The 5 Best Movies of 2016

5.) Kubo and the Two Stringskubo-main_0

It’s an animated movie with hutzpah; something that isn’t widely promulgated these days. Featuring beautiful art direction, great music and a narrative containing serious, mature themes that will resonate with child and adult alike, Kubo is a gem in the modern day animated dirt mine.

4.) The Accountantmv5bndc5mzg2ntyxnv5bml5banbnxkftztgwmjq2odawote-_v1_uy1200_cr9006301200_al_

This is on here because the first hour and a half was a remarkably delicate, thoughtful handling of a sensitive subject matter interlaced with guns, powerful flashback sequences and (against all odds) interesting mathematical content. Riveting stuff. Not to mention the second half wasn’t that bad either.

 

 

3.) Hacksaw Ridgeimg

I don’t normally watch WWII period pieces, but when I do I make sure Mel Gibson’s directing ’em.

 

 

 

 

1.) All I See Is You and The Autopsy of Jane Doe

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It’s a tie! While I like All I See Is You just a tad more because it speaks to my experiences in relationships (I know, yikes) and operates on a level entirely above and beyond any other romantic drama I’ve seen, the reality of the matter is that it’s a more flawed movie than The Autopsy of Jane Doe. Jane Doe accomplishes exactly what it sets out to without a single misstep. In any case, they’re both horror masterpieces and my movies of 2016.

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Review of “Kubo and the Two Strings”

It’s got all the heart of a Disney animated film but with twice the balls. Go see it.kubo-main_0.jpg

Kubo‘s story is one of tragedy, growing up, loss and all the usual jazz. Sad origins, imminent threats, etc.; you’ve seen it all before. But it’s done so damn well here that you can’t not respect it. Especially when it gets dark, which it does. Some of the scenes and their respective implications really dig deeper than any recent Pixar film had the guts to go, not to mention some blatantly visually spooky stuff crops up in the film as well. Good stuff.

Beyond that, the animation is beautiful and the soundtrack is phenomenal, especially Regina Spektor’s cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” There’s really nothing I can fault the movie with beyond the occasional pacing hiccup, and that’s a relatively minor flaw by the time all’s said and done. So, in conclusion: why are you still reading this? Kubo‘s only going to be in theatres for a little longer. Get going! And bring the whole family. It’s magical for everyone, young and old.

Review of “Ex Machina” (Spoiler Discussion Below Review)

There was Chappie last week. Then there was Ex Machina yesterday. Then there is Avengers: Age of Ultron on Thursday. The artificial intelligence damning humanity plot-line is pretty popular these days, it seems. ex-machina-poster

Here’s the thing: out of those three movies I listed, Ex Machina’s probably going to be the best one. It is good, really good, and keeps getting better in my head the more I think about it. Not that it’s revolutionary or anything, but just because it’s done really well and knows what it wants to be right down to every single word of the screenplay.

Without spoiling anything yet, as there is a LOT to spoil, the movie really only stars four characters, only three of which have speaking roles. So, in short, this entire project hinged on them being great. And, well, they were. They were phenomenal, all three of them. Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander absolutely NAILED their parts, and Domhnall Gleeson was great as well, if not quite on par with the other two.

The movie is deceptively complex. When you walk out, you could’ve understood the entire plot from start to finish without having to really stretch your brain, but there are so many deeper meanings and allegories hidden beneath the surface that once you start thinking about it you could easily go for hours just brainstorming the subliminal messages of Ex Machina. And that’s it’s best feature. While you’re there, it’s a great time, but when a movie can implant itself in your mind afterwards on a consistent basis is a really special thing, and it’s something this movie has.

That’s not to say that while you’re there things aren’t special as is. Based off the plot alone, you can tell this was a British movie solely on how the story isn’t apologetic or watered down for the mainstream. There are uncomfortable elements of the film and some very disturbing notions passed around, but the movie doesn’t pull any punches in favor of being more accepted. It goes where it wants to and hopes you’ll be along for the ride.

