February 4, 2023

Brighton Journal

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JUNG_E review: The Train to Busan director makes excellent sci-fi on Netflix

Right from the start, the new movie to Netflix from Train to Busan And Peninsula Writer-director Yoon Sang-ho brings to mind other sci-fi films, as do many genre films. For American audiences, at least, the opening sequences and other moments in JUNG_E We will remember movies like Alita: Battle AngelAnd the Paradiseand other photos by Neil Blomkamp, ​​plus imaginary dangerin a later period of the Terminator series such as Stopand Alex Proyas’ version of The I’m a robot.

Not that these phrases seem to represent a uniformly fine, stunningly curated collection of sci-fi classics. alita Wonderful And imaginary risk Not appreciatedWhile terminator salvation It is interestingly wrong at best. Collectively, these movies may not have actually inspired Yoon: He’s from South Korea and started his career in animation, so he may have a whole other set of influences in mind. But modern sci-fi movies are very quick to draw from the same sources – Blade Runnerthe original star WarsAnd alien Any movie that refers to a different breed is an eye-catcher.

JUNG_E It’s also attractive because it opens with a cracking action sequence, in which mercenary Yoon Jung-yi (Kim Hyun-joo) fights her way through a group of robot soldiers in a bluish junkyard landscape. As the scene begins to look increasingly video game-like, the film seems to anticipate this idea, stepping back to show that the film’s heroine is occupying a virtual space. The real Jung Yi is in a coma after a major battle. Now, scientists working for a large corporation put AI clones of it through the same battle, in hopes that some clone will figure out how to survive it–and become the great warrior needed to win the ongoing civil war.

There’s a lot of lore to be had, straight from the top: The movie is set at the end of the 22nd century. Earth is uninhabitable, so humanity has moved into space, where they split into two factions engaged in seemingly endless armed conflict. The film, shot mostly in and around the lab’s facilities, only shows virtual glimpses of the war. The chief researcher of the AI ​​project is Yoon Seo-hyun (Kang Soo-young), who is contradicted by the fact that she is also Jung-yi’s daughter. Her silence contrasts sharply with the insane, sometimes goofy Sang-hoon (Ryu Kyung-soo), the team leader who focused more on money, pleasing his company bosses, and, as he puts it, “showmanship.”

JUNG_E It starts with that thrilling battle scene, and ends with a bigger and better sequence, with visual effects that are slightly cartoonish yet effective (and, when needed, appropriately heavy). However, it is not exactly an action movie. In the long period between states of chaos, it goes through several world-building, speculative drama, and a few plot twists that intentionally undermine both the characters’ and audience’s expectations of where the story could logically go.

Knowing the film’s bizarre structure beforehand might spoil some of the sense of discovery in an impressively unpredictable film. On the other hand, less patient viewers might be forgiven for assuming, about halfway through, that Yoon has wandered too far and lost his momentum. Sometimes it’s frustrating when the story cuts out to Jung-yi; Whether in human form in flashbacks or robot form in the present, she is the most attractive character in the film, while her eldest daughter Seo-hyun is, by design, instantly less expressive. Kang takes her time to show feelings for Seo-hyun.

Photo: Well Go USA

Unfortunately, this is Kang’s unexpected farewell performance. Actress, a star in Korea for several decades, He died after completing the movie. This sense of loss is eerily apt for the material, which considers how and when the human brain’s mimicry shapes its own life-form, and what this kind of superficial life-extension might mean for more traditional forms of consciousness. Although it contains satirical moments, JUNG_E”Pangs of grief multiply within the film as it progresses.

By the time it returns to a more dramatic climax, the film feels like a true hybrid, rather than a case of tonal whack-a-mole. When the movie shows a swarm of robots with human faces in general, they don’t just look like the robot designs from 2004. I’m a robot; Yeon seems to have made a more quirky personal companion for this hack movie, among other things. JUNG_E It has a lot of spare, sometimes unwanted green screen effects. But both the robots and the humans they collect move with unexpected grace.

JUNG_E Streaming on Netflix now.