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Snowpiercer [Blu-ray]
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187 of 211 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon July 7, 2014
Format: DVD
Theatrical review. There may be spoilers.

So here it is July 4th weekend. What are the sci-fi choices in theaters now? Well, I could go see the umpteenth version of "Transformers" which is playing in about 30 theater screens within a 5 mile radius of my house. Or, I could drive 10 miles and check out this unusual looking film from South Korean director Joon-ho Bong. It does have Chris Evans, fresh from "Captain America" and Tilda Swenton, last seen as an 80 year old woman in "The Grand Budapest Hotel." I decided to take the drive.

First of all, you have to buy into the premise. It's the near future and global warming is for real, so the scientists come up with a solution which, in fact, fixes the problem. They also kill everything on the planet with a catastrophic cold wave. The cockroaches survive as usual as you will find out later in the film. There are survivors who manage to board a train that circles the globe non-stop...forever. The train is the foresight of a man known as Wilford. I usual give actor credits here, but it is suggested I not, as it is a big surprise. It wasn't to me, but if you want to look it up go to IMDb or something.

Like much of the world, the train is split up into the "have-nots" led by Curtis (Evans) and his mentor, Gilliam (John Hurt). They live in the back of the train, far removed from the "haves" way up front. The 1 percenters are led by Wilford and his second in command, Mason (Swinton). And before I go much farther, she's a hoot. Especially when the contingent reach the kiddie's classroom. In addition, there are a collection of thugs whose mission is to keep the riff raff in the back where they belong. They live in squalor and get a protein bar for their daily ration. I won't go into the content but it will put your gag reflex in overdrive. As fair warning there are a couple more events that will unsettle most. But the film does do a good job of setting the stage for the conditions these people have been in for 17 years and why they want to escape.

Armed with little more than their determination, the rebellion is afoot. One by one the rebels move up car-by-car until they reach the domain of the guy in charge of the locks between the cars. Namgoon Minsoo (Kang-ho Song) is the guy and is aroused from his cryogenic sleep along with his daughter, Yona (Ah-sung Ko). He agrees to help (always in Korean) but only if he's supplied with a regular supply of homemade drug that he's addicted to. Essentially the film is as simple as that. Get to the engine where Wilford lives.

The combat portions of the film are excellent. The film is purposely dark and gloomy. It isn't a feel good movie. People you become fond of are killed. Kids are in the mix and are exploited, but damn if this isn't a refreshing change from the stuff we are often exposed to in mainstream movies. The film ends on a bleak, if hopeful note. But this isn't mainstream. Which is probably why the woman walking out of the theater behind me said to her husband. "That's the worst movie I've ever seen"! She obviously hasn't see the latest "Transformers."
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84 of 95 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
SNOWPIERCER has been one of my most anticipated movies since I first heard about it last year. I eagerly followed all the news I could get my hands on, and was one of many who bristled at the thought of Harvey Weinstein going snip-happy over it for a theatrical release. Thank goodness that never came to pass. So, now that I've seen it, was it worth the wait? Did it live up to my expectations? I would say the answer to that question is an unequivocal yes. This movie was definitely worth the wait, although there are a few aspects of it that slightly dampened the experience.

The story is set in a post-apocalyptic Earth where a chemical released into the atmosphere, ostensibly/hopefully to alleviate global warming, causes Earth to turn into a frozen wasteland. Humanity's few survivors are packed into a perpetually moving train designed and conducted by Wilford, a mysterious person who has a godlike status among the passengers. During their time on the train, society has solidified into a rigid class system (not unlike real life sometimes) that is separated by the different cars on the train. Chris Evans plays Curtis, a young man who plans to lead a revolt and take control of the engine. With that, I'll stop describing the plot because it is best to go into this film with as little information as possible, so as not to spoil anything.