In short, if you’re in the market for an extremely solid movie about artificial intelligence and the complications that accompany such a technological advance, as well as an extremely interesting study on the role of sex (both the act itself and male versus female conflict) in society and why we strive to invent and create, I can’t recommend Ex Machina enough.

SPOILERS START HERE.

Just some small but heavy spoiler-filled footnotes I want to share and discuss, in case you’ve already seen Ex Machina and just want to hear someone else’s thoughts and observations.

Firstly, that scene with the Japanese robot screaming “let me out” and clawing towards the security camera until she ends up wearing down the machinery that makes up her synthetic hands reducing them to circuit-stubbles, WOW. That scene is one of the most glorious and haunting things I’ve ever seen in a movie. So good.

Secondly, I’ve come to think that this movie is one big nod at women, and their role in society. Oscar Isaac’s character only creates AIs for sex and to create the perfect companion to essentially replace women with, one that will never disagree with their owner. In this sense, women are just an object for sex and other basic functions of companionship, and suffer a form of slavery. Hence why Ava betrays both her male captor and her male liberator, realizing that they’d both try and do the same thing to her in the end if circumstances were flipped. I’ve never been big on in-your-face “equality” movements, but this movie certainly casts a valuable lens on the subject of feminism without coming off as preachy.

Thirdly, there’s so many nice, topical touches in this movie. Like Isaac’s character using Gleeson’s porn searches to create the perfect woman for him in Ava, or the usage of all of the world’s digital communications data being used to create an indistinguishable synthetic human face. A lot of cool ideas are explored. Same thing goes for the discussions on sex and why we invent stuff as humans. The script for that conversation between Isaac and Gleeson is so good that I can barely remember any of it, let alone attempt to paraphrase it and do it justice. But it’s just such a smart conversation.

Fourth, there’s one small consistency issue in the movie that bothers me. If these robots are strong enough to have full-on sex without any of their synthetic skin tearing or any wear at all, then why does a single metal baton swipe from Isaac rip an entire robot’s jaw off, machinery and all, like it was tissue paper? I doubt he made their upper jaws less resistant than their synthetic vaginas.

Fifth, and final, is the single opportunity I’m surprised this movie didn’t take. While it wasn’t predictable, per-say, there was a point where I thought “maybe the movie’s about to go this way, oh shit!” and then it went another way and I was still happy, but left wondering why they didn’t go the way I’m about to explain. The scene where Gleeson’s character is slicing his wrist open to check that he’s still human (really good mind game on the movie’s part, by the way, at this point I was paranoid enough to check myself, hence why I thought the twist I’m about to mention was going to occur), I was thinking that maybe there wouldn’t be blood, and in fact we’d find out that he himself was an AI. We’d find out that he was Isaac’s character’s first fully functioning model, and that Isaac had released him into the wild years ago to see if he could fully function in society, then brought him back to home base, hence why he won the contest in the first place to visit Isaac. Maybe then it’d go on to be that this was Isaac’s final Turing test, that testing his AI against humans wasn’t enough, that he wanted to test his AI against another AI of his as the ULTIMATE Turing test, to see if he could fake an AI into believing it was interacting with a human. That shit would’ve blown my mind had it been in the movie, but then again, I was the one who thought it up so in a way I’m happy the movie went in its own direction.

Gamerrob’s Top Movies of 2014

It’s been a good year for movies, to say the least.

Honorable Mention: Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesTeenage_Mutant_Ninja_Turtles_film_July_2014_poster
Some movies get unfairly dumped on, and TMNT was one of them. Given hate solely due to the fact that Michael Bay was the producer, this movie flopped critically. But personally, I liked it quite a bit. It got the turtles’ chemistry down perfectly, and was exactly what a fun summer blockbuster Ninja Turtles movie should be.

15.) Neighborsfile_116916_0_neighborsheader
Frat party movies aren’t generally “top movies of ___” material, but Seth Rogen has made it happen. This movie is funny, very funny, and manages to not only deliver a weirdly heartfelt story but also make Zac Efron relevant again. This movie is what’s going to keep him from turning into the usual post-Disney crowd.

