Don’t Believe the Hype: “Snowpiercer” Sucks

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First, I know it’s probably too late to warn the world, but I couldn’t stand by silently after massive critical consensus lured me into watching this piece of shit of a movie.

Secondly, fair warning: This piece will be filled with spoilers.

Thirdly, a caveat: If you just enjoy the spectacle of film, and your favorite part of science fiction is the visuals, the movie isn’t half bad. I suspect this is why so many critics have actually come out in favor of this dreck. So, if that describes you, read no further, because the production values and effects are perfectly fine.

Now, here is why Snowpiercer sucks: laugh-out-loud bad science.

For starters, the train is powered by a perpetual motion machine. This screams red flag at anyone remotely fond of the laws of physics and means that we’re not talking sci-fi; we’re talking fantasy. The damn thing may as well have been pulled by a team of unicorns for all the scientific validity of the premise.

To continue, we have the fundamental premise: a world gone so cold due to a scientific mishap that nearly all life is extinct, except on this one global-circumnavigating train. Huh? OK, first, let’s accept the unicorn, er, perpetual motion machine powering the train: In a world where extreme cold is the problem, how in the hell is a moving object the best place to survive? Survivors would’ve been 10 times better off in some bunker or other nonmoving (and therefore far better insulated) structure – which could also have been powered by the aforementioned pixie dust, er, perpetual motion machine.

The damn thing may as well have been pulled by a team of unicorns for all the scientific validity of the premise.

Furthermore, I don’t care how fancy the train is, it’s a train. Which means it runs on tracks. Tracks require maintenance. A lot of maintenance. One break in the track – a track, I remind you, that runs around the entire globe and is so lengthy it requires a year for the train to traverse it – and the train is going to derail. Train tracks don’t fix themselves. They require teams of maintenance personnel, and in a world where everyone else is dead, those personnel don’t exist.

Let’s go even further. The movie makes use of ice falls and snow buildup as a plot device – the train has to hurtle through them, sometimes nearly derailing in the process as it weaves its way through mountain passes.

Great. It’s true, ice floes do come down from mountains. Know what else falls off mountains? Boulders. Giant rockfalls. Things that no train, no matter how sturdy or cunningly constructed, can knock its way through. Even a perpetually flying novelty oversized plane would, in this setting, be more plausible.

Then there’s the ecosystem. A few cars are shown with hydroponics and the like to grow food, but trains (in spite of their apparent size) are woefully small when it comes to being able to pack everything you’d need to maintain an ecosystem. The train would have to be miles long with dozens of hydroponics cars to come remotely close to supporting the number of people shown living in the train.

Steerage passengers aboard the Snowpiercer train revolt after watching the film Snowpiercer.
Steerage passengers aboard the Snowpiercer train revolt after watching the film Snowpiercer.

But let’s get to the moment when the film, for me, went from bad science to ludicrous: the big reveal at the end. Because, you see, a lot of the elderly poor folk who ride in the back of the train (the entire thing is a nonveiled story of class warfare with the rich living up front and the poor eating bug bricks in the squalid steerage section of the train) are missing limbs.

Wanna know why?

Because when everyone first boarded the train, the rich folks up front didn’t feed the steerage poor folk any food. So the ones in steerage resorted to cannibalism. And at the height of that cannibalistic experiment in social Darwinism, a moment arrived when the cannibals out back were about to eat a baby and its mother.

We’re to believe a whole gaggle of grandpas simply whipped out knives and hacked off their own limbs as a means of restoring social order? Malarkey, I say. Malarkey.

It was at this point that one of the older, weaker poor hacked off his own arm and offered it to the young, strong cannibals to convince them not to eat the baby. Seeing someone hack off a limb to feed them was such a moving, powerful gesture that it convinced the cannibals to give up cannibalism. Or baby cannibalism, anyhow. Because the rest of the oldsters provided to follow suit, offering up legs and arms to keep the fine young cannibals fed.

Are you effing kidding me? Seriously? I’m sorry, but there are only a tiny handful of human beings on this planet who could, no matter how much they wanted to, remove their own limbs. Even they would have to be motivated by a level of self-preservation-driven desperation so great that it would boggle the mind before they could achieve such a feat. Yet we’re to believe a whole gaggle of grandpas simply whipped out knives and hacked off their own limbs as a means of restoring social order?

Malarkey, I say. Malarkey.

The science is awful and the big reveal is ludicrous. I disagree strongly with critics who’ve come out in support – even if Snowpiercer serves admirably as something “different,” I don’t think we should ignore such glaring defects simply because a film isn’t generic Hollywood tripe.RedShtick-Top-ColumnStop

About Jared Kendall

A freelance data journalist and father of two, Jared Kendall has been using comedy as a coping mechanism his entire life. Born a Yankee, Jared's twenty-year stint in Baton Rouge still leaves him with one question: "Why'd I move here, again?"

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