Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Zombie Train to Busan

Zombies are fictional demons, undead creatures surviving on human brains. Derived from Haitian mythology, zombies were around in Hollywood from some time. But it was George Romero's Living Dead series that established the present zombie characters. Hollywood zombies are generally ugly, walks in a slow pace and those who are bit by them also become zombies. Breaking out of zombie apocalypse is a general theme in zombie movies.

Unlike other popular movie demons like vampires, werewolves and various Nicolas Cage characters, zombies doesn't have a personality. They are ugly, dull and uninteresting. So it becomes a challenge to make a zombie movie. To succeed, either you have to go in full exploitation gear with graphic violence and nudity or you need something extra, a quirky plot twist or a different concept that doesn't depend on zombies alone. Some movies like Night of the Living Dead used sublime social commentary to achieve greatness, while some others like Shaun of the Dead used satire and comedy.

Recently I watched such a movie titled Warm Bodies which is basically a zombie rom-com. As in many zombie movies, a zombie apocalypse is ongoing and a tiny group of humans are resisting them. A zombie named R kills and eats the brain of the boyfriend of Julie, a human. He starts developing feelings for her. As bizarre the plot may sound, Warm Bodies is an interesting movie. Violence is not on-the-face kind and the movie itself is pretty cute for one involving romancing a zombie.

And that brings us to the topic, the South Korean zombie movie that I happened to watch last day, Train To Busan. Now one thing that I noticed about Korean movies is that they never go for a middle path. Its always extremities for them. Here also, the two hour running time is fully packed with extreme action and emotion. Everybody runs around and fight each other with zombies multiplying rapidly around them. We never get time off to think about what's happening on screen. Some of the zombie effects, especially in climax, reminded me of World War Z, but this one is infinitely better than the Brad Pitt vehicle in all aspects.

With all the action and melodrama crammed up, there were a few miss steps in the movie too. Some decisions made by characters seemed too improbable in the situations. Many of them were made up just to ensure that zombies reach the main characters when the director wanted them to. The movie tried to send some messages across about being unselfish and spending more time with kids, but all those were either totally muddled in the action or rendered pointless by the end.

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