Thematically, the film deals with class struggle and the ways that people are controlled to keep social order. The film doesn't really beat you over the head with its ideas, but there are a few sequences which present them in an effective way. Performance-wise, there is little to complain about. Chris Evans does a marvelous job, and this might be the best performance of his career (so far). He plays the part of a reluctant leader with appropriate amounts of brooding, and outrage at what he finds out on his way to the front of the train. John Hurt plays Gilliam (a nod to Terry Gilliam, no doubt), an old man in the tail car who is sort of a mentor to Curtis. There were also decent showings by Jamie Bell and Octavia Spencer as two of Curtis' fellow revolutionaries. However, the most entertaining performance was given by Tilda Swinton as Minister Mason. She is nearly unrecognizable, and gives a delightfully cheeky performance as what is essentially a stooge for the establishment. She was given several great character moments, and she nailed them all.

Visually, I thought that Bong Joon-Ho (and his cinematographer) effectively and realistically created a world in which to immerse the audience. Not everything is explained or spoon-fed, which was also a plus. The CGI wasn't as good as in mainstream Hollywood films, but it wasn't terrible either. About the best you can expect from a lower-budget Korean-Czech coproduction, and pretty high by Korean standards. Mostly, the visual effects showing the frozen outside world looked good, and the effects used inside the train worked as well.

Overall, I thought the movie was excellent. The only real gripe I have is with some occasional pacing issues, although once the plot is set in motion it never lets up. I highly recommend you see this movie, not only to support smaller films but because its more intellectually engaging than half of the crap that passes for entertainment these days.
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80 of 97 people found the following review helpful
Format: Blu-ray
Snowpiercer has actually been doing the rounds outside the United States since the 1st of August 2013, and was already a hit before it landed here. For good reason too, and if I were in charge of handing out awards, I would immediately without a second thought hand over trophies to Kyung-pyo Hong (cinematography), Joon-ho Bong (direction) and the absolutely amazing Tilda Swinton.

The ‘mechanics’ of having a single train house the human race aside, Snowpiercer is a distillation of the human condition. A metaphor if you will, simplified with its separate components exaggerated to tell a story about class structure, and the deluded notion that the human race is predictable, and as such controllable.

The story centers around an uprising lead by a man called Curtis (Chris Evans), and a quest to reach the front of the train. Along the way, as they break through to each new compartment, new environments and mysteries unfold. Snowpiercer is inventive, and violent at times, but always entertaining and certainly one of the more unique films to hit theaters in the last two years.
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52 of 66 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon August 9, 2014
Format: DVD
Theatrical review. There may be spoilers.

So here it is July 4th weekend. What are the sci-fi choices in theaters now? Well, I could go see the umpteenth version of "Transformers" which is playing in about 30 theater screens within a 5 mile radius of my house. Or, I could drive 10 miles and check out this unusual looking film from South Korean director Joon-ho Bong. It does have Chris Evans, fresh from "Captain America" and Tilda Swenton, last seen as an 80 year old woman in "The Grand Budapest Hotel." I decided to take the drive.

First of all, you have to buy into the premise. It's the near future and global warming is for real, so the scientists come up with a solution which, in fact, fixes the problem. They also kill everything on the planet with a catastrophic cold wave. The cockroaches survive as usual as you will find out later in the film. There are survivors who manage to board a train that circles the globe non-stop...forever. The train is the foresight of a man known as Wilford. I usual give actor credits here, but it is suggested I not, as it is a big surprise. It wasn't to me, but if you want to look it up go to IMDb or something.

Like much of the world, the train is split up into the "have-nots" led by Curtis (Evans) and his mentor, Gilliam (John Hurt). They live in the back of the train, far removed from the "haves" way up front. The 1 percenters are led by Wilford and his second in command, Mason (Swinton). And before I go much farther, she's a hoot. Especially when the contingent reach the kiddie's classroom. In addition, there are a collection of thugs whose mission is to keep the riff raff in the back where they belong. They live in squalor and get a protein bar for their daily ration. I won't go into the content but it will put your gag reflex in overdrive. As fair warning there are a couple more events that will unsettle most. But the film does do a good job of setting the stage for the conditions these people have been in for 17 years and why they want to escape.

