The Duet review strikes again! I’ve been doing a lot of these lately, haven’t I? I promise I’ll be back to my more traditional, thorough review format very soon—saw a new movie that I’m itching to talk about—but for now I’ll discuss a couple of fairly new releases. One of these I really dug, and the other was a smidge disappointing. If you know me even a little, I bet you can guess which is which. So let’s talk about Snowpiercer and The Guest!
Synopsis: “Set in a future where a failed climate-change experiment kills all life on the planet except for a lucky few who boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe, where a class system emerges.” –www.imdb.com
The High Notes:
- The cast. With Chris Evans, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, and Octavia Spencer, Snowpiercer has some pretty heavy hitters, and they all do a solid job. After seeing him as good ol’ boy Captain America, it was nice to see Evans tackle a grittier character. There’s a particularly stirring monologue he delivers toward the end that reveals a lot of dark stuff about the character, and it’s great. Also, Song Kang-ho! I really haven’t seen him in much (only this and The Host), but I like the guy, and he’s pretty awesome here as a drugged out security expert.
- Seeing the differences in each section. A group from the dirt-poor area in the back of the train slowly makes its way toward the front, and it’s very interesting watching the progression. Each section is designed for a specific purpose, but the sections toward the front are where the wealthy reside, and those areas definitely reflect that wealth. Having basically every social class squeezed into one big train is pretty fascinating.
- The big fight sequence. In the middle of the movie there’s a game-changing fight that’s tense and exciting and filmed in a pretty cool way. I won’t say anything more for fear of spoilers, but it’s a great moment.
The Low Notes:
- Though interesting, the premise is also extremely ridiculous. For me, it was kind of hard to get past that. First of all, the fact that scientists decided to shoot some random climate-change experiment into the sky in the very near future is crazy. Second, the fact that one man’s solution was to stuff humanity into a constantly running train is also crazy. Third, the fact that the train would almost instantly divide into classes is, you guessed it, freaking crazy. If this really is humanity’s last hope, wouldn’t only the super wealthy be able to afford tickets? This plot is like swiss cheese, y’all—full of holes. Oh yeah. I went there.
- The heaviness. From start to finish, this film is straight up depressing. I realize this is a post-apocalyptic world we’re dealing with, but something to lighten the mood a bit would be great. Also, not so many people dying would be nice. Yeah. This is one of those movies. Like I said—heavy.
- The ending. It may be a refreshing change of pace from the rest of the movie, but it just didn’t work for me. There were…a lot of questions. That’s all I’m saying.
The Staccato Version: Snowpiercer has very cool ideas, an excellent cast, and clear vision from director Bong Joon-ho…but that wasn’t quite enough for me. The plot holes and the sheer heaviness of this film kept me from being able to fully appreciate it. I know I say this a lot, but it holds true here, too: I wanted to like this film much more than I actually did. It’s a shame, but it’s the truth.
My Grade: B-
Synopsis: “A soldier introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action. After the young man is welcomed into their home, a series of accidental deaths seem to be connected to his presence.” –www.imdb.com
The High Notes:
- Dan Stevens as David and Maika Monroe as Anna. When I heard that Stevens had been cast as the Beast in Disney’s upcoming, live-action Beauty and the Beast, I didn’t really know what to think since I hadn’t see any of his work. After seeing this, I think he’s going to be a great Beast. He’s extremely creepy, yet somehow still very charming in this. (He’s also very pretty, which doesn’t hurt a bit.) And Monroe! She’s great! I hadn’t known what to expect with this girl, who, between this and It Follows, suddenly seems to be turning into a modern Scream Queen, but her character had just the right amount of sass and smarts in this. Monroe portrays that well. I think she might be one to look out for…
- The ‘80s vibe. I noticed how much director Adam Wingard likes to infuse that retro feeling into his films when I saw You’re Next. The plot set-up, the characters, and especially the soundtrack make you think of a time when horror was fun and not just grim and gross. I saw a review that likened it to the original Halloween (which, I know, was in the ‘70s, but it fits) and Drive. That’s pretty much spot-on.
- Did I mention that soundtrack? It sets the tone perfectly, and I really dug it. A good soundtrack is a powerful thing.
The Low Notes:
- Anna’s family is way too trusting. David shows up, and all of the sudden it’s like he’s part of the family—after a matter of, like, two days, too. I realize it’s a movie, so we have to suspend disbelief to certain degree, but come on, fictional family. Really?
- We never totally understand David’s motives. He seems to want to cause chaos just for the heck of it. That could have something to do with his history, which is briefly explained, but even so that’s not much of a reason…
- The ending. After a lot of fresh, tense thrills, the end falls into pretty predictable territory. It wasn’t terrible or anything—I still liked it. I had just hoped for something more, I guess.
The Staccato Version: I thoroughly enjoyed The Guest. Stevens is great, Monroe is great, the retro vibe is great, and the movie as a whole is complete and utter fun. Not perfect, maybe, but fun—much like You’re Next, actually. In fact, between this and You’re Next, I’m very excited to see what Wingard has up his sleeve next.
My Grade: B+