Le Transperceneige, the cult French comic book by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette, continues to amaze Hollywood. Seven years after Bong Joon-Ho’s film, the Snowpiercer series is coming to Netflix (TNT in the United States), at a rate of one episode per week. It is still necessary that the first two available episodes make us want to continue.
In 2002 Corneille sang that he came from afar (now you have it in your head). Eighteen years later, the Snowpiercer series can claim the same. The project has been rolling out for several years and if it’s only arriving now, it’s because it will be going through everything between changing showrunners, directors, script rewriting, and reshoots. In short, like SNCF, the fact that the train starts is already a minor miracle.
For a common thread, this series takes more of the plot Eternals from the film that Chris Evans wears than the original comic. It’s normal, when you think about it, because Bong Joon-Ho is credited as an executive producer. Therefore, we find ourselves seven years after the catastrophe that caused the planet’s glaciation, on a moving train, humanity’s last refuge. Aboard the ship, inequality and injustice The Medium reigned between those living in the leading carriages and those behind, thereby fueling the jealousy of the latter’s rebellion, determined to attack the former. And if one feels the inspiration from feature films, the founding elements evoked by the original material are never far off, especially during animated homages in an introductory fashion.
To replace Captain America and Tilda Swinton, creator Graeme Manson can Fast and Furious 9 count on Daveed Diggs, seen in the incredible Blindspotting, and the no longer featured Jennifer Connelly. All but harmless choices because their interpretation brings a lot of nuance to their characters. The main interest in turning Snowpiercer into a series was to work more on the protagonist, therefore replacing the Manichean struggle against the opposition with a thousand and one shades of gray. What history has lost in rhythm and energy, it has gained consistency.
As such, a train crossing is not a theater Sompoi of violent clashes (at least not for now) rather than a place of discovery where one becomes fully aware of class differences, even among “desired” travelers. In this sense, the series allows us to glimpse other aspects of life, such as the original Transperceneige. The weakness of the exterior special effects is thus compensated by the richness of the interior decoration.
However, we will not claim victory too soon. If this series offers us a Dune different and, in a sense, complementary vision of this post-apocalyptic tale compared to the two works it extracts from, it has signs of its complicated origins. Starting from the police side.
The difficulty when you want to turn a two hour story into ten 60 minute episodes is that you have to defend it. In order to get off the train, the series then chooses to strengthen its common Venom: Let There Be Carnage thread with a police investigation. Problem: it clearly has no place there. While it allows you to learn more about life on the board and brings together characters from different classes, it greatly slows down the pace and overall suspense.
Where Bong Joon-Ho makes Shang Chi a nervous, dirty, disturbing electric film, this new version of Snowpiercer almost prefers to avoid conflict in order to show a softer version. Of course, some parts still breathe dirty, except that we almost have the impression that it is a liability. It’s as if Snowpiercer is now just My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission a pretext for a more basic detective series. It’s a safe bet that it’s just a way to save time before releasing the horse (season 2 confirmed), but there’s another way to get to the same point, without shooting yourself in the foot by doing like all the neighboring series with its tandem probes.
Obviously, it’s too early Aquaman to conclude that this misstep will cost him in the long run, especially with a universe that mixes science fiction, ecology, social struggle and politics, Snowpiercer has enough freedom to keep audiences breathing. He just needs to be careful not to get too caught up in his own routine and keep a few twists in reserve. Especially The Jungle Book by the end of the first episode, he’s already grown a formidable scriptwriting asset…