14.) The Maze Runnerfb-share
There are two movies on this list that got on here due solely to how well their settings were developed, and The Maze Runner is one of them. It’s got one of the most well-visualized set-pieces of the year with its titular maze, and it’s one hell of a ride seeing the kids navigate it.

13.5) (EDIT) Foxcatcher

Having seen this days after 2014 ended, I couldn’t really put it in here. But, here it is anyway. Because it’s that damn good. I’ll never want to see it again, but for a traumatic one-timer, it’s super solid.

13.) Exodus: Gods and Kings2390210800000578-0-image-5_1417137701570
Ancient Egypt has never looked better than in Exodus. Couple that with a well-told story featuring an impressively bearded Christian Bale, and there’s no way to deny this movie’s greatness. Seriously though, it’s the first time a “biblical epic” has actually felt epic. Noah can suck it.

12.) NightcrawlerNightcrawler 3
Nightcrawler isn’t the most impressive movie, but it’s a tight as hell ride where every second of film counts. That sort of precision story telling coupled with Jake Gyllenhaal’s unspeakably amazing performance as Lou Bloom make this a movie worthy of all the praise it has been receiving. If Jake doesn’t win the Oscar for best actor, I’m fucking done with the academy. And they are already on thin ice with me as things stand.

11.) The Interviewdownload
Two Seth Rogen comedies this year, both of which happen to be movie-of-the-year contenders. Needless to say, it’s been a good year for comedy, and this movie had tons of it. Franco and Rogen, the dream duo, team up to take down Kim Jong-un and it’s every bit as glorious as the hype surrounding it made it out to be. I really, genuinely liked The Interview. Almost every joke resonated with me, and that’s rare for this kind of a low-brow flick.

10.) Snowpiercer (2014 U.S. release)Snowpiercer-2
This is the other set-piece driven film I mentioned earlier. The titular train, Snowpiercer, makes for the coolest setting I’ve seen in years, and the action aboard it makes for a gritty and fun, if slightly full of itself adventure. Not to mention we get to see Chris Evans ham it up more than in Captain America, and that’s always good for a laugh. It’s also the first real foreign film I’ve been able to sink my teeth into, and I’ll now be paying closer attention to Bong Joon-Ho’s work.

9.) Non-StopNST_31_5_Promo_4C_4F.indd
What can I say? I had fun with Liam Neeson’s plane thriller. While it’s only good for your first time through, it keeps you guessing right up until the overblown finale. It was a very well-done thriller with more than enough tension to keep me invested.

8.) Big Hero 6Big_Hero_6_(film)_poster
While this movie dropped the ball in terms of unique plot twists, it was still one of the best by-the-numbers Disney animated films I’ve seen in a long time… namely, since these same guys made Wreck-it Ralph. Disney Animation Studios is on a roll.

7.) Edge of Tomorrowdownload
Tom Cruise being an action star doesn’t have to be an ironic statement anymore, as he’s back and better than ever in All You Need Is Kill’s movie adaptation. The fact that this movie is pretty much one day constantly repeating yet never becomes stale is a testament to its fantastic storytelling.

6.) InterstellarMV5BMjIxNTU4MzY4MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzM4ODI3MjE@._V1__SX924_SY512_
It would’ve been number one had the final twenty minutes not existed. Otherwise, Interstellar is up there with Christopher Nolan’s other acclaimed works. From its fantastic writing to its expert cast, there’s a whole lot to love in this 2014 space odyssey.

5.) RobocopROBOCOP
This was a fantastic movie, and I guarantee if you ask someone not blinded by nostalgia they’d agree. It’s a touching story of a man torn between mind and machine, and seeing him get torn away from his family as he becomes a mere product to a corporation is surprisingly deep stuff for what marketed itself as a cheesy action flick. It more than stands on its own two feet, being the Robocop this generation deserves.

