by Tyler Glover
Before director Bong Joon-ho won three Academy Awards for "Parasite" this past year, he had already given the world another masterpiece back in 2013: the underrated "Snowpiercer."
"Snowpiercer" is a remarkable film that explores many different themes including class struggle, the politics of survival, and the fight for equality. It also invites us to a world like we have never seen before. Sometimes, movies take us to a place where we would like to spend more time than just the 120 minute running time. This may not be because the world is a great place to be but because we want to know more about it. If you are one of the ones who saw “Snowpiercer” and thought that, you are in luck. "Snowpiercer" has been adapted into a television show airing on TNT Sunday nights. From watching the pilot, it appears that while this world is an intriguing one to revisit, the execution of setting up the world in the series lacked in some areas.
The series begins very much like the film. Humanity is battling global warming and their efforts to stop it sends the world into a frozen wasteland with temperatures way too low to survive. Aware the efforts could backfire, Mr. Wilford decides to make a gigantic luxury train that can perpetually move across the globe. If you are rich enough, you can buy a ticket to board, which many who believe the end of the world is coming do. However, the day of its departure, multiple people without a ticket storm the train. They are kept in the very back of the train and given little to survive. The rest of the world dies leaving the only survivors on earth the passengers of the train named Snowpiercer.
The series follows Andre Layton, played by Tony-winner Daveed Diggs, who is the only remaining homicide detective left in the world.
So, when a murder occurs in the first class, Mr. Wilford seeks his help to find the killer. Oscar-winner Jennifer Connelly plays Melanie Cavill, a first-class passenger and also the "voice of the train." Connelly acts on behalf of Mr. Wilford's wishes. Before Andre was taken from the end of the train, a revolution was being planned to change their fates. Andre sees the opportunity that being able to navigate the train allows him. Andre plans on gaining intel on how a future revolution could occur.
Connelly's performance is the standout here. Melanie is a character we instantly want to know more about. She stays very prim and proper and is a huge proponent of "order." However, you get the sense that there is so much more that lies below the surface with her. There is something she is not telling us. Connelly is finally getting a role since her Oscar-winning performance in "A Beautiful Mind" two decades ago, that is giving her a chance to show us what she can really do. There are lots of questions around Melanie's character and I have a feeling when the time comes for those questions to be answered, Connelly will deliver.
In the film, there are many intriguing and surprising plot twists. The series has set up the world to where some of those same twists could occur. However, there is a plot twist at the end of the pilot that shows that while the series may be in the same world as the film, it is here to make the world its own.
My biggest criticism of the pilot is that it really failed to garner interest in two areas: the murder mystery aspect and setting up the characters other than the two leads. Since the murder mystery is the route the writers are taking to get Andre out of his current state and drive the story forward, it definitely was a missed opportunity to not get us more invested in it. Also, the lower class train occupants are being treated unjustly but the series (so far) has not really explored their world enough to make us have much empathy for them. We are going to need to care about them and their futures for the series to work. I feel the pilot should have definitely made a point to include that. Hopefully, these things will be explored in further episodes and were just given little attention due to having a lot to accomplish in a short amount of time. However, despite these shortcomings, the pilot has me intrigued enough to come back for more.
So, will the series be better than the film? From what we have seen so far, it does not look like that will be the case but this is a show that will be full of plot twists. Will one of them be that my opinion changes into liking the show more than the film? Time will tell.