Armed with little more than their determination, the rebellion is afoot. One by one the rebels move up car-by-car until they reach the domain of the guy in charge of the locks between the cars. Namgoon Minsoo (Kang-ho Song) is the guy and is aroused from his cryogenic sleep along with his daughter, Yona (Ah-sung Ko). He agrees to help (always in Korean) but only if he's supplied with a regular supply of homemade drug that he's addicted to. Essentially the film is as simple as that. Get to the engine where Wilford lives.

The combat portions of the film are excellent. The film is purposely dark and gloomy. It isn't a feel good movie. People you become fond of are killed. Kids are in the mix and are exploited, but damn if this isn't a refreshing change from the stuff we are often exposed to in mainstream movies. The film ends on a bleak, if hopeful note. But this isn't mainstream. Which is probably why the woman walking out of the theater behind me said to her husband. "That's the worst movie I've ever seen"! She obviously hasn't see the latest "Transformers."
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39 of 49 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
The story of an oppressed lower class rising up and revolting against their totalitarian overlords in a dystopian future is nothing new, but never before has it been done with as much visceral intensity, stunning acting, and thought-provoking themes as in Bong Joon-Ho's SNOWPIERCER. In the days after I viewed the film, I could NOT get it out of my head. Snowpiercer haunted my waking and sleeping hours with strange and searing images. Forgetting it's few small flaws - the plot holes and spotty CGI - we are left with a visceral, original and brilliantly acted look at desperation, hubris, and the importance of government.

The film is lead by a brilliant Chris Evans, playing Curtis: a man leading a desperate band of third-class passengers in a daring revolt against the ruling-class of the train. Chris Evans can only be described as an acting BEAST in this movie. He has an authority and gravitas about him, giving his stunning performance an edgy, haunted look that only comes when you have nothing to lose. Supporting him are Tilda Swinton, playing a despicable, supremely memorable villain, and a supporting cast of Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, John Hurt, Song Kang-ho, and Ewen Bremner, all of whom steal their scenes and embody their roles with subtle humanity.

The world of Snowpiercer feels real and frighteningly prescient. While the scientific aspect of the film is rather preposterous, the political issues raised so many ethical and moral questions for me in the days to come that my brain was a haze of conflicting opinions. But enough of ethics: Snowpiercer is visually stunning and immersive. Joon-Ho fills his film with striking images: a yellow dress in a field of grey, chilling (pun intended) images of frozen cities, a snowflake forming in mid-air.

But apart from acting, I was most impressed with the film's action. This isn't the beautiful gun-play of John Woo, nor the explosion poetry of Michael Bay. This is brutal, ugly, chaotic, gritty brawling that kills villains and heroes alike, leaving us cringing, gasping, or watching mesmerized through our fingers. Snowpiercer tears down the myth of the superhero. Good men die, bad men live, pain is caused, and people fight with hammers and knives because they have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

I don't want to jump to conclusions, nor do I want to convince people of anything, but in my personal opinion as a fan of science fiction and action, SNOWPIERCER is one of the best films I've seen in a while. Real, riveting, and ruthless, Snowpiercer keeps you guessing and gripped with powerful acting and brutal action. If you are a fan of science fiction, action, or want to be stimulated and entertained by a mature film...then SNOWPIERCER is the film for you! 5/5

P.S. If this review was helpful to you in your decision (or not) to purchase this product, please give it a like. Thanks!
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70 of 93 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2014
Format: Blu-ray
If there is one film in 2014 that everyone needs to view it is Korean director Bong Joon-ho's nearly perfect science-fiction action thriller Snowpiercer. I have wanted to see Snowpiercer since I saw the films first trailer over nine months ago. The footage from the trailer looked like the film beautifully mixed elements of a post-apocalyptic dystopian world with action and drama along with a great international cast in John Hurt, Ed Harris, Song Kang-ho, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton, and Chris Evens. Snowpiercer was originally supposed to have been released in the United States in late 2013 or very early 2014, but after The Weinstein Company had bought the distribution rights for North America and other countries like England and Australia Harvey Weinstein demanded that twenty minutes be cut from the two hour and five minute film. Things like this happen often when studios and distribution companies get into creative arguments with directors and writers.

