Why We Hate the Prequel Trilogy

Last year, remember how traffic felt a little lighter on December 16, 2016? Or how there were a few less colleagues in the cubicle next to you crunching away on their Doritos? Or how our nations GDP dipped three points because everyone stayed home.

No, it was not because of the approaching holidays. No, it was not because of the wet winter weather gripping both coasts. It was because Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was released in theaters and America took a collective national sick day as the hardcore Star Wars faithful, casual fans of nerd culture, and the allies of geeks everywhere took a day to visit a galaxy far, far away.

Why do I remind you of this? Because on Friday, December 15, 2017 this will all happen again. This time, in response to the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Sci-fi writers and filmmakers, storytellers and adventure seekers; we all love Star Wars. Lucas succeeded in achieving his goal – creating stories to inspire the generations which he feared were growing up without myth. The latest films, created following the post-Disney acquisition, despite their imitativeness and serious flaws, have been met with fanfare and praise. We can expect Star Wars fans to feel the same way about the upcoming Last Jedi film – compete and total praise.

But sometimes, I wonder why? Why are Star Wars fans so quick to praise the sequels to the original trilogy, while simultaneously condemning the prequel trilogy? The very prequel trilogy which directly tie into the original trilogy as envisioned by the creator of Star Wars. Yes, neither series is as good as the original; but both have their shortcomings and successes. Why do Star Wars fans hate the prequel films so much, especially given the gross failures of the most recent films?

Spoilers throughout.

Now, before I start dissecting Star Wars, I have to acknowledge the predicament that Lucas found himself in as a storyteller. It must be incredibly difficult telling a story to an audience, when they already know the ending. We all hate sitting through jokes we know the punchlines too, it is the same thing with feature films. So, when moments feel forced – such as the faux romance between Anakin and Padme in Attack of the Clones – they are indeed forced. We all knew Obi-Wan would fail to train Anakin. We all knew Anakin would succumb to the dark side. We knew Palatine would rise to power and crush the Jedi. With such crucial elements, pre-determined, it is understandable that the prequel trilogy feels so deprived of genuine character choice.

Lucas was also tasked with the impossible task of topping Star Wars; films which changed cinema and truly set the bar for generations of filmmakers. The expectations set by the original trilogy are unmatchable. This was one of the factors which prevented other talent filmmakers from helping Lucas see his vision through (something which substantially aided him in the production of the original trilogy).

I understand that subpar dialogue and an oversaturation of CGI did not help the prequel films win any fans. Yes, of course there is the Jar Jar issue as well. In the defense of Lucas, he has always maintained that Star Wars was for kids – perhaps Jar Jar is evidence of that. I want to mention these things just so they are mentioned, but instead let’s focus on the story components which are the failures of the series.

Now, I personally believe that the prequel trilogy has a number of things that were done right. We got three films full of Jedi mind trick, force powers, and epic lightsaber battles. These are some of our favorite aspects of the original trilogy, and we get the chance to experience these elements further. We experience the history of the Universe; watching the technological evolution of our favorite vehicles. We see some of our favorite Star Wars characters young, spry, and in their primes. We see the Obi-Wan and Anakin fight we have always dreamed of seeing, and we get to see the most infamous battle in the history of the Galaxy, the Clone Wars, something really only alluded to within the original films and Expanded Universe. So why do we hate the prequel saga so much? Personally, I believe it comes down to three major flaws.

1. The character of Anakin Skywalker.

The first of which is Anakin Skywalker, and the character’s short comings are more than just poor casting. Anakin is never the badass we expect him to be based on Obi-Wan’s descriptions of him in A New Hope. Instead, we are presented with a whiney-baby of a hero who bemoans the lack of responsibility he has yet to earn, and never earns. While attempts are made to show the character as a gifted swordsman and pilot, it is unnatural and in every instance, seems to come at the expense of Obi-Wan’s own competence instead of the Anakin’s natural ability. The Clone Wars television series greatly corrects this misstep, by portraying the character in more heroic ways, but it would have been nice to see this in cinema.

We never see that character truly fall from grace. Anakin is presented as the hope of the Jedi Order – the mysterious child with the highest midi-chlorian count ever. Instead of being seduced be the dark side of the force; he seems to simply choose the Sith over his fellow Jedi out of his teenage angst and boredom. To make matters worse, Lucas attempts to reinforce his apparent lack of motivation with some lackluster dialogue line from Anakin where he describes how from his position “the Jedi are evil.”

