I haven’t had a lot of time this weekend but here are some quick thoughts on two movies you can see this week. There’ll be more detailed analysis in the next episode of the podcast.
Are you a fan of allegorical or speculative science fiction? How about films with a distinct visual aesthetic and voice? Then you should watch Snowpiercer because it’s freaking great. Bong Joon-Ho’s post apocalyptic class struggle story is richly conceived and layered with meaning and detail at every turn.
The story starts on a train endlessly circling the globe after a new ice age has wiped out everyone else in the world. The passengers range from the rich elite who paid for their place at the front of the train and the people who forced their way on as the train was leaving. 17 years later Chris Evans Curtis is leading a rebellion in the tail section of the train against the squalor that they are forced to live in.
I’m not going to spoil it but there won’t be that many surprises in the movie if you’ve seen films of this genre before. That doesn’t really matter though because unlike so many films these days the film trusts you to figure most things out for yourself. When things are spoken about or shown in the first act the movie expects you to notice on your own that they are important so when they one up again in the third act it’s far more satisfying.
Add to this a great performance from a great cast and you’ve got yourself a damn fine movie. Chris Evans continues to prove he’s a great actor as Curtis, and he’s helped along the way by Jamie Bell, John Hurt, Octavia Spencer Song Kang-ho, and Ewan Bremner. Tilda Swinton knocks it out of the friggin’ park as the lead antagonist mason and Ed Harris shows up to be the perfect version of Ed Harris to be the man at the front of the train.
Snowpiercer has had an interesting roll out to theatres but if it’s not playing in your area don’t fret as you can rent it on iTunes right now and watch it in the comfort of your own home. And seriously, do that, because it’s a great movie.
Lucy is about a woman who is infused with a huge dose of an experimental drug which activates more and more of her cerebral capacity, moving towards 100%, granting her photographic recall, telekinesis, and a whole host of other powers. It’s interesting then that a movie about being smart is basically as dumb as a bag of hammers.
That’s not to say that Lucy is bad, in fact it’s pretty good, it’s just a little shallow is all. Doesn’t really matter though because even though it’s using overly simplified and debunked science it’s a solid science fiction action movie with a positive message about knowledge and science.
Yeah, that’s right, instead of Lucy gaining superpowers and knowledge and threatening to take over the world she figures out that she has a limited amount of time before she moves on to some other form of existence and her sole goal is to find someone to pass all she’s learned on to because that’s the right thing to do. Compare this to, say, the most recent Transformers movie in which the main character goes from “we can invent anything” to “some things shouldn’t be invented” and you see why this is such a refreshing take on the idea. Hell one of the first things Lucy does when she’s granted effectively total recall of her life is to call he mother and say thank you as for the first time she completely understands how much her parents love her and she’s completely overwhelmed by it. Kinda of awesome right?
Everyone in the movie is fine. Scarlett Johansson is fine and Morgan Freeman is fine. Choi Min-Sik has a great time as the Korean gangster who is trying to get the drugs back from Lucy and in another refreshing turn the Korean gangster speaks Korean for the whole movie.
Lucy isn’t a perfect movie by any stretch but it’s fun and optimistic and everyone involved seems to be having a good time making it. Luc Besson still knows how to direct an action movie as well (that car chase!) too. So go see it already.