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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How to torture an engineer, Snowpiercer edition!

My family takes mocking one another seriously. We each approach it in our own way. Aunt MacGuff likes to say insulting things her cute-harmless-old-lady voice so gently you don't realize what's happening. Mother Magoo favors sarcasm and eyerolling followed by irrepressible laughter. Husband-cat teases in gleeful bursts that is the energy equivalent of a kid saying, "I got you! I got you! Burn!" I favor matter-of-fact "I'm just saying..." approach. And being witty. Well, what I think is witty.

Torment, now that takes planning and forethought. I like to focus on a victim loved one's pet peeve and leverage that long-standing annoyance to epic levels. Which brings me to Snowpiercer, a South Korean movie starring Tilda Swinton (swoon), Chris Evans (quasi-swoon), Octavia Spencer (love, love, love), and John Hurt (acting badass), directed by Joon-ho Bong (the Host).

I must see this movie. I must drug my husband so he wakes up duct-taped to a chair in the movie theater, because that is the only way I will "convince" him to see a movie whose premise requires a lobotomy to accept.

Plot recap: in the future everybody dead. Survivors are on a train that goes around the world forever. People trapped in the back of the train try to take over the front of the train from oppressive elite. Violence ensues.

This movie hits a lot of my happy points:
  • dark-ass science fiction
  • excellent actors
  • a battle scene with hatchets!
  • spectacle, so much spectacle
  • apocalypse 
  • trains! trains!
  • Tilda Swinton and the way she moves (dismissive hand flick!)
It does this while at the same time hitting all of the Hub's AND NOW YOU'VE GONE TOO FAR buttons
  • A train with a perpetual-fucking-motion machine engine? Why not a team of flying monkeys pulling the damn thing? This isn't sci-fi, it's fantasy.
  • There is no version of reality, imagined or actual, where train tracks don't require constant maintenance. Constant!
  • The train cars are just endowed with magic building materials that can last forever without wearing out, need new welds or replacement? You can change an axle while in motion? Really?
  • Nothing ever falls on the track like snow? Rocks? Big fucking trees?! Yet this is in a post-apocalypse wasteland, correct?
  • There is no way you can support this volume of people without any agriculture or meat production. There's no train that long that can actually run.
  • This is a joke from a materials and engine perspective. Don't these people have a basic understanding of how things work?
  • I can suspend my disbelief, but only so far. Why must you ask so much of me? Why is this is so stupid?
Snowpiercer insults him as an engineer and human being. He thinks movies like this and shows like CSI make the audience dumber over time because they suspect it is even remotely possible to do anything on the screen. Unrealistic expectations creep into our everyday thinking. Bad pop culture tech degrades actual technology and engineering in the real world. It makes technology into magic fairies behind a computer screen that know no limitations.

I completely agree with this. When it comes to procedural television that showcase things like magically sharpening bad video so it's high-definition resolution, then yes, everyone is stupider for seeing that. When it comes to movies? He stands alone. It is a train that goes around the world forever. FOR-EV-VERRRR. That is stupid-glorious. They have made a world where the elite look like a crone and the downtrodden look like this:
Yeah guys, the dirt totally covers the fabulous.

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3 comments:

  1. I have been so excited to see this movie after your post. I told Mark, sent him your link, and we both watched the trailer on our phones. Um F-ing Yeah. If I lived near you, we would so be seeing this together. I loved the trailer with the Asian subs! Thank you for this. And viva Tilda and Sci Fi movies.
    Love,
    Shalagh

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    Replies
    1. I'm so glad SOMEONE shares my joy at this movie's existence. I could just see us in the movie theater with popcorn (and the wine and chocolate I like to sneak in) feasting on the glory that trains of the apocalypse run by Tilda. Hell, I'd watch Tilda run a hot dog stand because she would be fabulous.

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