4.) Captain America: The Winter SoldierCaptain_America_The_Winter_Soldier_Teaser_poster_2
Like everyone else has already said, it’s probably Marvel’s best superhero film since 2008’s Iron Man. Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford and Sebastian Stan all kick major ass in this big budget action-thriller, and it’s great to see Marvel exploring new, exciting sub-genres with their established franchises.

3.) The Amazing Spider-Man 2The_Amazing_Spider-Man_2_(film)_banner
Now we’re getting into the best of the best, the top three. TASM2 is on here because of my philosophy towards entertainment products with established characters: if it manages to do certain aspects of the character such justice that I couldn’t imagine it getting any better EVER, then those positive attributes negate the bad entirely. I had this same feeling with a Sonic game, Sonic Unleashed, which similar to TASM2 nailed a lot of things but had major flaws, flaws which most refused to overlook. TASM2, in my opinion, manages to deliver the absolute BEST cinematic Spider-man scenes of all time, from the beautifully shot web-slinging to the coolest Spidey vs. Electro fight I could never have imagined. These two things alone are done so well that they negate the overabundance of story threads and plotholes, in my eyes.

2.) The JudgeMV5BMTcyNzIxOTIwMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzE0NjQwMjE@._V1_SX214_AL_
It’s a family drama, something I’m not too fond of. But it’s done so well, with such expert-level commentary on parent-children relationships that you can’t help but tag along with Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall on their harrowing path of reviving an all-but-dead father-son bond. Not to mention it’s got some of the tensest scenes of the year, managing to beat out Non-Stop in terms of nail-biting quality.

1.) Dawn of the Planet of the ApesMV5BMTgwODk3NDc1N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTc1NjQwMjE@._V1_SX214_AL_
DotPotA does a hell of a lot right. It has the absolute best CGI I’ve ever seen in a film coupled with some of the best motion-capture work to date, complete with a twisting story that takes reminds you original plots still exist. And the one thing above all else it nails is its primary focus on the apes, rather than the humans. If Michael Bay had taken this one lesson and applied it to Transformers, that the audience is there to see the CGI creatures and not the human actors, that series would’ve gone down a much better path. But we’re not here to bash that series, we’re here to celebrate the Planet of the Apes series and its downright astonishing revival. This is the movie I will fight with friends, family, enemies and even complete strangers over, the movie I will defend night and day as the best film of 2014.

Review of “Exodus: Gods and Kings”

Back in my earlier post I said I’d buy two tickets’ worth just to spite the protesters of this movie. Turns out I did even better, I had two people accompany me. So take that! And my efforts were not in vain, as Exodus: Gods and Kings is a fantastic movie in its own right and easily the best biblical epic of the year (with its massive competition of… Noah).

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Just like Noah, Exodus takes the stance of God being a massive dick to humanity up until the somewhat happy ending. And while in Noah God acted like a bit of a temper tantrum-filled child, in Exodus that is literally who he is, an angry, mouthy boy. It’s an interesting design choice and while it might offend certain people, it definitely illustrates that if any of the events of the Old Testament are to be believed, then we cannot collectively ignore the fact that God was a pretty bad entity on more than one occasion.

Another good design choice was to not make this a conversion movie. God really isn’t the absolute focus of this movie, it’s more about faith and the concept of going through with something that you can’t be one-hundred percent sure of. And that goes for anything, which is why I thought this movie was so good, is that it could speak to all of us regardless of religion or cultural background. For example, when I go to see a movie, I go to it because I have faith that it will be good. I cannot know for sure until I’ve paid for the ticket, sat in the seat, watched the movie and ultimately invested my time and effort in something that may not amount to anything at all. Sometimes that faith is misplaced (Transformers 4), but what keeps me coming back is that more often than not that faith pays off, such as in the case of Exodus.

I have some minor nitpicks, but they are just that: minor. This movie is fantastic. Ridley Scott does the setting of ancient Egypt complete justice, making it a grand, scenic locale with some of the best visual effects in the industry (not Dawn of the Planet of the Apes good, but still top-notch). Not to mention that he actually used real frogs for the frog plague scene. Nasty but awesome stuff right there.

