Adapted from the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, Bong Joon-ho’s 2013 sci-fi action dystopia Snowpiercer was a visually stunning film featuring a fantastic cast and a unique, compelling story. That’s why there was skepticism when it was first announced (all the way back in 2015, which was 40 years ago) that it was being developed as a TV show. Could it possibly live up to the film? Was there enough of a premise to extend the story into to a television show? Would a lot of the honest brutality of the story be diminished by being on basic cable?
Numerous delays, problems, and some very public airings of grievances didn’t do much to help make anyone feel better about its prospects. But at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, TBS finally released a trailer for the show. After all that time and all those issues, did it deliver on the promise of the movie? …Kinda, because it looks exactly like the film.
“Set more than seven years after the world has become a frozen wasteland, Snowpiercer centers on the remnants of humanity, who inhabit a gigantic, perpetually-moving train that circles the globe. Class warfare, social injustice and the politics of survival play out in this riveting television adaptation.”
The good news is that the show looks great aesthetically. In this trailer, we see far more of the opulent, rich part of the train; the glimpses we got of those at the back assure us that the class divide will be as stark as it was in the movie. The bad news is the main story looks so much like the movie that we don’t know what will make this different and worthy of our time. Jennifer Connolly and Daveed Diggs ensure that the cast will live up to expectations, but will that be enough to help the show break through the glut of viewing options we have today?
It’s a cold television world out there, and most shows don’t also have the burden of living up to an excellent movie. Being exactly like the movie probably isn’t the way to overcome some icy expectations.
Snowpiercer, which also stars Alison Wright, Mickey Sumner, Lena Hall, and Steven Ogg, still doesn’t come to TBS until spring 2020.