Nice try George, but we’re not buying it.

An Anakin Skywalker with a little more Michael Corleone to him, where we seem him change into the very things he was never meant to be, could really have done wonders for the trilogy. Or we needed a real Harvey Dent moment where everything he believed in – everything we believed in – is destroyed, and we learn he simply does not have the fortitude we though he had to hold on just a little bit longer. Perhaps if Padme had died earlier in Revenge of the Sith, we could have even seen that. That is what we wanted, and that is what we expected since we first learned that Darth Vader was Luke’s father in The Empire Strikes Back.

The character of Anakin (as presented in film), could have been redeemed in the eyes of fans, had the prequel trilogy ended with an epic Lord Vader scene, something akin to the Vader scene in Rogue One. That scene, with Vader light-sabering-the-crap out of rebel soldiers, would have rounded out the trilogy better than the rigor mortis inflicted Vader bemoaning the death of Padme with his metallic wail.

2. The lack of a B.A.M.F. Villain.

On the subject of Darth Vader, the second major problem, is the lack of a strong antagonist. In storytelling, the best heroes are the foils of powerful, motivated villains. The original Star Wars creates one of the greatest villains in the history of cinema. He is the envy of all other cinema villains. In A New Hope we are introduced to the intimidating and sinister Lord Vader. The physical manifestation of fear. He is powerful, mysterious, with a commanding screen presence. He wears a cape. He chokes people. Total bad-ass. In The Empire Strikes Back, we fully experience his ominous ruthlessness; and the range of his Sith powers. He kills his own officers, blocks blaster fire with his hands, and cuts the hand off his only son. Finally, in The Return of the Jedi, we uncover the missing pieces of Vader’s own past and we get to see the man behind his mask. We learn that his son Luke was correct and that somewhere deep within the evil Darth Vader, goodness still lives.

Yet, the prequel trilogy has no antagonist with Vader’s credibility. For that matter, the prequel trilogy lacks an antagonist with consistency. I believe that the primary flaw is the premature death of Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace. With his sinister appearance and a meager two lines worth of dialogue, he is a character shrouded in mystery. By the time of his ambiguous death at the end Episode 1, we have not learned much about the character beyond his use of a double-bladed lightsaber. Lucas was well on his way to crafting a character with truly Vader-like-aspirations.

Then we get Darth Tyranus, who leave much to be desired. Darth Maul’s “replacement” in Episode II, he is little more than an old man with a scratchy voice and crooked lightsaber. Lucas attempts to craft a compelling backstory – a few insignificant lines about his past as a Jedi – but as an audience we really find nothing interesting about him. While the character of Darth Maul earns our respects for his chops with a lightsaber when the guy fights two Jedi at once; the fights scenes with Tyranus are lacking, often leading us in disbelief that the old curmudgeon is able to fare as well as he does. In fact, by beating Obi-Wan twice and Yoda once, he does so only the expense of the competencies of the two Jedi Masters, not as a testament to his skill.

While the character of General Grievous is an unexpected turn from the Sith Lords of the other films, he appears too late in the series to garner any serious attachment. His alien race, his rank of general, his collection of lightsabers, and his pneumonic-cough, tease us a potentially interesting character. Yet, too many questions are left unanswered, and he has far too little screen time to actually matter.
I think Lucas really missed the mark here. Darth Maul had the makings of a truly sinister villain, and it would have been wonderful to explore his background further through the prequel trilogy. Had Lucas made Darth Maul returned in Episode II, donning new mechanical legs and a serious grudge against Obi-Wan, we could have had something really captivating.

3. We all love Han Solo.

Finally, the Star Wars prequel trilogy suffers from the lack an independent thinking, a true rogue, someone in the mold of that “scruffy` scoundrel” Han Solo. More importantly, Solo plays an irreplaceable role in the original story. First, in A New Hope, he is really the only unpredictable character in the film. He has no problem playing by his own rules and acting independently and selfishly. If Lucas had followed his original story line and followed through with killing Solo in The Return of the Jedi, the growth of Solo’s character would have been demonstrated his final character arc by sacrificed himself for his friends and their cause.

In the prequel trilogy, all the characters easily seem to fall into a few camps, with few of them truly acting selfish enough to put their own well-being a head of the greater plot objectives. There are few character who are true radicals, playing by their own set of rules. Solo’s brash, cocky, ready-fire-aim attitude is the perfect foil to the calm and calculated behavior of the Jedi; and could have really ratcheted up interpersonal conflict in the films.

