Thursday, July 24, 2014

Snowpiercer Review

Snowpiercer 3.5

By: Steven Johnston

Bong Joon-Ho’s first English Language film, Snowpiercer, wasn’t reviewed by The Void Zone this year, but it wasn’t too long ago that we reviewed his 2006 Korean film, The Host, and recommended it. That, combined with the fact that Snowpiercer has made so many critics’ best lists already, I felt compelled to seek it out.

Snowpiercer depicts a post-apocalyptic world where a last ditch attempt to reverse the effects of global warming has led to a new Ice Age, and all surviving life on Earth has boarded a train which travels all the known railroads of Earth at great speed. This train was invented by the enigmatic, Social Darwinism spouting, billionaire industrialist known as Wilford (Ed Harris). He lives at the head of the train, and tends the engine. The rich passengers live lavishly at the front of the train, and the very poor live at the back of the train in poverty and squalor, and where many of the oldest passengers are amputees. No matter what your station, the powers that be, personified by Tilda Swinton’s Mason, use the cult of personality surrounding Wilford and the religious belief in the power of his engine to make sure that everyone stays in their place. After all, a shoe will never be fit to be a hat.

Enter Chris Evans’ Curtis who, along with his young assistant Edgar (Jaimie Bell), and his aged amputee mentor (John Hurt), embarks on a revolution to spring a security expert (Song Kang-ho) from the jail car, and fight their way to the front of the train to instill a new order.

Curtis has been described in other sources as a reluctant revolutionary. I disagree. Evans plays Curtis as a man of action, easily sliding into the role of the leader, but afraid of how far he might go. As he and his companions fight their way through the different cars of the train, and the level of violence and sacrifice increases, he reveals levels of regret, fear, and guilt which only become clear in the movie’s final act. It’s a 180 degree turn (within the action genre) from Evans’ Captain America role, where he plays a melancholy and sure-footed relic of a bygone era. It’s a great performance. In fact, the performances, staging, set and art direction, and cinematography are impeccable, but they are all in service of a by the numbers dystopian action thriller that lacks punch.

The characters are constantly moving from left to right along the length of the train. The plot of the movie doesn’t require the characters to actually solve any mysteries, uncover any truths, or even do anything more interesting than race to the front of the train, hacking and slashing their way forward until whatever of their number is left confronts Ed Harris who congratulates them on their grit and spunk, and spouts dialogue that wasn’t original when the Emperor was spouting it at the end of Return of the Jedi thirty years ago (again, this is not a problem with Harris, but the lines he’s given).

It’s a good movie, far better than average, but for me, it lacked the emotional resonance of other actioners this year like Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, or X-Men: Days of Future Past. It should also be noted that those movies all turn on the protagonists’ decisions to eschew violence or vengeance, whereas Snowpiercer’s characters can only solve their problems by punching, hacking, shooting, or exploding their enemies. In a summer that has seen so many heroes question whether simply pummeling one more person will solve their problems, it’s ironic that so many critics have embraced as one of the best movies of the year, a film that argues for beating down your enemies – even if the ultimate product is worthy of a recommendation.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Void Zone Episode 122, or "Nick suggested a title. I just did this instead."

Apparently, a week was not enough to get over how bad Transformers 4 was. So, they still bitch about it. They also reviewed other (and better) movies.

Those movies were Errors of the Human Body, Romancing the Stone, and Earth to Echo.

Get it here or stream the show below!

The Void Zone Episode 121, or "I get it! These movies transform into paychecks!"

In this episode, quality movies are discussed. And then, at the end, a bad movie is. Spoilers. Whatever. Shut up.

Anyway, the guys review The Square, Thelma and Louise, and Transformers: Age of Extinction.

Get the show here or stream it below!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Void Zone Episode 120, or "The Worst Episode Ever."

Everything falls apart in this episode. Names can't be spoken properly, events that never happened are remembered, and Nick can't accept that he's wrong.

Also, they reviewed Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Monster House, and Jersey Boys.

Get it here or stream it below!

The Void Zone Episode 119, or "How The West Got Better, But Didn't Influence Nick."

In this exciting episode of the Void Zone, the guys debate the validity of genre-bending, whether or not there be gay Vikings, and how Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez are not the same person.

Also, they reviewed Once Upon A Time in the West, From Dusk Till Dawn, and How to Train Your Dragon 2.

Get it here! Or stream it below!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Void Zone Episode 118, or "Gasping for air while you sob doesn't mean you like the movie any more."

As the guys make fun of teenage girls sob their eyes out at a certain new movie, Melanie schools everyone in the art of adaptation.

Also, they reviewed Legend of Drunken Master, The Fault in Our Stars, and Edge of Tomorrow.

Get it here or stream it below!

And special thanks to Melanie for appearing on the show to talk some John Green with us.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Void Zone Episode 117 or, "There's Korea... And then there's Not-Korea."

As debate about Korean cinema rages on, individuals (one actually, and his name is Steven) bad mouth John Green, Brit bad mouths everyone else, and Nick just wants to go home.

In addition, all three reviewed such movies as Thérèse, The Host (the Korean one, not that other one) and A Million Ways to Die in the West. Actually, those are the only three movies they reviewed.

Get the episode here! Or listen to the embedded audio below.