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The Films of Joon-ho Bong

Barking Dogs Never Bite

Memories of Murder

The Host

Click here for review.

Mother

Snowpiercer (July 18/14)

Adapted from a French comic book, Snowpiercer unfolds in a post-apocalyptic future where humanity's sole survivors are housed aboard a lengthy train that's been divided into classes - with the movie's narrative kicked into motion after the impoverished passengers, led by Chris Evans' Curtis, decide to stage a revolution. It's a fairly absurd premise that's initially employed to disappointing and underwhelming effect by filmmaker Joon-ho Bong, as the director, making his English-language debut here, infuses the early part of Snowpiercer with a curiously (and distractingly) broad sensibility that's reflected most keenly in its performances - with Tilda Swinton's larger-than-life, go-for-broke turn as a toothy fascist certainly ranking head and shoulders above her able castmates. (It's worth noting, however, that Swinton's work becomes more and more engrossing as time progresses.) The movie's static atmosphere persists until the aforementioned impoverished passengers begin making their way through the train, with Snowpiercer's midsection subsequently boasting a whole handful of absolutely enthralling images and sequences. (There is, for example, a thoroughly captivating interlude in which the rebels encounter a pregnant, gun-toting schoolteacher.) It doesn't hurt that Bong, along with production designer Ondrej Nekvasil, offers up a series of breathtaking sets as the characters move to the front of the train, and it's clear, too, that such moments are heightened by the dwindling roster of protagonists (ie it becomes easier to root for the heroes as their numbers grow smaller and smaller). The absolutely watchable vibe comes to an almost dead stop as the movie enters its anti-climactic third act, as scripters Bong and Kelly Masterson close out the proceedings with an overly talky stretch that's rife with exposition and explanations (ie it's awfully reminiscent of that now-notorious Architect scene from The Matrix Reloaded). The end result is an uneven, overlong thriller that nevertheless sets itself apart from its summer-movie brethren, with Snowpiercer's faults ultimately outweighed by its raft of positive attributes and stellar, action-fueled set pieces.

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