Han Solo also grounds the films for the audience; something he does in The Force Awakens as well. He alone, is the one character in the Star Wars trilogy who can smirk at the ridiculousness of everything. He acknowledges the things other characters seem to take for granted – planet sized space stations, the all-powerful force, and how “swords” best blasters in combat. This making the story acceptable and dare I even say – passable – to audiences. Solo shares our confusion and skepticism.

At times, things are almost too heavy for a Star Wars film in the prequel films as the story gets too caught up in the politics of the galactic civil war. A Solo type character could have brought some levity to the prequel’s, as Solo repeatedly does. His wit makes us laugh, and keeps the grand galactic adventure from ever becoming all too serious. With Solo appearing in The Force Awakens, and with Finn poised to become Solo 2.0, the new trilogy seems to have insured itself a way to keep grounding the film in fun.

All these failures of the prequel trilogy may still manifest themselves as failures of the sequel trilogy. The story is not yet complete, character arcs are not finished, and we really have no idea where things will go or how it will end. For all we know, it is possible that in three years we may look back on the entire sequel trilogy with nothing but disgust and disdain?

We need to give Lucas credit where his credit is due. As our favorite character Yoda taught us, “Do or do not. There is no try.” Lucas did finally make the prequel trilogy he alluded to in 1977, that is an admirable fact in its own right. In doing so he took us to new worlds and showed us new characters from the expansive Star Wars Universe we thought we knew so well. Realistically, the prequel trilogy never had a chance of standing up to the original. In the same way, we know that the dozens of Star Wars films to come will never truly capture the sentiments of the original either. The intangibles of the originals; manifested largely through emotional nostalgia, can never be replicated. However, when we try to divorce emotion for the equation, and look at pure story, there is abundant room for improvement.

The older the prequel trilogies get, the more nostalgia may begin to set in. Maybe fans will be more willing to evaluate the films independently, celebrating their merits instead of solely condemning their short comings. The real question which remains is, in the years to come, what feelings will die hard fans hold towards many successive trilogies? I hope that The Last Jedi is a welcomed addition to Star Wars canon, but fear we will have to wait until the final addition to the new trilogy before we can full evaluate the successes and failures of its story.

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Top Ten Fake “Transformers: The Last Knight” Spoilers

You don’t have to wait until June 21st to get the inside scoop on Transformers: The Last Knight

10 - It's come to this: To get parts in non-Star Wars movies, C3PO has to do nude scenes now.
10 – It’s come to this: To get parts in non-Star Wars movies, C3PO has to do nude scenes now.

9 - John Goodman reprises his voice role as Hound because damn it, he's going to make 9 movies a year whether you like it or not.
9 – John Goodman reprises his voice role as Hound because damn it, he’s going to make 9 movies a year whether you like it or not.

8 - Watch as Sir Anthony Hopkins whisper acts his way through another paycheck.
8 – Watch as Sir Anthony Hopkins whisper acts his way through another paycheck.

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moonharsh

MPI Founder and Robert A. Heinlein

MoonisharshThor Halvorssen, founder of Moving Picture Institute (MPI), has just been named as a producer for Twentieth Century Fox production of Robert A. Heilein’s novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.  Bryan Singer (Usual Suspects, X-Men) is attached to direct as well.  Halvorssen’s work on human rights by airdropping films and educational materials into heavily censored North Korea, through his Human Rights Foundation have made headlines in world wide news outlets.

Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966) was the recipient of the Hugo Award for best science fiction novel in 1967 and is often cited as one the best novels to promote individual liberty and a free society. An early democrat activist who worked for Upton Sinclair’s Democratic bid for California Governor in 1934, Heinlein later considered himself a libertarian with a strong belief in the importance of self-reliance and human freedom.

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Love In Time of Science: “Interstellar” vs “Theory of Everything”

unnamedWhy on earth are we comparing a space science-fiction epic with a period romance melodrama  you ask? Simple: both Interstellar and Theory of Everything came out this weekend trying to tread the thematic tight rope between human story and scientific ideas.

For those of you who don’t know, Interstellar tells the story of a former astronaut-turned-farmer, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), who travels to the edges of space on a dangerous mission to save humanity. Theory of Everything, on the other unnamed-1hand, chronicles the tumultuous romantic relationship between famed Cambridge physicist, Stephen Hawking, and the love of his life, Jane Wilde (Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, respectively).