I can understand why Weinstein would want cuts made to Snowpiercer. While the Snowpiercer has a great international cast I'd say outside of Chris Evens and maybe Ed Harris most of America probably wouldn't recognize the faces or names of the cast. Next Weinstein wanted the film cut so it could have more showings in a day earning more money for the studio even if it hurts the story and final product of the film. Finally I don't think Weinstein has faith in the general American viewing audience as the story elements would go over much of the audience's heads. After Bong Joon-ho refused to cut the film this lead to a long staring match between the director and Weinstein, and I believe it was a real possibility that Snowpiercer would never be released in the United States. Thankfully things change after the Snowpiercer was released in South Korea becoming I believe the highest grossing film ever in the country, and continued to do well in France, Thailand and other countries, and Harvey Weinstein blinked first agreeing to release the complete cut of Snowpiercer, which will be a limited release on June 27th as well as being released on VOD. The question now after the release delay and arguments about the film is whether Bong Joon-ho's complete film is worth it, and the answer is unequivocal yes as Snowpiercer is a nearly perfect film and the best dystopian science fiction since Children of Men, or 12 Monkeys.

The massive train with over twenty cars barrels over the ice covered planet that was once Earth carrying over one thousand passengers who are the last survivors of the human race. Over seventeen year's earlier pollution and the greenhouse gas effect has caused earth temperatures to rise with no sign of stopping. The world leaders begin to look into ways of stopping the rising of Earth's temperature without stopping or curtailing their industrial and polluting ways. That leads to the controversial CW7 that fifty seven industrialized nations say will lower the Earth's temperature. Scientists along with environmentalists and developing nations protest the use of CW7, but the leading nations ignore them, and on July 1st 2014 fifty seven nations begin to release CW7 into the upper atmosphere. In attempting to play god and control nature the human race doomed themselves, because CW7 was too effective dropping the Earth's temperature drastically within days and weeks Earth begin to freeze over leading to all life on the planet becoming extinct, and the human race not far behind. Perhaps the last human's board Wilford's futuristic luxury train in the hope of survival.

Mr. Wilford and his company wanted to build the most advanced and luxurious train in the world as well as building a railway that circ*mnavigated the world. The world laughed at him as Mr. Wilford build his train and railway that would go around the world in a year, but even as countries were planning and debating CW7 Mr. Wilford knew that it wouldn't work and prepared, and was one of the only ones or perhaps the only person truly prepared for what was to come. Now seventeen years later after the planet has frozen over the last of humanity is surviving on Mr. Wilsons train in a class system with the passengers who had bought first class tickets in the front of the train, the economy ticket holders in the middle, and the freeloaders who were just trying to survive in the back. That is where we find Curtis Everett and the rest of the beaten down lower class who have no free will. They're fed some kind of slug that looks like a gelatin brick. Their children are taken for some unknown reason as are people who can cook or play the violin, and these people are never seen again. Curtis Everett his mentor Gilliam, and the rest of the beaten down have had enough planning to take the train with the help of a security expert Namgoong Minsu who had help build and design the doors of the train who was currently locked up in the prison car. The Curtis Revolution brings a lot of sacrifices, bloodshed, and startling truths about the passengers, and the train itself.

Bong Joon-ho wrote his dark and emotionally raw script based on a French graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand, and Jean-Marc Rochette. I have never read or heard about Le Transperceneige before seeing the first Snowpiercer trailer, but apparently Bong Joon-ho came across the series in a comic shop, and the director was so captivated by the comic he read the entire series while he was at the comic book store. From what I've read Bong Joon-ho did his best to stay true to the comic and the ideas given in the story that observes the human race studying how we function, and the complexities of the human race that includes social class order, capitalist folly, humanities hubris in believing it can control nature, the price of survival in an environment of limited resources, and a look into the idea of revolution like is an uprising worth the risk if it meant the price of the majority of the revolution's followers deaths, and they might not like the answers they find at the end of their journey. In all honesty it is kind of a ridiculous premise in that an eccentric billionaire would build a luxury train line that went around the world or that so how humanity would go to a train for survival, but it is thanks the emotionally charge script, amazing acting, and great action that turned a ridiculous premise into a truly remarkable film.

