News

Snowpiercer Season 1 First Reviews: Great Action, Dull Mystery, and a Big Departure from Bong Joon-ho's Cult Hit

Critics say thrilling action sequences and an exceptional performance from Jennifer Connelly could be enough to keep some fans from hopping off of TNT's highly anticipated sci-fi thriller.

by | May 13, 2020 | Comments

Before he won an Academy Award with Parasite, director Bong Joon-ho made the politically-charged sci-fi thriller Snowpiercer, which followed a non-stop bullet train filled with the last remnants of humanity as the rest of the planet got turned into an uninhabitable icy wasteland. The result was a widely celebrated film starring Chris Evans, so it’s not surprising that we’d get a TV adaptation.

The first season of TNT’s version of Snowpiercer adds a murder mystery on top of the sci-fi tale of class warfare from the movie and the graphic novels by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette. The show takes place seven years after the world became a frozen wasteland and the perpetually moving train started going around the globe with the last 3,000 survivors aboard. Andre Layton (Daveed Diggs) is the world’s last homicide detective, the de facto leader of the low-class tail-section of the train and the person tasked with solving a murder so the people at the front of the train can keep him in check before he goes and starts a revolution. The person that hires him? Melanie Cavill (Jennifer Connelly), the voice of the train and the right-hand woman of the train’s builder, the mysterious Mr. Wilford.

Does the series live up to the original movie? Here’s what critics are saying about Snowpiercer season 1:


JENNIFER CONNELLY SHINES AS A COMPLICATED FIGURE

Jennifer Connelly in Snowpiercer episode 101

(Photo by TNT)

Playing someone more human than Tilda Swinton did in the film, Connelly nicely juggles Melanie’s icy, passengers-facing facade with the MIT and Yale grad’s warmer private life.
– Matt Webb Mitovich, TV Line

As the co-lead, Connelly’s Melanie is compelling in a way that is subtly genius, and will probably provoke discourse and political parallels as audiences watch the series. While her character could easily serve as a sort of patron saint for white feminism, her nuances and flaws are peeled back in a fascinating way as the season goes along.
– Jenna Anderson, ComicBook.com

The Academy Award winner for A Beautiful Mind is magnificent playing this many-faceted woman. She can be warm and welcoming, commanding and authoritarian or simply menacing in a matter of instants. It’s a role that proves, once again, that TV tends to reward established actresses with opportunities hardly found in movies.
– Patricia Puentes, CNET


THERE’S A MURDER-MYSTERY PLOT, AND IT’S KINDA DULL

Sam Otto, Daveed Diggs, Alison Wright, and Jennifer Connelly, in Snowpiercer season 1

(Photo by Justina Mintz/TNT)

Snowpiercer the TV show is a murder mystery — and not an intriguing one by any means — for a large part of its first season, with revolution on the back burner until Layton can figure out who’s trying out for an arc on Criminal Minds by hacking people to pieces.
– Tim Surette, TV Guide

Though Season 1 does revolve around the same tail section rebellion as the film, it takes a half-season detour when Layton, a former homicide detective, gets escorted up-train to solve a grisly execution. For about four episodes, “Snowpiercer” veers way too close to becoming a TNT police procedural, a la “Murder on the Polar Express.”
– Ben Travers, IndieWire

It takes the same core concept and expands on it, replacing inexplicable mystery with dull exposition. Some of that was probably necessary in order to sustain an ongoing series, but it misses the point of adapting such strange, singular source material.
– Josh Bell, CBR


EVERYTHING LOOKS MORE SPACIOUS IN THE SERIES

Lena Hall and Jennifer Connelly Snowpiercer Ep 105

(Photo by Justina Mintz/TNT)

Snowpiercer definitely captures the aesthetic established in the film, albeit in a largely less-surreal way. The set designs and costumes are an authentic blend of grounded and avant-garde, again contributing to the feeling that the train is truly lived-in. The cinematography also actively helps the series feel less claustrophobic than it could be, which is a blessing for those who are hoping to spend 10 hours with the series.
– Jenna Anderson, ComicBook.com

As episodes further explore the train, giant stages, generous lighting, and plenty of wide shots give the impression of more room than there could possibly be, while illustrating admirable production design, vivid costuming, and skillful world-building of its own. This isn’t Bong’s “Snowpiercer,” it’s TNT’s.
– Ben Travers, IndieWire