Firstly: you should go see both. The performances alone are reason enough to justify a ticket for Theory of Everything, with Redmayne’s Hawking being the stuff that Oscar gold is made of. Likewise, Interstellar boasts one of the most immersive story telling experiences since Avatar, marked by stunning visuals and performances that manage to keep up – Jessica Chastain’s brooding turn as Cooper’s estranged daughter is particularly compelling.

unnamed-2At the core of these widely different films though is a single thematic concern: the interplay of science and love. Both films spend a considerable amount of their running time examining love in the context of scientific pursuit.

For Interstellar, this concern manifests itself primarily in the relationship between Cooper and his daughter Murph, who is both his reason for going and the source of his guilt for doing so. At its most cosmic, Interstellar asks the question of whether or not love can transcend the barriers of space and time, and if so, what that love looks like. On its most practical level though, it examines the conflict between one’s duty to science (and by extension, humanity) and one’s dedication to their family. Ultimately, without giving away too many details, the film’s answers are somewhat overly sentimental – resulting in an emotional resolution that is satisfactory though not perhaps as cathartic as the film’s director, Christopher Nolan, might have hoped.

unnamed-3Theory of Everything, though not dealing with love on such a macro scale, similarly examines if and how science and romance can co-exist. Ironically, it is not the physical handicap that presents the most obstacles to Stephen and Jane’s relationship, but rather Stephen’s academic pursuits and subsequent fame as physicist. In this way, the film questions whether the demands of science and one’s commitment to its tenants allow for a romantic relationship. The issue of the existence of God, for example, is one of particular importance to the couple who are divided along the lines of faith – Jane an Anglican Christian and Stephen an agnostic. Again without spoiling too much, Theory of Everything’s conclusion proffers quite satisfyingly that regardless of whether in science or in love – its the tangibles that count.

Part of the reason that Theory of Everything balances science and human emotion somewhat more convincingly than Interstellar would be perhaps because the film makes a point of not weighing itself down in the tech.

Interstellar, at its core, is about science in the context of love. Theory of Everything is about love in the context of science.

It’s this distinction that gives Theory of Everything the human edge over Interstellar. That’s not to say Interstellar’s human story isn’t compelling – its the very impetus of the film. But by its inherent nature as a space epic, Interstellar more interested in using its human elements to explore the larger questions of science than allowing them to take center stage.

Ultimately, both Theory of Everything and Interstellar ask big questions about love, science, and where we fit into all of it. And as stated before: both films are well worth the price of admission. But where Interstellar asks you to gaze up at the stars in wonder, Theory of Everything asks to train that same awe-inspired gaze at the person right next to you.

The One I Love & About Time: How Sci-Fi Is Saving The Rom-Com

It’s no secret that the Rom-Com has become a tired genre. With the notable exception of David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, there have been few straight romantic-comedies in recent years to make a significant cultural (and box-office) impact. On a more tangible level, the genre has simply become repetitive, relying on the same narrative tropes and comedic cliches that brought the rom-com to prominence back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. As much as we all might love When Harry Met Sally or Sleepless in Seattle, we moviegoers can only tolerate clones of these films for so long.

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Midnight in Paris

What, then, is left for the romantic-comedy, if audiences have become anesthetized to its charms and conventions? How can the genre reinvigorate itself in the face of movie-goers who have seemingly gone and seen it all? Like a noble family with an empty bank account, the rom-com has opted to marry itself off to another genre. And the results have been impressive (and surprising) to say the least. The suitor? Perhaps the most unlikely genre imaginable: the science-fiction film.

The union began in 2011 with Woody Allen’s time-warping wonder Midnight in Paris in which a discouraged writer inadvertently travels back to 1920’s Paris, encountering an enchanting Parisian art-lover along with the famed artists of the era. The film was a critical and box office hit, in part, because of its unorthodox, Twilight Zone-esque twist on the romantic comedy. The high profile success of the film has inspired a wave of similarly situated, sci-fi-rom-com hybrids that are breathing fresh life into a genre that has been weighed down by its own conventions and structures. Films like Warm Bodies or Safety Not Guaranteed for example, which have tentatively explored the realm between science fiction and romantic comedy (or in the case of Warm Bodies, romantic comedy in science fiction). Over the last year, however, this hybrid genre has come into its own right, solidifying its unique strengths as well as its position in the film market.

