Just saw this.
Solid film. Not on par with City of God or Children of Men, which to me are masterpieces in storytelling and production, but definitely a solid, solid film that I would recommend to those who wanna watch something with some soul to its flesh and bones.
SETTING THE STAGE
the world has gone to shit – and in this instance, we’ve entered a new ice-age that has wiped out life-as-we-know-it on earth, and the remaining people are on a Noah’s Ark of sorts, in the form of a train that never stops, circling the frozen and desolate world.
The name of the game: social stratification, exploring it from the angle that those in power justify reinforcing it (with violent, cruel, and inhumane means) under the banner of a “healthy ecosystem,” in which “every individual has their ‘preordained’ place” in the train.
An underdog set out to escape an oppressive system fights his way through a gauntlet of power-serving police, hoping that his elder will become the leader of the “community,” but along the way, the underdog emerges as a leader through trial, discernment, decisiveness, and the greater good, as he confronts oppressive power at the top, in hopes that the community the new leader is a part of has a chance at a new life, a new hope, and a free world in which suffering can be eliminated – or at least to destroy the systemic structure that enslaves a class of people to the benefit the upper echelon, who only cares to be sedated with drugs, creature comforts, and heartlessness in regard to the downtrodden and exploited.
THINGS DONE WELL
Chris Evans does a great job of acting. Had he been a bit to the left or to the right, the film could have veered easily into cheesiness and campiness, and the stakes of the film could have dropped drastically, but he pulled off a great performance.
Ed Harris plays a very cool, rational, “logical” and therefore, so, so, so, so very mentally twisted and emotionally decrepit cult-leader/CEO/demi-god/architect figurehead. You don’t really hate him, but nothing he says seems legitimate in the face of all that we’ve gone through as we’ve watched the hero claw his way to the top.
The stark contrast between the living conditions of the haves and have-nots, makes each successive level into excess and luxury look so very, very disgusting. Now that I think about it, the film does an amazing job at displaying the fruits of greed in a tertiary manner, rather than moralizing against it directly through preachiness. Some of the luxurious levels look so beautiful and serene, but within the context of how everything else is in that society, they start to look so very, very evil. And it becomes very evident that the only way those levels can be maintained is through the exploitation of the oppressed class. This theme is hit on the head a bit much, but the visuals and production do a very solid job of demonstrating how this greed plays out.
THINGS THAT COULD HAVE BEEN DONE BETTER
Some of the fight scenes could have used a bit more, backstory? I don’t know. I’m always skeptical when a downtrodden hero displays preternatural fighting skills, but I’m sure that exists in the real word.
VFX were aiite, but considering the overall budget, they squeezed out a ton from the money they had.
Some of the acting could have been more nuanced – like the dude who lost his arm, and even the Door Opener’s daughter.
When the teacher pulls a gun out after she acts all creepily happy-go-lucky-cult-follower when praising the “glorious achievements” of the dear leader, Wilford.
POLITICS SURROUNDING THE FILM
Harvey Weinstein didn’t like that Bong Joon Ho didn’t want to cut 20 minutes from the film, and thereby, imposed an artificial “limited screening” and blocked the film from having a nationwide release. Who can say why he did this? I wonder what motivations and intentions were behind such actions. I can’t say! The mysteries of life abound unabated.
I wish they hired me to do the motion graphics for the Wilford propaganda piece that they play to indoctrinate the kiddies at school. I woulda knocked it outta the park. I’m super curious who was hired to do those. For a story set in the year 2030 or whenever, the motion graphics were straight up steeped in 2013 motion graphics trends up the wazoo.