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Zombie time! Review of Train to Busan presents: Peninsula (2020) and Review of #Alive a.k.a. #Saraitda (2020)

genre: horror, action, drama

Train to Busan almost came out of nowhere in a time zombie fatigue was at it's highest. Yet it managed to surprise the majority of film fans. The film was proof you still can be creative and fresh in a genre that has been done to death. Naturally any production tied to this title will at least generate the same expectations. When the news hit me that a sequel was coming I got excited. After seeing the trailer I actually was happy. Since it looked real promising. Then Covid-19 happened and almost everything came to a stop. Film productions all over the world halted. I had very little to no hope we would get to watch any major film this year despite the optimism some politicians and film makers had. But then Peninsula arrived and I couldn't be happier. Alas it soon turned into sadness and disappointment.

Whatever this was it had very little or nothing to do with Train to Busan. Apart from it taking part in the same world I couldn't detect a connection to the original. Nor was there a connection to the prequel in the franchise, Seoul Station (2016). Director Yeon Sang-ho apparently has stated that Peninsula is more a spiritual sequel than a direct sequel. And to be honest I am fine with that. However than at least this sequel has to be equal quality wise. I could forgive and overlook the obvious CGI effects. But what is hard to swallow is the lack of drama and investment into the characters. I hardly cared about any of them since it is expected of you to care for them instead of the film motivating you to care for them. Now had the action and adventure elements been more convincing I also could have overlooked that. 

Unfortunately it's here where the film truly lets down since it points out why it's important to care for the characters. Without the investment the action simply is not exciting enough. Sure there was some zombie action that were surprising and creative. Only those moments didn't last that long. Most of the action consist of driving sequences. It's these scenes that look very fake. The cars went too fast. And you could tell it was CGI. Had they slowed it down for example it already would have improved things significantly. This makes me think that for some reason they have forced this production to be released early. It's like they rushed the editing and any other post processing to make this happen. My question is why? I mean nobody was expecting this film to come out early and most fans would have preferred it had they worked on the film a little longer.

Overall Peninsula is a real disappointment compared to previous films in the franchise. But the action is decent enough if you can manage to overlook the bad CGI.

Perhaps they were aware #Alive was also making it's way to theaters and wanted to steal away the thunder from that film. Who knows? Except #Alive is a much better film.

Review #Alive a.k.a. #Saraitda (2020)

I honestly wasn't expecting much from #Alive since it looked like it was going to a by the numbers zombie film. And yet I found myself enjoying it quite a lot.

The film is energetic and quite fast paced. Yet it never feels like it does. When needed the film does take a few moments to slow down and give you some insight into the psychology of the main characters. It's not much but enough to make you root for them. Very essential for films like these. Especially when some of the actions of these characters are a bit moronic. Then again they are human after all and normal humans make a lot of mistakes. At least these characters learn from them. And they are pretty inventive. I liked how main character Oh Joon-woo made good use of the drone he had. Personally I have very conflicted feelings about drones and the way they are used. However in this films examples are shown that I consider positive and beneficial. 

I do think that #Alive has borrowed some of the zombie tropes from Train to Busan, as in that they are fast and act like they do. Especially in the way they turn into the monsters. But it's immensely unnerving and effective so I do understand that this has been copied.

While I was watching this film I constantly had this feeling that most of the premise seemed familiar to me. Obviously with zombie films that is almost a given. However this feeling got stronger since even some of the major events played out the same in a film I had seen, The Night Eats The World. This has a very similar premise. Except it was far more slow paced and showed more of the problems someone faces when locked down in an apartment. It's almost like the film makers of #Alive had seen this film and decided to make a bigger and faster paced version of this. 

In any case this one I can definitely recommend since it's entertaining from start to finish. 


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