Monday, August 17, 2020

Peninsula / 반도 - Movie Review

The Movie: Peninsula / 반도

The Director: Yeon Sang-ho

The Cast: Gang Dong-won, Lee Jung-hyun, Lee Re as Joon, Kwon Hae-hyo, Kim Min-jae, Koo Kyo-hwan, Kim Do-yoon, Lee Ye-won, Jang So-yeon, Moon Woo-jin, Kim Kyu-baek, Bella Rahim

The Story: Jung-seok, a soldier who previously escaped the diseased wasteland, relives the horror when assigned to a covert operation with two simple objectives: retrieve and survive.

The Review:
The "sequel to Train to Busan is finally here! I've been waiting on this movie for years and while the anticipation has been high, I have also tried to temper my enthusiasm since the original is just so good, so iconic, and is one of my favorite movies of the last five years. I mean could any movie live up to that type of hype and expectation? Probably not. Still though, I really enjoyed this installment and I'm guessing we're going to see more at some point which is perfectly fine by me.

Series creator and director Yeon Sang-ho has done a great job of building out this zombie filled world with two movies that are very distinct and very different from each other to the point where I hesitate to call it a sequel. The story takes place four years after the first movie and we see how the zombie outbreak has torn apart South Korean civilization to the point where the entire peninsula has been cut off from the rest of the world. Of course, this type of situation opens up opportunity for people looking to get rich quick and have the resources to make it happen. That's the basic framework of this movie.

One thing you'll notice right away is the level of quality when it comes to the CGI and other assorted special effects. This is not Hollywood level film making with 20 different visual effects studios working on one movie (this also makes the credits much shorter which is a cool by product) so some of the movie will look like video game cut scenes, especially when Yeon drives the movie into Mad Max and Fast and Furious territory (shout out to my friend Aaron from Feelin' Film for making this comparison). That being said, I'm not really mad at the movie because it's on par with other comparable Korean and Chinese genre films so it's kind of expected.

One of the glaring differences and I guess I will say deficiencies with Peninsula when compared to Train to Busan is that I feel the characters are all more surface level when it comes to emotion and connection with the audience. The first movie plays this hand brilliantly with a focus on family and friendship that ultimately leads to some serious gut punch moments. While director Yeon does make a similar attempt at taking the audience to tissue town with more tear jerking moments, I felt like I didn't have enough of an investment in the characters for those moments to be as effective as intended. That being said, the story is still really well thought out just in a more action shoot em up type of way.

The Verdict:
Peninsula is a really fun action spectacle and I look forward to seeing what might be in store next for the franchise which technically now has three installments if you count Seoul Station. I feel like the over the top action sequences and bloated yet sloppy special effects would actually play really well on a drive in theater screen so, if you have the opportunity, definitely give it a shot. No matter what format, definitely give it a shot.

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