Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula Movie Review
What do you do to make a sequel to a movie about a bunch of zombies on a train? You can’t really make another movie about zombies on a train—too repetitive—but you can’t make a movie not set on a train—because that’s why people fell in love with the original in the first place. You could move the setting to a boat, but we all saw what happened with Speed 2. Or... you could make a slightly generic zombie movie, which is what the filmmakers decided to do with Peninsula, the semi-sequel to the highly entertaining Train to Busan.
I say “semi-sequel” because the official title is Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula, which for some reason means it isn’t a sequel despite sharing the same director (Sang-ho Yeon) and being set in the same world.
As intense as Train to Busan was—I’d describe it as downright relentless—Peninsula is... less intense.
No longer bound by the concept that worked so well the first time around, Peninsula jumps ahead to a time period where Korea has been barricaded off, leaving the remaining humans to fend for themselves amongst a nation full of flesh-eating creatures. It’s a fine idea; it’s just one that has been done before, and not just in the zombie genre. Peninsula plays like a less compelling Escape from New York, an action film set within a lawless state where colorful warlords rule and nowhere is safe. It bears similarities to other films as well, including doses of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and many others, enough so that Peninsula struggles to establish itself as something that needs to be seen. The original was fresh, exciting, fast-paced, and downright thrilling. Peninsula simply fails to hold your attention in the same way.
Even still, in a year where there’s a shortage of high octane movies, Peninsula is a coherently made and at times visceral film that at least tries to set itself apart from its predecessor. The movie boasts some solid action scenes (though I actively disliked the various CGI-driven car sequences, which look incredibly unrealistic and downright silly) and a solid set of core characters. The opening stretch is killer—frankly, the sequel actually would have been better as Boat from Busan—and other pockets show flashes of brilliance as well.
Overall, Peninsula is an entertaining zombie film... but don’t except anything as masterful or thrilling as Train to Busan.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.