Visually, TV’s Snowpiercer is not as claustrophobic as the big-screen version; the individual sets all seem to be as narrow or spacious as they need to be, though always within a certain amount of reason (especially if you are able to buy into the notion of a 1,001-car train).
– Matt Webb Mitovich, TV Line


THERE IS PLENTY OF BLOODY ACTION

Daveed Diggs and Sheila Vand in Snowpiercer Ep 101

(Photo by Justina Mintz/TNT)

The action scenes are efficiently staged, if a little jarring as they are dropped in. There are violent riots, battles between the rebels and the security force, and a stunt in which an unlikely crew member makes a repair while hanging upside down under the train in protective gear that looks like a space suit.
– Caryn James, BBC

What will really keep the audience returning to Snowpiercer week after week are the widely varied action sequences, which will either glue the viewers to the edge of their seats or have them leaping up and shouting at their televisions as the tensions mount.
– Michael Ahr, Den of Geek


UNLIKE THE MOVIE, IT’S WEIRDLY OPTIMISTIC

Daveed Diggs and Katie McGuinness in Snowpiercer - Ep 101

(Photo by Justina Mintz/TNT)

In direct opposition to the film, the show Snowpiercer tries to make humanity thrive on one narrow, icy railroad, hurtling toward the future.
– Sonia Saraiya, Vanity Fair

It bakes in a very earnest sense of hope and optimism. It’s clear that many within Snowpiercer are mourning the world that no longer exists, while also hoping that their “new normal” can be rebuilt into something greater and ideologically better.
– Jenna Anderson, ComicBook.com


WILL IT PLEASE FANS OF BONG’S FILM?

Snowpiercer film (2014)

(Photo by Radius-TWC)

It’s a clearly inferior version of something that was already great and never needed to be revisited again. But even without taking the film’s existence into consideration, it lacks a certain edge that’s needed to stand out.
– Tim Surette, TV Guide

If the movie ever left you wanting to dive deeper into the various train sections, or learn more about the how of sustaining a society aboard a perpetually moving vehicle, the series (which is already renewed for Season 2) promises to answer such questions.
– Matt Webb Mitovich, TVLine

It doesn’t stay with you the way that Bong’s Snowpiercer did, but where the film was so eager to tear through the train to root out the truth, the show savors the details of life onboard, dissecting personal compromises and minor rebellions.
– Sonia Saraiya, Vanity Fair

#1
Adjusted Score: 68.636%
Critics Consensus: Snowpiercer takes a different route with its source material, crafting an ambitious sci-fi mystery with style to spare, but with little of the subversive bite of Bong Joon-ho's theatrical adaptation.
Synopsis: Remnants of humanity live in a perpetually moving train after the world becomes a frozen wasteland in this futuristic drama... [More]

