Watched Snowpiercer. Some parts were good, some parts were bad, but the whole is sadly no better than the worst parts. The abstract concept of all of humanity being stuck in one metal can is great, but this implementation is a failure. (Haven’t read the comic.)
We start by setting up what life is like in the back of the train. It sucks. Then comes the revolt and we move forward through the train to first class, where everything is wonderful and lovely. I think we’re supposed to imagine a privileged few living at the expense of many poor, but the illusion falls apart when you realize there are more first class passengers dancing at a rave than huddled masses living in the back. There was an opportunity here to do something with class lifestyles, but it’s squandered for a few moments of cinematography.
There’s a few plot twists, but the characters don’t seem to adjust. The relentless Terminator style evil henchman remains hellbent on death and dismemberment long after the bad guys turned into good guys faced with hard choices. Other characters’ hidden objectives could have been easily resolved earlier. Perhaps this was some sort of political parable, but it really falls flat.
I enjoyed Pandorum much more, which got terrible reviews compared to the absurdly great reviews for Snowpiercer. In that case, it’s a spaceship that contains the last of humanity, but general outline is the same. A small group of heroes has to get from point A to point B in the giant metal can they call home, all the while battling enemies through a sequence of strange environments. What makes one movie “brilliant and fearless” and the other “lazily derivative” I cannot imagine. At least the Pandorum ship was conceivably large enough to house all its occupants; I have no idea where an entire car full of jackbooted thugs materialized from on the train.
Many years ago I read The Dark Beyond the Stars, which I think is the best take on the concept.