A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
This is an exceptional sci-fi thriller, worth far more than just its visual effects. One of the world's most talented filmmakers, Korean director Bong Joon-ho (The Host, Mother, etc.) has proved 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.
Talk to your kids 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?
- In theaters: June 27, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: 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
- Last updated: February 17, 2021
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