Though superhero films are popular, critics generally dismiss the actors who portray these franchise juggernauts as inferior. In “Snowpiercer” and “The Iceman”, Chris Evans dispels these opinions by playing more than the typical superhero. While the vast majority of the public were anticipating Evans’ beautiful face and physique in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” two films that showcased a broader range of acting depth came and went. Luckily for audiences, they have entered the theater afterlife, aka Netflix.
What is it? Based off the French graphic novel, “Le Transperceneige,” this film is an icy dystopian world set about seventeen years in the future. To combat global warming, a slew of countries released an airborne agent into the atmosphere to cool down the earth. This agent worked to the extreme, freezing the planet to such subzero temperatures that no life would survive. Enter Snowpiercer, a circumnavigating, self-sustaining locomotive built by the venerated Mr. Wilford. Now, seventeen years after this unnatural disaster, the train has been separated into class cars, those at the back of the train live life in squalor, while those in front live a life of luxury. It is up to Curtis Everett (played by Evans) to lead the tail section in a futuristic peasant’s revolt. Directed by South Korean filmmaker Joon-ho Bong, in his English-language film debut, this film is a thrilling ride from start to finish.
Why you should be watching: For those who love dystopian or social justice entertainment, Snowpiercer is a must watch. In this film, Evans truly proves the depth of his acting ability. His character, Curtis Everett, is complex. On the one hand, he is a heroic leader, unifying his people; on the other, he is nearly a coward, full of guilt and self-doubt. And Evans’ character isn’t the only one who shines in this dark tale. Octavia Spencer (“The Help,” “Being John Malkovich”), John Hurt (“V for Vendetta,” “Alien”), Tilda Swinton (“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe”; “We Need to Talk About Kevin”), and Kang-ho Song (“The Host,” “Memories of Murder”) all deliver vivid performances. Arguably the best part of this film is its authentic feel. True, there are some fantastical elements to this film, but the events that occur throughout Snowpiercer all seem plausible. While the ending is very existential and a bit disconnected from the rest of the story, this film is a visually rich narrative driven by plot and character.
The Iceman (2013)
What is it? The Iceman is based on the true story of mobster hitman Richard Kuklinski, played brilliantly by Michael Shannon (“Man of Steel,” “Take Shelter”). A wonderful period piece that neither condones nor condemns its protagonist. Rather, this narrative chooses to focus on the complexities of a man who, following a childhood full of abuse, is an emotional time bomb who cares about nothing except his wife and daughters. Despite the dark overtone of this film, a surprisingly touching story unfolds. The Iceman effectively represents the family atmosphere and dynamic of the 1960s-1980s as the husband/father provides for the family, and is in complete control of the affairs of the household. Richard Kuklinski is able to deceive/hide from his family the facts of what his job really is during his entire career.
Why you should be watching: The Iceman isn’t a typical gangster film. Interestingly, this narrative is more of a family drama, with the hits/killings as a backdrop to the real story— one that explains how a family man was able to balance being a loving, caring and well-providing husband while committing such heinous, merciless acts. In addition to the compelling story, the cast is equally compelling. While Chris Evans isn’t the star of this film, his character, Robert ‘Mr. Freezy’ Pronge, plays an important role. Evans’ character is also a hitman, though he looks more like a pedophile than a contract killer (the fact that he drives and operates a beat-up ice cream truck solidifies that look). The supporting cast of this film includes Winona Ryder (“Edward Scissorhands,” “Black Swan”) playing Kuklinski’s wife, Ray Liotta (“Goodfellas,” “Identity”) as Kuklinski’s boss, and features somewhat surprising appearances by James Franco (“127 Hours,” “This is the End”) and David Schwimmer (“Friends,” “Madagascar”). The Iceman is a thrilling, intimate story that captivates one’s full attention from start to finish.
Claire Farrow can be reached at Claire.firstname.lastname@example.org.