Speaking of the film or the filming of Snowpiercer it was remarkable at what director Bong Jong-ho and the production crew was able to do with a forty million dollar budget. The film takes place entirely in doors in confined spaces with limited room for cameramen, actors, director and additional staff yet the production, and set designers were able to bring to life each train car with its own personality from the back of the train that looks like the slums of a major city, the prison car, a train car that was just an giant aquarium, school, night club, and more. The designers and production staff did a remarkable job with the limited space they had making each train car believable even in such a confined space. With a film that takes a place entirely in a train there wasn't much need of CGI or special effects, but when were used they were nearly flawless giving us a peak of the frozen planet as the train passed once mighty cities, downed planes, and over turned giant ships.

The action in snowpiercer was intense, gritty and violent as the production crew, extras, and actors did a superb job bringing the action to life. There are two scenes that standout the first is a huge battle between Wilford's soldiers and Curtis's army. Thinking no one is on the other side of the train cars doors Curtis and the rest aren't paying attention, but as the doors open they see an army of masked men with axes and knives making them look like a cross between soldiers and butchers. The scene is wonderfully directed and filmed as it is shown both in normal time and slow motion. The battle is intense were much blood is shed, and many lives are lost that leads to an outstanding nighttime battle as the train goes through a tunnel, and Wilford's men dawn night vision equipment. The second scene takes place on the school train car where we get a little history lesson about Wilford, and past revolutions by the teacher that leads to a gripping gun battle, massacre, and execution.

Besides the rich, dark, and emotionally captivating story the star of the film is the acting by this great international cast. Though I have never heard of Song Kang-ho before the South Korean actor does a splendid job playing Namgoong Minsu the prisoner security expert, and father to Yona (Go Ah-sung) who suspects something about the frozen Earth, the train, and along his journey to the front comes to a realization that could change everything. Tilda Swinton who I loved from the Beach and Constantine gives a devilish performance as the sadistic prime minster Mason. Ed Harris gives his best performance in many years playing the eccentric Mr. Wilford giving a speech in the climax that will make sense, but will also disturb and anger many. I can't forget to give recognition to Vlad Ivanov who plays a character with no dialogue. From the credits he played Franco the Elder who dogs Curtis and his companions throughout the train. Even without any dialogue Ivanov gives a menacing performance with just his facial expressions and the look in his eyes.

The award for the best performance in Snowpiercer goes to Mr. Captain America Chris Evans. If it is true that Evans is really going to retire from acting than he is going out giving what is his best performance of his short career. Chris plays Curtis Everett the emotionally scarred revolutionary leader who wants to forget what happened when he first boarded the train seventeen years ago, along with freeing his people from the plight in the world, and more importantly over throwing Mr. Wilford who he hates with a passion. Evens displays the true capabilities of his acting throughout the film, and in the final act gives such and emotionally charged performance as he recounts his early days on the train that I was left stunned. I was always known Chris Evens was a capable actor with strong performances in Sunshine and Cellular, but in Snowpiercer Evens gives the performance of his career.

Though Snowpiercer does have a ridiculous and actually somewhat original premise that on the surface probably shouldn't have worked on film it is thanks Bong Joon-ho writing and directing along with an outstanding production crew, and exceptional performances of his actors in particular his star Chis Evens that Snowpiercer is a dystopian sci-fi action film for the ages along with the likes of 12 Monkeys, 1984, and Children of Men making Snowpiercer a must see film for everyone.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2014
Format: Blu-ray
Just watched the full 2 hour, 6 minute version of Snowpiercer at a local theater in downtown Oklahoma City. First-rate acting from an incredibly varied cast (and one of Chris Evans' better roles), superb art and sound design (even if the CGI was a touch weak in spots) and a decent story. All for under $40M. Which begged the question: Why can't Hollywood muster the talent to do this?

