Peninsula is the sequel to the 2016 South Korean zombies movie Train to Busan which was an international success. Instead of picking up from where the first movie ended, Peninsula takes place four years later and has a story that has no direct connection to Train to Busan. This itself may not necessarily be a bad thing. Given that almost everybody died by the of Train to Busan, there is little opportunity to explore the story further from the original characters’ point of view. However, this totally independent storyline approach meant it had to stand on its own with fresh characters, and new hostile situations for the survivors to face.
Train to Busan was a rare phenomenon. It was a zombies movie that had heart, and offered some refreshingly new ideas in a genre that has already been played to death by the many TV series like The Walking Dead, and copy cat movies. Its heart stopping action sequences were fast paced and often unpredictable. And the story and performances were spot and made the audience root for the main characters at the end. Language was not a barrier for the audience to connect. It was a tough act to follow. Peninsula comes four years later with presumably, a bigger budget and under the helm of the same director Sang-ho Yeon. So I cannot help feeling all pumped up for a rousing good time again with my expectations sky high. Sadly, Peninsula is a pale shadow of its predecessor and almost nothing works this time around! Much of the movie happens at night and the movie is generally dark making it difficult to see any of the zombies attacks clearly. Much of the action involved speeding cars which looked very CGI-ed. The characters were also not interesting with many sentimental moments thrown in that felt unconvincing and contrived. Only the movies’ opening act where we are introduced to the new characters leading to a zombies attack on board a ship liner offers some glimpse of what the original Train to Busan was like. The rest of the movie was mundane and familiar and felt like bad episodes from TV’s Walking Dead where characters have to fence off hostile humans more than zombies. There were also no new ideas for the action sequences and its ending felt like a cop out.
Peninsula suffers from the sequel can never be better than the original syndrome, but even though that is something that one can expect, given the high standards that Train to Busan had set, I for one have hoped for at least something more exceptional rather than this run off the mill plot ordinary direction. Hard to believe that this was directed by the same person as Train to Busan.