Overrated movie of the year: Snowpiercer

Yours truly sees all sorts of movies with alleged environmental messages (even the recent Godzilla, for crying out loud) to see how pop culture understands the on-coming prospect of planetary disaster.

One of the best such movies in recent years was "The Host," from South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho, which at least one other critic called "the best monster movie ever made." That 2007 movie had it all: a classic premise, brought to vivid (and anti-American life); a bizarre failure of a man who became a hero more or less in spite of himself; an endearing child battling a ghastly monster; an odd but captivating sense of humor; great action direction; a surly Communist to set events in motion — surely one of the best genre movies of the century to date. 

So yours truly eagerly awaited the director's next major outing, complete with a plethora of stars: young Chris Evans; Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, and the two most memorable Korean characters from "The Host." And so did other critics, evidently, for as a group they have fallen all over themselves in praising it — jeez, the usually reliable Andrew O'Hehir of Salon has called it "the best action film of 2014, and probably the best film, period." 

Its numerical rating on Rotten Tomatoes comes in at an absurd 94%. Metacritic's algorithm puts it at 83% (Though the real people rating comes in lower — 75%).

But folks, let me tell you, even if you like the global warming analogy (in which a substance sprayed into the sky brings on a freeze fatal to nearly the entire planet, within six months), you won't like this movie. Even if you enjoy the brutal parable of the 99% living on a train, trying to win some decency in life from the 1% who runs the show. Even if you can stand the ghastly axe-battling, the hoary disco decadence, the bizarre schoolteacher ruling the kids — all the metaphors, in other words — it's still a crummy movie, with some of the most banal dialogue in memory, the most boring hero imaginable (Chris Evans, showing not a smidge of the wit of his previous outing as Captain America), and a completely unreal setting. 

Politically I have no real problems with the movie (except for the preposterous ending). But I don't think it's too much to ask for a veneer of plausibility, or, if that's not possible, at least a compensatory outrageousness or, um, fun? This is grim, bitter, harsh obvious stuff, in look and in plot. 

Think you can see its dullness in this publicity still:


Weird thing is that the critics praise the movie even as they damn so many of its individual elements. O'Herir says it has "a creaky start." David Edelstein, perhaps my fave overall critic today, says the action scenes "are choppy and gracelessly staged, and the actors are high on the hog." Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post, another critic who usually keeps her wits about her, calls the movie 

a tonal mishmash that can never decide between thoughtful political metaphor, lightheartedness and pulverizing violence. Bong seems most at home with the latter, which he stages with tiresome, slow-motion fetishism, mixing costumes and weaponry in an effort to distract from the scenes’ sheer repetitiveness.

And yet her mostly laudatory review is headlined: "All aboard a cold train to nowhere!'

Inexplicable. Perhaps the legendarily overbearing producer Harvey Weinstein twisted arms, or spiked the critics' drinks, or something. 

Demand better environmental apocalypse movies! Avoid this dumb one. Please. 

Add yours ↓
  1. matt

    Thank you…

    I felt it to be a spoof… it honestly had the taste of a well done bollywood movie.
    and captain america guy when he looks like hes thinking it hurts.

    Favorite movie.

    2001 space odyssey

    July 21, 2014
  2. парфюми

    2001 space odyssey is my favorite too!!!

    July 27, 2014
  3. Sawyer

    I thought I was the only one who thought this movie was overrated. I agree that there were some interesting ideas, but the execution of those ideas were odd. The beginning was slow but even worse is the ending felt rushed and forced. I was unsatisfied with what I was left with. Overall, Meh.

    January 7, 2015
  4. Andrew

    “Its numerical rating on Rotten Tomatoes comes in at an absurd 94% (Though the real people rating comes in lower — 75%).”

    the “real people”? seriously?! so film critics are not real people? trust me, both common folks and film critics are real, the only difference is that the film critics actually know what the hell they’re talking about, as opposed to some random peasants on the street who have no idea what’s good about this extraordinary piece of filmmaking.

    i wonder who fooled you into thinking that the opinions of some random folks on the streets (or should i say, random folks on the internet) matter more than the opinion of FILM CRITICS? it’s actually the other way around, the film critics studied for years this form of art, they went to universities of film, they literally earned their right to analyze film.

    so if the rotten tomatoes rating is a whooping 95% based on the opinion of 190 film critics, while the rating of some 50.000 random folks (or “real people” how you like to call’em) comes in much lower, then what do you think: will i take the word of 190 film critics, or the word of 50.000 common folks? without hesitation i’ll take the word of 190 film critics, make no mistake about that.

    June 10, 2015