So who's Harvey? That would be Harvey Weinstein of the Weinstein Company, who demanded that the director, Bong Joon-ho, cut 25 minutes from the movie's run-time, stating that their aim is to 'make sure the film will be understood by audiences in Iowa and Oklahoma'. Gee Harv, thanks for the vote of confidence, you twit...

But more importantly, thanks to Mr. Bong for sticking to his guns. I've been waiting for this movie for almost six months and figured that my first viewing would be on Blu-Ray. That's why I was amazed to wake up this morning and find it showing at a local theater.

Favorite scene: When an operative clairvoyant tells you 'Don't open the gate', you should probably listen...(see the movie to get the point; serious creepy factor...it looked like something out of a Giger sketchbook).

Weaknesses: The third act seemed a bit overlong and could have benefited from a tighter edit. Also, polar bears are one of the few predators that will track and eat humans (Minor spoiler here for what was not a real 'up' closing note...).

Overall, Snowpiercer has some cerebral elements, but is a solid actioner with a solid cast. Well done, Mr. Bong. Recommended.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
I have no idea how there are people that didn't like this movie. Did you understand the whole thing was a metaphor? If you don't understand it's a metaphor, you aren't going to like it. If you do understand, the entire thing becomes a challenge (in a good way) to understand what the point of what you are seeing is. I won't pretend that I understood everything after one viewing, but the stuff I did understand was pretty amazing.

SPOILERS:
I was also surprised by what some people thought the politics of the movie were. This was not some "Go Socialism!" plot. At first it appeared that way. But the ending doesn't fit with that message. I find the fact that some people say "I loved the message of the movie but the ending was long and I didn't understand what he was saying" very amusing. The ending was the most important part. He gets to the end of the train with only a plan to kill Wilford (basic 99% vs 1% nonsense with no positive end game). He discovers that killing Wilford won't solve anything. The problem wasn't Wilford, it was the train itself. But he can't destroy the train or its engine. He has nothing to replace it with, and they will all die if he destroys it. His political revolution is over, and he has failed.

Meanwhile, the Korean has been slowly building up his own plan to change the world for the better. His is not a political revolution. It requires no political action because the problem wasn't political to begin with. Instead of trying to figure out how to better distribute the fruits of the engine (and become party to its ugly underpinnings) he implements his own idea. He doesn't need to kill or overthrow anyone. He's been building up capital (kronole) and when the opportunity presents itself, he is ready to blow the door open and expand the available pie. He is the true revolutionary, not the political revolution hinted at up to that point. The world is fundamentally improved by technology and ideas, not by better distributing current resources.

There is so much more to be said about this movie (the significance of his arm, the kronole, the old guy from the back, etc.). I'm sure some people will disagree with my reading, but at the very least we should be able to agree it was a great thought provoking movie.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2015
Format: Amazon Instant Video
Snowpiercer is an inventive, dark and brutally violent movie that succeeds on many levels, including the emotional. You've no doubt read the synopsis elsewhere so I won't repeat it. Whereas some reviewers have deducted style point for inaccuracies, plot contrivances and unbelievable set pieces and designs, I bought into the SCI-FI underpinnings and didn't require that a fantasy thriller make perfect sense.

The movie succeeds by being a post apocalypse morality play and an inventive take on the haves vs. the have-nots on the globe circling train. Sure, the water in the hot tubs doesn't move, there are no sleeping quarters for the haves, and it's all one huge fantasy. But the conflicting emotions of those in the rear of the train provide the essential gravitas on which the class struggle story is based.

The acting is somewhat limited by the grim environment and claustrophobia of the train. None of the leads (with the exception of Tilda Swinton in a remarkably scary and disturbing turn) are pushed to expand their repertoire. It's the visuals and set design and VFX that really shine, from the train interiors to the frozen earth spectacle to the marvelously choreographed fight scenes which remind me of those in the Kill Bill series.

I was impressed with Snowpiercer, and deducted one star due to some lackluster acting and some gratuitous violence. Not for kids, but a very impressive achievement.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
Fascinated by the ride ... I found this movie original, timely, surprising, bizarre and a bit dark ...
I didn't find myself trying to guess what was going to happen next like so many movies these days.
Definitely worth watching!
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