Pros:
-Ridley Scott’s still got it
-Amazing realization of ancient Egypt
-Great set design, costumes, make-up, etc. (I rarely commend this department but these guys absolutely nailed it)
-Great soundtrack
-Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton do admirable jobs as Moses and Ramesses, respectively. Aaron Paul was a good Joshua.
-The plague scenes are fantastic, powerful and morbid
-The movie has balls. For what should be a very dark story of slavery, brutality and absurdly graphic plagues, Ridley Scott manages to make a PG-13 more raw than some R rated films I’ve recently seen. One particularly noteworthy bit of brutality was *mild spoiler* Ramesses ordering the hanging of a family of slaves (father, mother and child). When the bench was kicked out from underneath the three of them I actually cringed at their writhing bodies. It’s THAT kind of a reaction that gets us to sympathize with the revolt-ees, in this case the Hebrews.

Cons:
-Pacing issues; the movie could’ve been a solid twenty minutes shorter
-Sigourney Weaver’s role has no reason to be in this movie, especially given how bad her performance was
-Ben Kingsley was lacking and simultaneously underutilized
-The final, climactic wave scene was slightly underwhelming. Just slightly. But it was a very good interpretation of the event, and far more realistic than what most of us might picture after reading the book version.

The Troublesome:
-Animal safety. The movie had a horse trainer present and most of the animals looked to be relatively safe, as a lot were also CGI, but when dealing with 400+ frogs and dozens of live horses, I can only hope they were taken care of during filming (there was no Humane Society or PETA certification in the credits, but to its credit I feel as though we would’ve heard something a la the first Hobbit movie had there been actual animal neglect [I still refuse to see that movie for that reason]).

In short, you have every reason to go and see Exodus. Screw the protests that there isn’t enough diversity in this movie, there were PLENTY of darker skinned people in the film (far outnumbering the “whitewashed” leads). Not to mention the movie itself is glorious. I can’t under-emphasize how worth your time Exodus is; it’s the best not-overly-religious religious epic we’re likely to ever get.

Review of “Interstellar” (Spoiler Review)

Matthew McConaughey seems to have won his Academy Award for best actor a year early.

MV5BMjIxNTU4MzY4MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzM4ODI3MjE@._V1__SX924_SY512_
Interstellar is Christopher Nolan’s latest foray into the world of non-Batman endeavors, and this time we see him tackling the rather large topic of dimensional transcendence and space. And while the scope is massive, Nolan’s movie holds up amazingly… up until the last thirty or so minutes.

It all starts with Cooper (McConaughey) and his family raising corn on the family farm, as it is the last vegetable able to be grown due to a dust phenomenon known as blight killing every other kind of food source. This dust also damages breathing, and is thus making earth uninhabitable, giving us a good setup for the movie. It’s a bit of a slow wind-up, a good forty-five minutes or so of meandering around with Cooper on a rapidly deteriorating earth, but it feels natural. Cooper’s organic relationship with his family and a well-realized soon-to-be dying earth make this opening feel weighty and substantial, the essential feelings required for emotional investment later in the film when Cooper is sent on his mission to save humanity by finding another inhabitable planet.

Cooper then finds NASA’s secret HQ due to a gravitational phenomena that creates binary coordinates for him to follow, where he then meets Dr. Brand (Michael Caine in his four-billionth Nolan film), a man determined to figure out the equation for gravity and figure out these gravitational mysteries. He is also in charge of sending Cooper off with a whole batch of test-tube babies to go through a wormhole and find an aforementioned new planet to inhabit. These test tube babies will be the start of a new generation of humans if Dr. Brand fails to figure out a way to manipulate gravity with his equation to the point of moving everyone on his colossal subterranean NASA ark into space to follow Cooper’s trail. In short, if Brand fails, test tube babies start the human race anew. If he succeeds, not everyone (only around 99%) on earth has to die horrible deaths of starvation and lung cancer. The plot is fantastic so far, as the writers have clearly done their homework to make everything sound semi-feasible, even if they’re using terminology that we, the common viewers, may not fully understand. In particular, there was this one extremely cool moment where they explain how wormholes work in one of the most simple yet mentally stimulating visual representations ever, using nothing more than a piece of paper and a pencil. That’s how most of the science lingo in the movie is; that is to say, extremely fascinating.

