2013 has definitely been a year of big comic book movies so far, with Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel both performing laudably at the box office, but one comic book adaptation that seems to have flown under the radar is acclaimed South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s (The Host, Mother) dystopian sci-fi drama Snowpiercer. The film follows the never-ending travels of the last human survivors of a global ice age as they struggle to endure on an enormous, perpetually moving train that is sharply divided along class lines.
It’s a great concept, and the revolutionary aspect will no doubt be satisfying for anyone who has ever been crammed into the economy section of public transportation. On the Snowpiercer, the population is segregated into the First Class at the front of the train, the Economy in the middle, and the “freeloaders” at the back. This microcosmic society is ruled with an iron fist by Mason (Tilda Swinton), a Thatcheresque leader who determines to keep everyone – especially the lowest class – in their proper place.
With the South Korean release less than a month away, a new sixty-second trailer for Snowpiercer has just been released, featuring new scenes alongside some of those that were shown in the previous trailer. Chris Evans takes center stage as Curtis, a bottom-rung revolutionary who, with the help of angered passengers like Tanya (Octavia Spencer), Wilford (Ed Harris) and Edgar (Jamie Bell), leads those at the tail end of the Snowpiercer into a rebellion where they take over the engine and make a push toward the front of the train.
In addition to the trailer, there is also a new batch of promotional stills, which mainly feature the lower class characters in all their grimy glory:
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Unless you’re a polylinguist, you can expect to run into a few language barriers when digging for details about the film. Snowpiercer is an adaptation of a French comic book series called “Le Transperceneige,” which was never published in English.
Additionally, the new featurettes that have been created to promote the Korean release of Snowpiercer do not have English subtitles for the interviews with the South Korean cast and crew (though if you need a laugh you can switch on captions and watch You-Tube attempt to provide phonetic subtitles), which means that non-Korean speakers will have to make do without director Bong Joon-Ho’s insights for now. Hopefully, these featurettes will be released with English translations at a later date.
Language issues aside, the featurettes (collected together comprehensively by Collider) are worth watching for the new clips included and the behind the scenes footage of how the train was built and designed to move in a realistic fashion. Snowpiercer premieres in South Korea on August 1st, and one of the videos shows each of the main cast remotely greeting the South Korean audiences and apologizing for not being able to make it to the occasion. The first video is an animated movie for the trailer, which gives the background to the world catastrophe that drove everyone onto the train.
Despite the oppressive drabness of the color palette for many of the scenes (which serves to create a dramatic contrast with the vibrantly colored first-class section), Snowpiercer looks like an exciting new addition to the sci-fi genre and has an incredible cast. Joon-ho made a splash with his 2006 monster movie The Host (the star of which, Song Kang-ho, returns in Snowpiercer as a tech expert), and his new film was produced by another famed South Korean director, Park Chan-wook (Oldboy).
Considering the high-profile cast and the talent involved, it’s a shame that Snowpiercer has so far had virtually zero promotion outside of South Korea. It’s almost impressive that so few people have heard of it, especially since it has Captain America himself in the lead role.
Bong Joon-ho’s film looks like it might be one of the most noteworthy science fiction films of 2013 – let’s just hope it doesn’t take too much longer to leave its home country and head to Western theaters.
Snowpiercer will be released in South Korea on August 1st, 2013. The Weinstein Company owns the US distribution rights, but has not yet announced a release date for the film.