Peninsula opens the zombie world to the entire country and proceeds to expand the rules of survival. When Jung-Seok arrives in Korea, he’s expecting a desolate country filled only with zombies. Here the film turns Walking Dead because there are survivors.
He first runs into a group of children…like twelve years old and under. The kids foil Jung-Seok’s money heist using fireworks and RC-cars to lure the zombie horde toward them. Then in Walking Dead “Governor” fashion, we discover an armed underground faction known as Unit 631, comprised of former and forgotten military. They built a protected bunker, and only venture out to find food and supplies. Loyalty is rewarded with survival, and justice is meted out in a zombie arena.
If you’re a fan of zombie stories, Peninsula absolutely works. Writers Joo-Suk Park and Sang-Ho Yeon do a spectacular job of world-building beyond the first film. They thought a lot about how Korean survivors would pull themselves together as the rest of the world abandons them and plays into their need to live another day while giving them a brief glimmer of escape. They pack in a few skirmishes with the kids’ family and feature a fight for leadership within Unit 631. It’s what every fan of the genre wants.
“…plays into their need to live another day while giving them a brief glimmer of escape.”
My only disappointment is not building upon my feelings and high emotions after watching the first film (Remember, I watched it just minutes before seeing Peninsula). Train to Busan took its time garnering sympathy and an emotional connection with the leads, and you cared about who lived and who died. Moments of self-sacrifice meant something.
The problem with Peninsula is by expanding the world to the entire country and adding dozens of new characters. Adequate time is not given to building an emotional story. Sure, no one wants to see kids become zombies, but that’s not enough to play with our emotions. Jung-Seok starts as a thief forcing him to earn our sympathy over time, which works, but not strong enough to care as we did in the original.
Don’t get me wrong. Peninsula is a fantastic zombie movie, a proper sequel to Train to Busan, and yes, I want to see another one. But the human story that worked so well in the first is missing, which means we have yet another sequel that doesn’t live up to the original.
"…a spectacular job of world-building beyond the first film."