Snowpiercer appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Across the board, the transfer looked great.
Sharpness seemed strong. Virtually no instances of softness materialized, as the movie seemed concise and accurate. Shimmering and jagged edges remained absent, and I witnessed no edge haloes. Print flaws failed to appear.
Teal. Teal teal teal teal! That hue dominated the film, especially during the first half. It still featured prominently after that, but the palette opened up a little more and gave us some ambers, reds and others. While I thought the teal seemed extreme, I couldn’t criticize its reproduction, as the Blu-ray displayed the hues as intended. Blacks looked deep and taut, and shadows showed good clarity. This was a consistently strong presentation.
No complaints accompanied the excellent DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Snowpiercer. With plenty of action, the soundscape often opened up in a dynamic manner and used all the channels to great advantage. I also liked the way the track immersed us in life on the train. This was a broad mix that excelled at all times.
No real issues with audio quality emerged. A couple of louder lines showed mild edginess, but the vast majority of the speech remained natural and distinctive.
Music was bold and dynamic, and effects killed. Those elements were expressive and impactful, as they showed fine definition and power. I liked this track a lot and thought it added to the movie.
When we shift to extras, we start with an audio commentary from film critics Scott Weinberg, James Rocchi, William Goss, Drew McWeeny, Jennifer Yamato and Peter S. Hall. Weinberg hosts/leads the chat and brings in the others one at a time via the phone. The piece covers story/character areas, themes and influences, cast and performances, sets and design, and the film's release.
The commentary usually provides an insightful look at the film, though some participants seem stronger than others. Goss comes across as the weakest of the bunch; he simply doesn't seem to have much to say, even though Weinberg works hard to elicit remarks. The others fare better, especially Rocchi and McWeeny, who seem lively and engaging.
Weinberg throws out plenty of his own thoughts and I admire his enthusiasm about the film, though I think he and the others can be too quick to forgive potential problems. For instance, Weinberg and company see the movie's one-dimensional political viewpoint as positive, which I don't get; I don't agree with the assertion that "subtlety is overrated", especially in the context of a work that wants to be intelligent and insightful. Despite my disagreements with the participants, I think this becomes an enjoyable chat, and I was happy to hear opinions that differed from my own.
On a second disc, we find a slew of materials. Transperceneige: From the Blank Page to the Black Screen runs 54 minutes, 27 seconds and presents artist Jean-Marc Rochette, comic book specialist Fershid Bharucha, writer’s widow Couetsch Bousset-Lob, scriptwriter Benjamin Legrand, director Joon-ho Bong, production designer Ondrej Nekvasil, and actor Clark Middleton. The show covers the original comic on which the film was based and its adaptation to the screen, story/character areas, cast and performances, visual/set design, and related areas.
Essentially “Page” looks at the film’s production from the perspective of those involved with the original French comic book. That sounds like an interesting take on the movie – and it can be enjoyable for a while, but I think it runs too long. I don’t think we get enough compelling information to flesh out a nearly hour-long show. While good tidbits appear, this would’ve worked better as a much shorter featurette.
Under The Birth of Snowpiercer, we find a 15-minute, nine-second piece with Joon-ho Bong, Nekvasil, costume designer Catherine George, stunt coordinator Julian Spencer, hair and makeup Jeremy Woodhead, director of photography Hong Kyeong-Pyo, line producer Robert Bernacchi, VFX supervisor Eric Durst, and actors Song Kang-Ho, Chris Evans, Ed Harris, John Hurt, Octavia Spencer, Ko Asung and Tilda Swinton. The show looks at the movie’s origins, character/story areas, sets and visual design, effects and costumes, stunts and action, and the director’s work. “Birth” exists to promote the film but it includes enough useful material to make it worth a look.
The Characters goes for 13 minutes, eight seconds and includes Joon-Ho Bong. Evans, Hurt, Spencer, Song Kang-Ho, Swinton, Ko Asung, and Harris. As expected, we learn about cast, characters and performances here. It follows “Birth” with another decent but unexceptional featurette.
Though the disc includes no deleted scenes, we do find an Animated Prologue. In the four-minute, 31-second reel, we get much of the same information found in the movie’s actual opening, but we get a clearer visual representation of what occurred. It offers an intriguing alternate start to the film.
We hear from two actors in Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton on Snowpiercer. During the four-minute, 40-second piece, they discuss their characters as well as the director and a few other elements. This seems like a mediocre show without much depth.
For the final featurette, we locate the eight-minute, six-second The Train Brought to Life: Behind the Scenes of a Special Screening. This one shows a train-based promotional even in Texas and includes an interview with the director, as he offers some thoughts about movies. “Train” doesn’t offer much meat but I like the unusual chat with Joon-Ho Bong.
The disc finishes with Concept Art Galleries. This domain splits into “Train Concepts” (13 screens) and “Rochette Paintings” (23). The former show train design ideas, while the latter offers material supposedly created by a film character but actually done by artist Jean-Marc Rochette. Both deliver some interesting elements, though the clunky interface makes them more of a chore to examine than I’d like.
Despite a strong cast and an intriguing premise, Snowpiercer delivers nothing more than fitful entertainment. It does enough well to make it reasonably interesting, but its clumsy, over the top attempts at social commentary can turn it into a drag. The Blu-ray comes with excellent picture and audio as well as an inconsistent but mostly positive set of supplements. I think Snowpiercer offers some lively elements but the final product suffers from too many flaws.