Both movies boast progressive themes in their DNA, including class warfare rhetoric, universal health care, open borders and global warming.
While “Elysium” collapsed under the weight of those talking points, “Snowpiercer” soars thanks to superior filmmaking and a palpable sense of fun.
The latter film’s two-disk set, available Oct. 21 on Blu-ray, finds director Bong Joon-ho (“The Host”) exploring a new take on the post-apocalyptic genre.
The earth is turned into an icy abyss thanks to an attempt to battle global warming gone awry. Now, the last members of humanity live aboard a train circling the globe. All is not well on said train, since some travelers enjoy luxurious accommodations while others live in squalor.
Those poor souls survive on inky black protein bars, while the upper classes dine on more refined fare.
Chris Evans plays Curtis, a member of the oppressed willing to give his life to fight the societal imbalance. He leads a rag-tag army against the train’s security goons, personified by the unctuous Minister Mason (Tilda Swinton sporting garish fake teeth).
Can Curtis inspire a rebellion? Will Mason’s lackeys maintain order at all costs? And why is there a hole big enough for an arm to go through on the side of the train?
Based on the French graphic novel “Le Transperceneige,” “Snowpiercer” is a triumph of artistry over the soap box, that rare movie where an extreme point of view doesn’t diminish the storytelling.
Joon-ho’s endlessly inventive tale veers from black comedy to the truly horrifying, bullying over that class warfare mishmash. The strong supporting cast, including Ed Harris, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer and John Hurt, lend prestige to a movie that occasionally feeds us government cheese.
Only in the film’s waning moments does the director lose his grip on the material, boosting the body count without an equal dramatic jolt.
The extras, most of which are found on the second disk, include a documentary on the film’s creation by Jesus Castro-Ortega, We also get “The Birth of Snowpiercer,” a peek at the key characters, interviews with stars Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton and concept art galleries.
The latter offers an exceptional glimpse into the visual cues behind the film, while the star interviews offer little beyond praise for the cast and crew.
An animated prologue fills in some narrative gaps about why the earth turned into an ice brick.
“It’s the end of the tyranny that is global warming,” a melodramatic newsman announces as news of a plan to bring the earth’s temperature back to normal is launched.
DID YOU KNOW: Tilda Swinton says she partly based Minister Mason on Margaret Thatcher along with Hitler, Silvio Berluconi and Gaddafi..