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The One I Love

Take, for instance, the recently released independent film The One I Love. Directed by first time director Charlie McDowell, the film follows an estranged couple, played by Mark Duplass and Elizabeth Moss, who go on a weekend trip to the Ojai Valley to try and reignite their passion for one another. Without spoiling too much (the film is still in theaters and everyone should go see it), the trip takes a dark, supernatural turn when the couple discover that their guest-house is not all that it appears to be.

It’s difficult to talk about the film without ruining its appeal, but it can safely be said that the film’s brilliance comes from the way in which it offers up certain conventions of the rom-com genre, asking both the audience and the film’s characters to decide whether the idealized narrative of the rom-com is ever actually in their the best interest. This examination is only made possible through the film’s bizarre, science-fiction-ified set-up.

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About Time

Another recent romantic-comedy hybrid would be 2013’s About Time, the story of an awkward English lawyer, Tim (Domhnall Gleeson), who learns that the men in his family have the uncanny ability to travel back in time. The film centers around Tim’s romance with the independent but adorable Mary (Rachel McAdams) and his fumbling attempts to use his ability to help shape the life that he dreams of having.

Rather than simply setting a romantic comedy within these unusual circumstances, the film utilizes its science-fiction elements to subvert the tropes of the rom-com itself. For example, Tim and Marry initially have the classic ‘meet cute’ introduction, in which the two share an adorable, chemistry-laden first encounter. This ‘meet cute’ however is inadvertently erased by Tim’s own meddling with time, resulting in a second, disastrous ‘first’ meeting that is anything but cute. By subverting this convention, as well as several others, About Time manages to inject fresh blood into a premise that has otherwise been played out – i.e. the awkward guy who just wants to get the girl. Interestingly, the film was written and directed by rom-com veteran Richard Curtis (Notting Hill, Love Actually), proving that the hybridization of the genre has moved out of just the independent film market and well into the mainstream.

If About Time and The One I Love are any indication, then sci-fi is shaping up to be the unlikely savior of the rom-com, reinvigorating the genre’s tired tropes and helping it reconnect with jaded audiences. Its almost ironic that the redemption of the romantic-comedy is playing out just like one of its own cliched plots: an unlikely couple, thrust together, learn to need one another. In this case,it’s one cliche we can all be happy about.

It was the Rise of the Dawn of the Earth All Along

Apocalyptic movies have a certain undying appeal. We like to see ourselves ripped away from our technology and tools while keeping just enough knowledge intact to know that we had them. It’s a take on the old humans against nature trope where nature, in this case, exists in opposition to humanity because of some previous accident or mistake; the recent spate of zombie-centered entertainment in the last few years is the most obvious example. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes adopts this zombie aesthetic with an interesting twist. The threat of nature doesn’t come from former humans, it comes from, in a way, proto-humans: apes.

unnamedLike zombie movies, our supremacy is destroyed by a virus. Ten years after Caesar (Andy Serkis) led his ape-kin to freedom in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the simian virus that gave apes their intelligence has wrecked human civilization. Most of humanity is dead; the survivors work to rebuild their cities. A colony of human survivors in former San Francisco, led by Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), desperately needs power. Salvation rests in a decrepit hydroelectric dam but Caesar’s hostile colony of apes stands in the way. Just as the two groups reach a tenuous peace, distrust on both sides splinters diplomatic solutions into the kindlings of a minor war. Presumably, whoever wins takes the throne of the dominant species.

This film could not exist without the use of visual effects. Rise of the Planet of the Apes suffered from inconsistent effects where the realism of the apes varied given the shot. This time around, the effects maintain an impressive level of quality. They have a weight and a history; they’ve cut  the world we know down to a haunting shadow. When characters are effects as in the case of this series (no, Mr. Serkis, I’m not endorsing your comments on digital makeup), the caliber and quality of effects the film boasts are crucial. And the effort does pay off for the apes. But the human performances are stale and lackluster in comparison. None of the characters have compelling reasons for their choices. They tell us of course why they do what they do, but it’s obvious the actors (with the possible exception of Oldman) don’t believe what they’re saying. When the first half of the movie uses characters to set the stage for the second half, this is a problem.

dawnoftheplanetoftheapesceasarJust as with the characters themselves, the human side of the story is not terribly complex: “humans are against apes in some form or another.” The conflict between Caesar and his lieutenant Koba (Toby Kebbell) provides a solid counterpoint to this homogeneity but it’s just not enough. Even if the characters were more dynamic, even if the conflict was more nuanced, the lingering questions about the nature of this post-apocalyptic world are never answered. In other words, the humans and the apes don’t feel like they’re part of the world revealed through the spectacular effects. They don’t really answer why war was inevitable. How the simians and humans diverged to be virtually unknown to each other in ten years is a mystery given their proximity. How the apes managed to build a city, to use guns, and to develop husbandry is equally confusing: after all, a capacity for intelligence isn’t a command of a given knowledge, especially when the undirected whims of curiosity haven’t realized that the knowledge exists to be discovered.

