Friday, November 14, 2014

Movie Review: Snowpiercer

One of the great things about science fiction (and fantasy to an extent) is you can put humans in some unique circumstance and see how they react. The good science fiction has the the humans reacting as real life people would.

 The movie Snowpiercer is such an experiment. You sort of have to forget the ridiculous circumstances which would be destroyed in a with a moment's thought (see spoilers below) and look at the basic humanity of the characters. And this is where Snowpiercer succeeds as some science fiction doesn't. In the movie (based on a graphic novel, I believe), an macroengineering project to "solve" global warming goes horribly wrong and the entire planet is plunged into a super ice age. The only surviving humans are on a train (!) that circles the globe once per year. Depending on your "ticket" where you are on the train determines how well you live. The people on the back of the train, who apparently didn't have tickets, live very poorly and eat "protein bars." The story of the movie is a revolt by these people against the upper classes in the forward cars of the very long train.

At times brutal, other times funny, the movie moves forward and forward, contrasting the squalled existence of the people in the last car with the luxury of the forward cars. The goal of the rebels is to reach the engine and take over the train.

My biggest problem with this movie is the economic system. The people in the last car don't work in order to provide luxuries for the forward cars. They don't do anything but bitch. The forward cars have lots of luxuries, but where do they come from? This, to me, made the movie even less realistic than the problems discussed below (see spoilers).

So while there are implausibilities, the reason for the movie isn't any science, it's to explore the human condition under these circumstances. But we don't learn much other than people without much will rebel if they can. It was an interesting movie but not very enjoyable. And I found the ending implausible.

Now, I shall list all the other problems I had that are SPOILERS:

1) The train is supposed to circle the Earth once per year. The Earth is about 25,000 miles in circumference.  Let's say for some reason the train travels twice that, 50,000 miles per year. That would mean it would have to travel at a speed of 5.7 miles per hour. Yet in the movie it is shown speeding along as if it's going around 100 mph.

2) The forward cars have luxuries but there doesn't seem to be anyway for them to get them. At one point the characters walk through a freezer with sides of beef hanging. But they never walk through a car with cattle.

3) The protein bars are made out of insects that are mashed up in a large vat. But where do the insects come from?

4) And, at the end: the polar bear will most likely eat them.

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