Sommerleigh Pollonais – Horror Head Writer
Damn. How the mighty have fallen.
Train to Busan was a breath of fresh air to the zombie genre. A movie that managed to do what no other zombie movie ever did for me before – deliver adrenaline fuel action while connecting on a deep emotional level, the likes of which I’ve never seen or felt watching these type of films. So like most other people, when I heard there was going to be a sequel, brought to me by the same director and co-writer of the original screenplay Sang-ho Yeon, well to call me excited would be an understatement.
Sadly, Peninsula turned out to be a hollow shell of its predecessor. A movie that had all the right ingredients, yet none of the heart, energy or sophistication of the first.
Set four years after Train to Busan, the story focuses on Jung Seok (Dong-Won Gang), a soldier who during the initial outbreak made some questionable decisions in his pursuit to protect his family, only to see everything fall apart in the worst way. He’s then asked to return to the Peninsula with a group of misfits, to retrieve a huge sum of cash that was lost. And in doing so, is given a second chance to finally do the right thing.
It’s a solid premise for a sequel that should’ve been as fun, heartfelt and engaging as the first movie. Instead our lead hero feels like he’s sleepwalking through his role. I never got a sense of who he truly was as his performance lacks any substance or nuance. Honestly, he’s more of a zombie than the actual zombies on screen.
And speaking of the undead, this time around they went for a lot, and I mean A LOT more CGI than the first film, so most of the action sequences play like you’re watching video game footage than an actual movie. World War Z had more believable looking hordes and that’s saying something!
The rest of the cast (with the exception of three people I’ll get to later) is just as bad. Our villains are cookie-cutter bad guys with no sense of how they got to be the way they are. We get a Neegan knock-off named Sergeant Hwang and a bunch of other disposable types not even worth mentioning.
Truthfully, Train to Busan didn’t have villains in the true sense of the word, it had scared people making decisions based on fear, which made them relatable and in a word, human. The human element and the relationships formed during that crisis is a large part of what made that story work.
This movie instead chooses to focus on action set pieces that felt like a mash up of The Walking Dead meets Mad Max meets Left 4 Dead. That last one being a video game folks.
The only light in this bleak tunnel of a film is shined by the ladies of this world. Specifically a mother and her two daughters. Min-Jung played by actress Jung-hyun Lee is outstanding in her role. And if you asked me, the whole movie plot line should’ve centered around her and her fight to survive and protect her young precocious daughters. They were the best things about this film and they were relegated to a sub plot for much of the movie’s runtime.
Long story short, Peninsula was the biggest disappointment fo me (movie-wise) this year. What should’ve been a strong sequel and a fun movie ended up being just another generic zombie flick to add to the pile of them that are out there.
I never thought I would be saying this about the sequel to Train to Busan, but skip it and go watch a much better Korean zombie movie that dropped this year called #Alive instead.
Rating: 4.5 out of 10
For more of my thoughts on Peninsula you can watch my video review here. For my review of #Alive you can click here. And for more deep dives into the shambling undead you can follow Redmangoreviews on Facebook here.
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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