Tag Cloud

Crackle Ovation Red Carpet Extras Winter TV 2017 ITV E! historical drama crime drama Mary Poppins Returns vampires History Character Guide spanish language Trailer Premiere Dates scene in color TCA Awards RT History superman Certified Fresh Netflix telelvision Britbox deadpool sitcom boxoffice Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt sequel Anna Paquin cooking facebook natural history Music casting reboot witnail Spring TV Polls and Games X-Men golden globe awards Arrowverse adaptation venice teaser docudrama Lucasfilm Comedy Central comedies Marvel Studios TV renewals australia ratings unscripted PlayStation Brie Larson nbcuniversal fast and furious remakes New York Comic Con Esquire AMC CNN Sundance Now stoner Fox News emmy awards lord of the rings Warner Bros. dc kong Pacific Islander Nickelodeon festival The Academy franchise Trivia chucky obituary SDCC streaming movies Sony Pictures spinoff canceled aliens CMT robots TCA Winter 2020 streaming anthology First Look doctor who Pirates Infographic Biopics Lifetime HBO Go TLC The Arrangement award winner cops rt archives Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Columbia Pictures Sneak Peek screenings First Reviews satire true crime composers Disney quibi superhero Holiday TCA DirecTV dragons ABC Sundance TV LGBT USA foreign Baby Yoda ID anime Kids & Family Television Critics Association kaiju Amazon Prime Video japanese romantic comedy documentary Awards cats political drama Rom-Com Food Network Western 2021 Cartoon Network aapi Amazon Studios Walt Disney Pictures Ellie Kemper Adult Swim docuseries Pop TV movie live action Tarantino green book PaleyFest mockumentary IFC Paramount Plus Fall TV Captain marvel asian-american 45 nature Countdown nfl french Comics on TV cancelled television Pride Month 4/20 Musical BET Amazon Prime classics stop motion Bravo HBO Chernobyl Turner Classic Movies adventure blockbusters Drama cartoon Tomatazos TCA 2017 ViacomCBS Writers Guild of America WarnerMedia Hallmark Family Box Office Cosplay discovery cancelled TV series Epix TV Land romance DC Universe dceu spanish game show OWN spain American Society of Cinematographers godzilla Starz FXX Musicals VICE travel zombie IFC Films GLAAD mission: impossible Winners 2015 OneApp 20th Century Fox sports USA Network E3 2020 Lifetime Christmas movies Marvel name the review Nominations Action TV One Exclusive Video finale Reality Competition Black Mirror diversity A&E ESPN women boxing comic Comic Book Set visit critics BAFTA Mindy Kaling Trophy Talk Song of Ice and Fire news breaking bad Superheroes razzies elevated horror reviews 2018 FX on Hulu Thanksgiving sag awards biography new york 2019 crime MCU Quiz CBS Television Academy comiccon National Geographic CW Seed archives hidden camera Podcast police drama Mystery ABC Family Valentine's Day technology CBS All Access Spectrum Originals cancelled TV shows serial killer Amazon GIFs Sci-Fi LGBTQ Disney Plus renewed TV shows Shondaland Crunchyroll Mary Tyler Moore The Walking Dead popular harry potter MTV cinemax Christmas laika indiana jones Video Games Lionsgate 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards MSNBC YouTube Red Disney streaming service Disney+ Disney Plus golden globes 71st Emmy Awards king kong Dark Horse Comics what to watch Opinion stand-up comedy 99% Vudu jamie lee curtis heist movie social media Showtime Best and Worst Broadway Logo Mary poppins Star Wars 007 slashers based on movie Oscars new star wars movies Alien fresh NBC book halloween comic books Stephen King indie monster movies Reality The CW Syfy 93rd Oscars movies Rock scary movies WGN black 72 Emmy Awards President comics Hallmark Christmas movies Emmys Photos independent target HBO Max Acorn TV all-time series video jurassic park TV movies Universal rotten screen actors guild joker Awards Tour TIFF free movies versus DC Comics YouTube science fiction video on demand halloween tv Ghostbusters Apple TV+ Fantasy Grammys VOD television die hard singing competition Summer directors Comedy Paramount BBC America The Purge Legendary Holidays south america international Emmy Nominations universal monsters marvel cinematic universe richard e. Grant revenge supernatural Star Trek psycho Martial Arts latino canceled TV shows The Walt Disney Company Sundance book adaptation 24 frames Hulu toronto spy thriller james bond strong female leads prank Cannes Pet Sematary scorecard Schedule Hear Us Out Marvel Television Academy Awards Disney Channel talk show Endgame transformers high school thriller saw festivals Horror worst movies Toys children's TV documentaries Avengers Film Festival animated TV SXSW a nightmare on elm street crossover RT21 hollywood Classic Film A24 BBC miniseries Nat Geo FX war twilight worst sequels TruTV rom-coms space Election Interview Tumblr DGA Watching Series rotten movies we love hist zero dark thirty kids football Apple ABC Signature San Diego Comic-Con trailers Superheroe zombies batman medical drama cars Turner spider-man Elton John werewolf DC streaming service The Witch TBS tv talk TNT ghosts SundanceTV crime thriller child's play Image Comics Super Bowl APB Spike Masterpiece cults Year in Review Shudder PBS Travel Channel TCM period drama Mudbound know your critic christmas movies Apple TV Plus Pixar dramedy Calendar disaster criterion Black History Month Teen best BET Awards Fox Searchlight theme song YA YouTube Premium pirates of the caribbean FOX Binge Guide binge NYCC Funimation new zealand VH1 Film dogs toy story Pop mutant blaxploitation GoT politics Creative Arts Emmys dark Women's History Month Peacock Tubi See It Skip It films parents 21st Century Fox cancelled justice league Netflix Christmas movies italian BBC One Animation Rocky Marathons blockbuster El Rey Paramount Network Country Rocketman Discovery Channel concert game of thrones 2016 Heroines psychological thriller Freeform hispanic