Now, for a movie dramatizing a struggle between humans and apes, you might say I’m being a bit picky. Maybe I am. But the accumulation of all these little cracks in the foundations of this silver screen universe is all the more necessary if such a fantastical situation is to be believed as fundamentally human. We can forgive errors in logic in our world because we rarely question the world’s premise; errors in an unfamiliar world’s premise source a much more acute pain. And this pain keeps Dawn of the Planet of the Apes from truly shining as anything more than a fun summer movie.

“Snowpiercer” Penetrates, Provokes and Gets Political

If you are a fan of the science fiction genre, then you probably became elated at the sight of the first trailer for Snowpiercer.  Although the trailer itself does not reveal too much, it tells us genre nerds just enough of what we need to know to become intrigued.  The set up is rather simple.

In a post-apocalyptic world, this little known phenomenon called “global warming” has taken mass effect, actually doing the exact opposite of warming the globe.  The entire planet has essentially been plunged into a new ice age, now covered in a freezing layer of snow and ice, making it uninhabitable.  Almost the entire population of Earth has been wiped out, and the few remaining survivors live aboard a futuristic train called…you guessed it…Snowpiercer.

DISCLAIMER: Spoilers ahead. Real life, major spoilers. Read at your own risk!

So now we have a somewhat intriguing, if not slightly lopsided, set up of our world.  Then comes the deep stuff.  Inside the train (the exact length of which is never specified) the varying cars are divided up by social class, the lowest of which reside in the tail-end of the train.  Naturally, the privileged live towards the front of the train.  The train is said to run on a “perpetual engine” that can never die, and said engine was created by the mysterious Wilford, a God-like figure whom is worshipped by those on the front of the train, and utterly loathed by those on the back.  Social allegories galore!

unnamedOne determined young man named Curtis (Chris Evans), living in the tail-end under the mentorship of an old man named Gilliam (John Hurt), is sick of his life feeding on nothing but gelatin-like protein bars (revealed to be made of something rather unmentionable).  He wants what the privileged have (Sushi).  He dreams of forcing his way to the front.  He initiates a rebellion with the help of some of the tail-enders, consisting of an excellent ensemble cast that includes Octavia Spencer, Jamie Bell and Ewen Bremner.

In order to make it through, they take into captivity Mason (Tilda Swinton), a bureaucratic cult-leader type who represents those from the front of the train and perhaps bows down the lowest to Wilford.  As the biggest source of comic relief, she is by far one of the most dynamic and entertaining characters and Swinton’s performance made the film that much more watchable.

As the group of scrappy tail-enders force their way towards the front, we as the audience are immersed in some truly magnificent action sequences and cinematography. For such a contained setting, director Bong Joon-ho was able to get very creative with the camerawork.  Not to mention the frozen world outside is very well done, creating a landscape that looks truly terrifying.

Upon reaching the very front of the train, where the perpetual engine presides, Curtis is finally able to confront Wilford (Ed Harris). Without spoiling too much, it is revealed that Curtis was essentially fooled into leading the rebellion, to be used as a sick way of population control for those in the tail-end.  As stated by Wilford, natural selection doesn’t work quickly enough on the train.

qdb0lpeziftf2pyc1zwdI will force myself to stop at this point, as there are many more twists revealed within the final act.  However, with all the aforementioned criticisms about a one-sided viewpoint being driven throughout the storyline of fairness and equality, the film is quite an experience in itself and it uses a lot of symbolism for life and redemption. As films go, it has a solid story and extremely well-written characters.  Of course, the ensemble cast never ceases to entertain amidst the 2-hour-plus runtime.  I never once found myself wondering when it would end.

All in all, “Snowpiercer” is definitely worth a view.  Although it was only given a limited theatrical release, it will be available on Video On Demand as of this Friday, July 11th.