In a year of big-budget science fiction films from some of the most well-known directors on the planet, you might not think one of the most highly anticipated upcoming films would be the first English-language film from a South Korean filmmaker, or that the movie would be about a speeding train in a post-ice age world. But Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer is high on the Giant Freakin’ Robot staff’s list of must-see films of the year, and the above animated prequel only has us jonesing for more of what looks to be the year’s most interesting post-apocalyptic tale. And from how early reviews are sounding, we’ll be overjoyed with the result.
Directed by Se-Yun Ko, the animated prequel sets up the dark and depressing world of the film quite impressively, not going too far into detail in its damning of humanity due to our unending betrayal of the planet through global warming. And there’s no need to explain science when you can just show the entire planet turning into a huge ice ball. (Arctic Blast, anyone?) The short is told from the point of view of Yoon, whose father is on board the train. I’m going out on a limb here, but I doubt her father is played by Chris Evans.
Granted, the actual animation is pretty slight, and much of the video takes still scenes and brings the camera through them, offering up just as much depth as the film itself will offer, if not more. Yes, I’m speculating. But it all looks very pristine and beautiful, especially once everything freezes over. I like how the ticking clock becomes a central image, something like the Doomsday Clock, but this one is closer to midnight than just six minutes away. I also enjoyed seeing the Snowpiercer train completely demolish all the frozen bodies in its path. It’s quite unsettling to see that kind of darkness shown so matter-of-factly. Train don’t care about no human popsicles.
So what about these early reviews? Variety’s Scott Foundas calls the film “enormously ambitious, visually stunning and richly satisfying,” and describes it as an emotionally somber character-building flick that has “flashes of hope, and a steady infusion of Bong’s dark, quirky humor.” Twitch’s Pierce Conran, meanwhile, calls it a “demented and stunning thrillride,” as well as “one of the most dystopian films we’ve seen in quite some time,” with a “narrative almost completely bereft of melodrama.” I’m salivating icicles over here!
Because there is no real justice in the world, Snowpiercer still doesn’t have an official release date here in the U.S., while it releases on its South Korean home turf on August 1. Check out the film’s trailer below, and maybe take an extra blanket to bed tonight.