Eventually they meet Matt Damon’s character, Dr. Mann, who was supposed to scout out one of the potential planets that Cooper is sent to visit and potentially colonize. Mann has gone off the deep end, however, and eventually attacks Cooper and leaves him for dead, then going on to try and steal Cooper’s ship and colonize a different planet by himself. And this is the best part of the movie, in my opinion: it’s the grand finale of the second act, Mann blows a good chunk of the ship up by operating the shuttle lock-on incorrectly, and meanwhile on earth Dr. Brand admits that the gravitational equation was a hoax and that he never expected any of the humans currently on earth to make it off the planet in time. Brand drops this bombshell of a twist on his death bed as a sort of last confession, admitting that he’s intentionally damned every human being on earth to gain enough support to at least get test tube babies out in space and potentially save humanity. At this point I was feeling gut-wrenching agony that I’d NEVER felt in a movie before, which is when I knew it was doing something right. If the movie had ended right there, with the humans on earth realizing they were screwed (and the majority of them just uninformed of their soon-to-be grizzly fate) accompanied by Mann accidentally screwing over humanity’s last chance at repopulating humanity in space, it just might have been my favorite movie of the year. If it had had that sad ending, where humanity ultimately causes its own downfall, it would’ve A.) been a far more reasonable ending than the one we got, and B.) been a lot more accurate to what’s bound to happen. Humans have always been humanities’ greatest enemy, and a deflating ending like that could’ve elevated this movie to “extreme cautionary/visionary tale” status. But no, we got some fifth dimensional bullshit to wrap the movie up with.

Here it is: the third and final act. In short, the human spirit triumphs like every other bullshit movie out there. Cooper goes through a black-fucking-hole and finds himself trapped in a yarn maze which symbolizes the fifth dimension, in which he can see every possible outcome of every possible choice for any given point in time. Essentially, any parallel universe for any decision he’s ever contemplated in his life. And then we find out HE was the gravitational anomaly affecting his family the whole time. But the major flaw in the logic here is: what started the initial push? Cooper is only in the fifth dimension because someone put it there, and even if he had originally placed it there FOR himself, he’d still needed to have gone into it initially to set up THAT potential future. In short, the movie throws us a “which came first, the chicken or the egg” argument where the answer is a fucking megalodon shark. If that sounds immersion breaking, that’s because it is. Then we see Cooper reunite with his daughter, and even though he’s like five billion space-years old, he hasn’t aged a bit in this universe, whereas his dying daughter is the old age of ninety-plus on her death bed. A glaringly stupid time travel cliche, where Cooper doesn’t age a shred while his daughter does.

Ugh. Now, all of this could’ve been remedied had Nolan not made Cooper the reason for the fifth dimension existing. All throughout the movie they’d hinted at some greater, trans-dimensional being as the catalyst for these events. If they’d stuck with that, it would’ve been far more feasible and still retained that level of mystery and intrigue that the third act was trying so hard to capture. Even if it was just an ominous rift in space that was described as the being, as long as it communicated in some way, that still would’ve been better than the Cooper-solves-it-all ending we got.

Now, I bitched pretty hard about that final act, and it’s not because I hated it (I just thought it was kind of poor and belonged in a far less quasi-realistic sci-fi movie) but rather because I loved the rest of the movie soooo much by comparison. I mean, right in this review I’ve provided two better endings for the film, so I am amazed that they let Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan Nolan just spew this final act out onto the screen without any sort of supervision.

In terms of acting, everyone is fantastic. Matt M (his last name is a pain to spell) kills it as Cooper, Matt Damon gives an amazing (literally amazing, like, wow) performance for a role that really steps outside of his regular comfort zone, and even though I’m not a big fan of hers, Anne Hathaway is stellar as well. Bill Irwin was surprisingly my favorite character in the whole movie, and all he did was voice act an extremely cool robot companion named TARS, so props to him for outclassing everyone else without even appearing on-screen.

