When Train to Busan hit theaters, it became a sensational hit for the right reasons. It manages to become an enjoyable blockbuster yet with smart social commentary and emotional moments that (I need to admit) made me cry. 4 years later, Peninsula – the sequel – hit the theaters with high ambition but fail to reach the height of its predecessor as it falls into the ordinary sequel trap.
4 years after the events of Train to Busan, a former marine, Jung-Seok (Gang Dong-won) must return and retrieve something at now-abandoned Korea in order to be accepted by the society outside their homeland. I really appreciate how they took a new approach to the zombie sequels with a new setting. However, bigger doesn’t always mean better as the world-building lacked in the concept details of that never reach the tension felt in its predecessor.
Perhaps the above reason can’t be blame due to its small yet important component: characters. A large number of characters also resulted in less screen-time, making it hard to have in-depth sympathy with the characters. The characters also felt flat with its two-dimensional personality, making it hard for the characters to be likable even when the actors have given their best to portray them. As a result, it lacks emotional attachment and even scares to deliver.
Still, I can’t deny on how much entertaining Peninsula has to offer. Yeon Sang-ho’s use of camerawork and how he directs the action sequence make the film watchable. I preferably like the first chase scene with zombies and the survival game. The survival game especially, really showcases his direction with his one-take. The visual style could be deemed as unique as well, showing abandoned Korea as dirty and chaotic yet beautifully eye-catching. Although I need to say that the CG in its car scene is extremely rough that you somehow looking more of a video game than a live-action film.
Overall, Peninsula is could never reach its predecessor quality as a smart blockbuster with a high emotional level. However, its entertainment value, if almost, could still reach what it had left 4 years ago. Just don’t expect too much to use your brain and have fun as you visit Peninsula.
Review by acinemalens