Snowpiercer 2020 (is what I’ve had to term the TV version of the 2013 movie), and it’s a series based on said movie by Bong Joon Ho (also out on the same day as this series!), who recently directed Best Film Oscar winner Parasite, and is also one of the many executive producers on this new series.
Starring Jennifer Connelly (Alita: Battle Angel) and Daveed Diggs (Blindspotting), this ten-parter is set over seven years after the world has become a frozen wasteland, with the series centering on what’s left of the human race, as they’re stuck on a huge, non-stop train that circles the globe, thanks to the creation of a man called Wilford.
Yes, Greta Thunberg’s gone too far, and thanks to too many lunatics not realising that she was a puppet for big business who want to control the world and the markets, all the countries of the world are forced to fill the air with technical thingummyjigs to bring the temperature down… but nothing ever goes to plan, and now the world is a frozen ice box.
I watched the film just before watching the series – both of which are released on the same date, and since I didn’t get round to seeing the big-screen original before, it’s like I’m in that situation where I’m waiting for a bus: there’s none for ages and then two come along at once 🙂
Anyhoo, in the film, the train was already on its way, and 17 years into its never-ending journey, while the series begins with the last hopefuls boarding the train and hoping to survive as it sets off from the station, before zooming ahead to nearly 7 years into the ‘journey’. In addition, while the movie only teased us with the tail section of the train before revealing more, the series shows off a number of the sections in brief detail at the start.
Daveed Diggs, as Andre Layton, is very much the Chris Evans character of the piece, i.e. the main protagonist, as we seee him keeping an eye on the gates between his section and what’s in front, since if you make a break for it at the right time, you’ll get through at the precise, brief moment when all the gates are open.
Instead of Tilda Swinton – whose character was originally written as a man, but for whom Bong Joon Ho wanted to change to female, yet as we all know, her roles are often androgynous or, at least, never wholly-female – Here, the main female cast member is Jennifer Connelly as hospitality head Melanie Cavill, who’s clearly more feminine, but that’s because the ‘Tilda’ role is Ruth Wardie, portrayed by Alison Wright, giving off serious masculine lesbian vibes.
I expected the series to expand on various aspects in the film – which soon got on with the business of the tail section trying to escape their own personal lockdown – so in the series, we quickly learn that Layton used to be a cop in the ‘old world’, and the posh section want him to turn Columbo and solve a mysterious death.
I can see one or two characters from the film replicated in this series, but so far after one episode, the basic premise is just being eeked out as it gives more backstory to all the characters in general.
Overall, compared to the film, the first episode is very slow, even if it is just scene-setting. However, I’ll see where it goes (in terms of plot, since the train just goes around the globe, constantly) as I’m a sucker for an ‘end of the world’ drama, even when they’re lacking much plot, rather like the recent Into The Night.
If you do love Snowpiercer 2020, though, while it begins on Netflix next Monday, you won’t get the whole series streaming on day one. It’s starting with two episodes and then adding one a week from the following Monday. This is because in the US, it started on TNT on Sunday just gone. However, they’re only showing one a week, so effectively, from week two, Netflix will only be one day behind… but then again, not really, because it’ll be on TNT at 9pm in the US, which will be around 2am or so in the UK, hence, you’ve not really got any time to wait until you can see it.
Snowpiercer 2020 is not available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD, but is on Netflix from Monday May 25th.
Episode 1 Score: 6/10
Series Directors: James Hawes, Sam Miller, Helen Shaver, Frederick EO Toye, Everardo Gout
Producers: Alissa Bachner, Holly Redford, Mackenzie Donaldson, Bill Balas
Developer: Graeme Manson
Writers: Tina de la Torre, Aubrey Nealon, Donald Joh, Hiram Martinez, Chinaka Hodge, Benjamin Legrand, Jacques Lob, Lizzie Mickery, Jean-Marc Rochette
Music: Bear McCreary
Melanie Cavill: Jennifer Connelly
Andre Layton: Daveed Diggs
Ruth Wardie: Alison Wright
Brakeman Bess Till: Mickey Sumner
Bennett Knox: Iddo Goldberg
Miss Audrey: Lena Hall
LJ Folger: Annalise Basso
Brakeman John “Oz” Osweiller: Sam Otto
Jinju Seong: Susan Park
Josie Wellstead: Katie McGuinness
Zarah Ferami: Sheila Vand
Miles: Jaylin Fletcher
Javier “Javi” de la Torre: Roberto Urbina
Mr Wilford: ?
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.