Most of the above praise of TARS is due to the great dialogue and just overall fantastic writing. Nearly every bit of the script can be qualified as “that one amazing line from that one movie”, except for it’s an entire three hour journey of that. Which is why I am saddened that Anne Hathaway’s dialogue is so campy at times and why the third act is so poorly written, as these two things really detract from a previously near-perfectly written movie.

Visuals are amazing <insert an overabundance of gratuitous compliments for the multitude of CGI artists>, as is to be expected. Hans Zimmer creates one of the most haunting space soundtracks of all time, and I was surprised as I thought I’d seen his entire range after Inception, TDK trilogy and TASM2. Once again, Zimmer proves us mere mortals wrong.

In short, go see Interstellar. I originally went to see this movie for the sole purpose of catching the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer in cinemas, I shit you not. But when that trailer didn’t air, I got a three hour near-masterpiece as a very acceptable consolation prize.

Review of “Snowpiercer”

While it’s a bit heavy with its themes, this adult-oriented Polar Express is different enough from the blockbuster category it reluctantly resides in to be worthy of viewership from anyone with a theater screening it.Snowpiercer-2

All formalities out of the way, it’s a good movie that isn’t being released very widely, so it might be a bit of a drive for you to find a theater showing it. With that said, it’s definitely worthy of going out of your way for. While the movie has its share of flaws such as so-so dialogue and CGI that suffers from a limited budget, there’s enough good in Snowpiercer to overcome the bad.

Based off the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, Snowpiercer follows the story of the titular train and its cycle around an ice-aged earth, seventeen years in the future. The people within are segregated to front and back workers, with the front being the privileged and the back being the impoverished. Curtis (Chris Evans), the makeshift leader of the impoverished, decides that the proletariat need to rise up and overtake the bourgeoisie, train car by train car until they reach the engine. While the plot starts off different enough from its graphic novel counterpart, the final act is ripped almost directly from the pages of Snowpiercer’s source material. So, for fans of the graphic novel, there is homage paid here and an engrossing story for newcomers alike.

While I could ramble about the performances (Song Kang-Ho steals the show in every scene) being top notch, which they are, I’d rather focus on the unique aspects of the film that are worth mentioning. The first noteworthy quality of Snowpiercer is its incorporation of the titular train. While some movies might use a really interesting sci-fi backdrop as nothing more than a plot setup device, the train really does affect how the movie progresses, and is in a sense the most important character of all. Not to mention the movie perfectly acknowledges the weight and girth of a giant train, using the theater’s sound system to its fullest advantage to deliver the hissing, rattling and churning of humanity’s locomotive ark.

Another special quality Snowpiercer has are its fight scenes. Not only do they manage to pull off the shaky-camera effect so many movies botch, but they use really interesting and dynamic aesthetic choices (one particular scene with torches is a stand-out). These things may seem small, but they add up to create some of the most impressive and memorable fights I’ve ever seen on the big screen.

Lastly, something a lot of other reviews aren’t really mentioning is the excellent soundtrack. I can’t describe it with words, but it sounds really, really good.

The cons of the movie aren’t anything massive, but they do leave a bit of a dent on an otherwise breakout success. The writing offers up a few cringe-worthy lines of dialogue, and some characters (especially in the final act) are too predictable to be interesting. As for the somewhat lacking CGI, I can’t fault the movie with that as the budget these guys had to work with wasn’t the best for top notch visual effects. And aside from those two gripes, there really isn’t much else to fault Snowpiercer with.

If you go in with an open mind, I think you’ll walk out with a surprise entry to your “favorite movies of the year” list. It’s definitely not something Hollywood would ever have the balls to produce, and the plot alone is shocking enough to keep you on your seat until the satisfying finale. Couple that with great acting, a one-of-a-kind sci-fi setting and Bong Joon-Ho’s cinematic prowess, and you have a remarkable two hours of film that takes no stops until it reaches its climatic, final destination.