I just watched Peninsula, the sequel to the worldwide 2016 hit zombie movie Train to Busan. I’m going to be honest, I loved Train to Busan, so I had high hopes for Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula. What did I think? Read on to find out. Heads up, there will be some spoilers.
The film picks up four years after the zombie apocalypse. We meet a completely new group of survivors, including a soldier whose family was wiped out, except for his brother in law. The two get a gig from a rich guy to go back to the peninsula along with a small group of survivors on a mission to retrieve a truckload of money. Of course, nothing goes as planned.
The main message of the movie is to remind the audience to be better people as well as the importance of family. There’s also the topic of redemption.
First off, the young teenage character drives like she’s watched The Fast and the Furious a hundred too many times but there’s no way she could have seen it. Who taught her to drive? Yes, I realize that a teen could learn to drive during the apocalypse, but she could give a professional driver a run for their money. I lost count how many times she drifted in the zombie-filled streets full of abandoned vehicles and crumbling architecture. I did not find any fault with her acting, but I do blame the writers Yeon Sang-ho and Park Joo-Suk. Second, what parents would let their teen and young daughter (between 5 and 6) run the streets in z apocalypse? No one except Rick Grimes, and look where that got him. It feels like a desperate bid to attract a younger audience.
My next issue is with the gang full morons that are meant to be more dangerous than the zombies. They aren’t scary. They hunt survivors and supplies, think Mad Max. Those caught by the gang are made to fight zombies in an areana while the group bet on who will survive. They seem silly, and not very smart, leaving Peninsula as a cross between a zombie movie and a bad Asian gangster flick.
While we are supposed to cheer for our hero played by Gang Dong-Won, more reasons were given to dislike him than to cheer for him. I had trouble finding any empathy for him.
I know things go to shit in the zombie apocalypse, but I find it hard to believe that any government would completely abandon a city and its residents with no contact or aid. I also found it hard to believe huge bridges and buildings could deteriorate so quickly.
My main gripe about Peninsula is the effects. The majority of the movie features bad CGI, including the obvious CG vehicles in the chase scenes. Most of the zombies are bad CGI as well, unlike the original.
There was a real lack of the horror that we saw with its predecessor. Sure, there’s a ton of zombies, but the sequel just doesn’t have the same je ne sais quoi. There’s a lack of the same intensity and intimacy.
Train to Busan was intense, fantastically written, and well-executed. You cheered for its characters. It was fresh, clever, and scary, all the things Peninsula isn’t. That’s why I’m giving it a 2 out of 5. It just doesn’t live up to original, like many sequels.