressive visuals. SNOWPIERCER is a big film with a large cast, but Bong brilliantly juggles fights, characters, and ideas -- including a savvy use of food -- and fits it all succinctly within his amazing visual design and scope.

The movie's dystopian future could have been heavy-handed, but instead it's balanced with equal amounts of intelligence and hope. And, of course, filming in a long, thin corridor could have been repetitive, but the images are constantly striking and surprising. Bong doesn't neglect his cast, either. Song Kang-ho and Ko Ah-sung return from The Host (again playing father and daughter), Evans gives one of his finest performances, and Ed Harris is especially memorable. All in all, this is an exceptional sci-fi thriller, worth far more than just its visual effects.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Snowpiercer's violence. How much of it was necessary to the story? Did it seem excessively gory or brutal?

  • What's the ultimate reason that the people in the back cars were kept in poverty? Was this a logical decision? Was it best for the largest amount of people, or should they have been helped?

  • What's the appeal of the post-apocalyptic genre?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 27, 2014
DVD release date:October 21, 2014
Cast:Kang-ho Song, Chris Evans, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer
Director:Joon-ho Bong
Studio:Weinstein Co.
Genre:Science Fiction
Run time:126 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:violence, language and drug content

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Written byAnonymous November 21, 2014
age 15+
 

Hopeless and oppressive but well-made and artistic

It is a very hopeless movie showing humans as being doomed to dystopian elements in all societies. The setting is amazing. It's surreal and dreamlike in the best way and incredibly interesting. It's really striking how well this was done and it made it easier to be pulled into the movies world. The violence is constant and pretty bloody but that isn't even really the reason I would say that it is iffy for 15 year olds (I was fine with it, others might not be.) The real issue is that the movie is, in some ways, so incredibly bleak and hopeless. To the extent that that hopelessness goes beyond even what is realistic in my opinion. Is the fight for issues such as equality an uphill battle? yes but is it completely impossible to improve in any way? no. Of course things will never be perfect. There will always be prejudice and class discrimination on some level but the train itself is an example of how it is entirely possible for this issue to be better or worse simply by comparing this world we live in to the one on the screen. This movie would say otherwise. It would tell you that everything is truly hopeless within human society and that there are no right answers. It suggests that every action people take is destructive and that the systems designed to oppress people should not be tampered with or protested for fear of making things worse, and because, it suggests, change is impossible. It is a beautifully and artistically illustrated idea but also a very disturbing (and in my opinion false) one. As much as I disagree with some of the points this movie seems to be making I still admire it's artistic style and the way the points were made. This is definitely deserving of at least four stars, and although I think that the ideas it is pushing are completely wrong, I would say it deserves five stars. This really is a great movie and if you can handle the intensity, hopelessness, and violence it presents then I highly recommend it.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 16 years old Written byjbuck3151 July 27, 2014
Teen, 16 years old Written byStevie111 July 4, 2014
age 16+
 

Decent, though bad ending

Brutal sci-fi film is good up until the last half hour or so. I feel they killed off to many main characters. The film is made relatively well, but there are a few too many twists. Overall it's fine, but nothing great.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written byamurrayxx January 9, 2015
age 15+
 

Cannibalism+Death+Truefacts= You will not sleep

Im 13 years old and this movie was horrific for me. The thing about this movie is that it makes you think. There have been ice ages before and there are most likely going to me more is the future. The worst part was the description of the cannibalism (when the man tells the story) Its very scary to think that its true in some situations people get so hungry they kill innocent people and eat them which has happened before. I have watched lots of scary - horror movies before but for me nothing compared to this. There was so much emotion but so much death (you cant even tell who the main characters in this movie are).
What other families should know
Too much violence

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