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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
After a few recommendations: one from a rando co-worker, another from Boston Online Critics, and finally from Edgar Wright, the Gorehound just had to pursue this flick from the same director of the incredibly awesome, The Host (’06), Joon-ho Bong, and starring Captain America (i.e, Chris Evans). To say the least, the recommendations were worthy and this is indeed, is a good and goretastic film.
It’s a straight up sci-fi dystopian film, the results of global warming have taken hold. Life is isolated to a single train, divided by social classes based on their standing (lowest classes at the tail, highest classes near the front). Quite a novel concept to shove all of the human race onto a single train. The god of this train, Wilfred the Merciful, has created a sustainable system built on a malign practice which keep the human race afloat while all life on earth is uninhabitable. Obviously the lowest classes have had enough of this social inequality and decide to overtake the train.
That greenhouse car? Oh gosh, the Gorehound would love to live in that train section. All of the cars were distinctly different, in a way to explicitly show the ecological balance. It was quite disgusting to see the contrast from the crowded and windowless tail end to the wide open and free portion of the middle and front end. Though I ask, not expecting an answer, why is the ecological balance not questioned, but only the social balance is questioned? Is ecology easier to maintain and if so, why is there global warming? If the life on the train is supposed to be a clean slate, why is the environmental-sustainability achieved but the social inequality so disparaging?
There is certainly violence and gore. This is no PG-13 movie, and for that I congratulate you. There are beatings throughout that are intense, but worthy. These passengers are certainly fighting for a reason. We see the cruelty and apparent secrecy that the upper class plays onto the lower. The pace is fast and there are few slow portions. Unfortunately, there is little intriguing dialogue. One of the best parts about these types of movies with few sets is that it allows each character’s diverse personalities to shine through. We are caring less about the environment in which they are in, and focus on other aspects of film. Movies like Devil (’10) and Exam (’09), which have very little scenery are excellent examples of how limiting the scenery can bring out personalities spectacularly.
All the characters were varied and I appreciated the two Korean characters the most for they tended to be so much more unique. The story behind Captain America didn’t have any impact. It would have had much more impact had it been a flashback, rather than a verbal story behind why he is bad person and doesn’t deserve anything good. One question that really bothered me was what prompted the Korean girl, Yona (Ah-sung Ko), to lift up the floor panel? This was critical moment and there was no apparent reason for her doing so. It’s like walking onto a hotel floor blindfolded and immediately knowing where your room is.
All in all, the film succeeds. It’s much more serious Hunger Games (with a lot less attractive people) that provokes the viewer into questioning humanity. Unfortunately, for anyone who has read Orwell, Bradbury, Le Guin, or any other sci-fi mind, this idea has already been done before. The idea is still fresh and is always welcome in cinema, especially when well-executed. Add something new to the story and make this prettier and you’ll get your last star. 4/5