Since the Snowpiercer TV series is set to premier May 17, 2020, I watched the first season and re-watched the groundbreaking feature film to give a spoiler free comparison here. The much talked about Snowpiercer movie gave us a shocking and gritty world when it was released in 2014.
In this bleak future, global warming wreaked havoc on the environment to the extant that it caused us to blot out the sky in a desperate effort to correct it. Unfortunately, that causes the world to freeze over and become uninhabitable. High class ticket holders and unwanted stowaways circle the globe on a life sustaining train known as the Snowpiercer. These passengers are the last people on earth.
The premise and highly imaginative setting of the train are the same in the movie and the series. I was thrilled that from the start, the TV series gave us a look at what led the lower class passengers boarding and being relegated to the tail of the train. The beautifully drawn drama of this opening sequence from the series will remind you of the other-worldly quality hand made animation can provide.
I am happy to report you can follow and enjoy the series even if you never saw the Snowpiercer movie. But, if you have seen the movie, the series expands on this world and plays into what fans will expect in different ways.
For example, the series has the same savory protein blocks, but does not go into the backstory behind them. The movie took care of that. You will find familiar cars at each stage of the train, but they are different in crucial ways. Some new cars on the train are unique to the series. You will find the authoritarian regime in charge of the train has a similar technique to punish misbehavior…but the series takes it further.
In keeping with the times, the Snowpiercer series proudly displays a talented and diverse cast. Daveed Diggs plays Andre Layton with heart and charisma. Jennifer Connelly is featured as Melanie Cavill, a lead member of the hospitality department. Let’s just say, they are not hospitable to everyone aboard.
Susan Park delivers a strong supporting performance as Jinju, the resident biologist. You see, everyone has their place on Snowpiercer. Devotees of the movie will notice that Alison Wright plays Ruth, another hospitality worker who is, at times, a subtle nod to the Mason character Tilda Swinton made iconic in the feature.
The acting and writing is on track to make this a hit series for TNT. They found surprising and fun ways to give us a narrative very distinct from the movie. It takes place at a different time frame than the movie does. Snowpiercer is a gripping tale that moves at full steam. All ten episodes of the series are a linked chain of action, drama and intrigue. A dystopian reality set on a moving metaphor, one thousand and one cars long.
I highly recommend the Snowpiercer series, and I must point out how ironic it is that it is released now. A time while our world is at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A time when the lasting effects of class, race and privilege are clearly felt. A time when life is not what any of us are used to. A time when we are forced to realize how food, water and other resources are things we take for granted. A time when our actions have great impact on society as a whole, for the good and the bad. A time when we just want an escape from the new normal.