Snowpiercer is confrontational and alien even though the faces are welcome and familiar: Chris Evans, John Hurt, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton, etcetera....
On my first viewing (there will be another) I tumbled through a cascade of dischordant feelings from revulsion to pleasure, from excitement to confusion, from ehhh? to awe! I'm not sure I quite got to "love" (that takes more time with the chilly pictures and for once I wished the movie I was watching was longer) but it's a must-see with enough ambition and visceral excitement to charge a handful of lesser movies. Why is it in limited release like an arthouse curio? It could easily be sold, and not fraudulently, as a sci-fi action flick with Captain America himself leading its linear (in both sense of the word) charge through a speeding allegory train.
In many years of running a movie blog I have struggled in the chasm between my preferred viewing style (cold, with no knowledge of the movie beyond premise/director/cast) and the reality of moviegoing in the 21st century when you know EVERYTHING in advance. Snowpiercer has been open for exactly 6 days and on only 8 screens in the US and there's already articles at major sites analyzing its ending. Before 99% of its audience ever gets a chance to see it.
Yet somehow, bless the cinema gods, I had escaped ANY knowledge of Snowpiercer beyond the post-production battle over the final cut and its basic premise (Earth has frozen over / Only survivors live on a train). I was intrigued by the eccentric Global cast list and its South Korean director (seek out his inventive monster movie The Host and his incredible actressy mystery Mother) and that was it. Somehow -- and I don't know how I managed it -- I had never seen a single clip or trailer. I was THRILLED the entire time, never knowing what lurked beyond each gate on the train, or how important each actor would be to the plot, and surprised virtually every time by the shifting visuals and forward charging action beats.
Speaking of forward charging: Luke Pasqualino, a 25 year-old British Italian actor I wasn't previously familiar with, is mesmerizing in fleet-footed action as "Grey". He's also ridiculously easy on the eyes despite the fact that the entire cast looks like they haven't bathed in 3 years. Can he be in every action movie now? (I guess I'll have to watch some of his TV work - any recommendations?)
Seeing a movie cold is impossible to do regularly of course -- especially when you run a movie blog and know that the biggest traffic drivers are future-based (trailers, Oscar predictions, casting). That's why most movie blogs focus solely on what's yet to come that endless grind of rumors and speculation, rather than time-travelling constantly like this one does.
But I highly suggest trying this experiment - no clips, trailers, reviews - valiantly for ONE movie you're looking forward to this year. Pick that movie. See if it changes the experience and makes that particular film instantly exciting and less predictable while you're watching.