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Alienoid 2: Return to the Future - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Wi-gye + in 2-bu

South Korea 2023

Action, Sci-fi, Wuxia

Choi Dong-hoon

Ryu Jun-yeol
Kim Woo-bin
Kim Tae-ri
Lee Hanee
Jin Sun-kyu
Yum Jung-ah
Jo Woo-jin
So Ji-sub
Lee Si-hoon
Shin Jung-keun

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Alienoid 2: Return to the Future

Alienoid 2: Return to the Future - Film Screenshot 1

Story: Yian (Kim Tae-ri) is still stuck in the Goryeo dynasty, searching for both the Sacred Blade that allows her to find her way back to 2022 and Thunder (Kim Woo-bin), the robot who can also help her find her way to the present. In the meantime, the daoist Moo-reuk (Ryu Jun-yeol) is looking for the blade too, but he is also aware he has some kind of creature in his body. In fact, aliens who are being imprisoned in human bodies on Earth are also looking for the blade. They want to hinder Yian or Moo-reuk from traveling back to the year 2022 as both of them intend to prevent an explosion there, which will cause perfect living conditions for all aliens on Earth due to a gas. The warrior Nong-pa (Jin Sun-kyu) doesn't know anything about all this, but he searches for the blade to restore his eye sight. The two sorcerers Heuk-sol (Yum Jung-ah) and Cheong-woon (Jo Woo-jin) are also involved in the hunt. Meanwhile, the detonation is happening in the present, releasing the gas, which means there is a catastrophe in the making. Investigator Min Gae-in (Lee Hanee) witnesses some inexplicable occurrences, but when she tries to warn her colleagues, nobody listens to her. Luckily, Yian and Moo-reuk show up and want to prevent the worst. But they need more backup if they want to have a chance against the powerful aliens...

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Alienoid 2: Return to the Future - Film Screenshot 4

Review: It felt like you had to wait a good deal longer for the sequel to "Alienoid" than expected. Therefore, I was afraid that I would no longer be able to find my way around the story. Thanks to an appropriately long summary of the events of the first part, this shouldn't be too much of a problem for most people, though. Nevertheless, I recommend rewatching the first part beforehand, otherwise you will be quite in the dark again about the characters and their relationships to each other. It takes a while for the movie to find its rhythm and for the sometimes lovable characters to draw us back into the movie. Strictly speaking, with all that's happening, it's a miracle that you feel drawn into the events in the first place and that everything doesn't just seem like a wild series of action and comedy scenes. It is also astonishing - as it was with the first part - that this mixture of science fiction and fantasy works much better than it should. Because you could easily imagine this movie being produced in China and for a streaming service and then simply turn out ridiculous.

Alienoid 2: Return to the Future - Film Screenshot 5

Of course, the convincing special effects do their part to make the action look believable, but it's mainly the actors, who put their hearts into it, that make the movie work so well. I'm still not sure if the switch between the Goryeo dynasty and the present day works seamlessly, as we always stay in the respective time period for a very long time and you might get the impression that the movie consists of different episodes, but honestly, it couldn't have been done much better. So, I was pleasantly surprised in this respect too. It's difficult to describe why the mix works so well. Perhaps you could put it this way: The wuxia elements, along with daoists flying over rooftops and qi punches, feel like you are watching a Marvel superhero movie in the present. And in fact, this time director Choi Dong-hoon ("Assassination") even takes it up a notch and creates an epic adventure that manages to come up with a successful finale. Not only are there explosions and a thunderstorm of special effects, but the characters give the scenes a special touch, so that the action sometimes feels a lot more original than it does in most Hollywood blockbusters of recent years.

Alienoid 2: Return to the Future - Film Screenshot 6

The story works via several entangled plotlines, but they are skillfully brought together and also include an interesting twist. The numerous characters and their respective goals are the driving force of the movie, and it's always nice to see the story, whether it's original at its core or not, being driven by its characters. The different individuals all get enough time, only Yian seems to take a back seat. But everyone will be able to find his/her favorite character here. In addition to the sorcerers from the Twin Peaks, who are once again a small highlight, the investigator also gets more screen time this time around, and then there is Nong-pa as a powerful warrior right out of a wuxia flick who mixes everything up a bit - all of them making the movie even more varied and colorful. While the flick's tone is on the expected level of a light-hearted action movie, there are even moments when elements of a horror movie shine through. For example, when a special task force is sent into the gas-filled zone and gets decimated by the aliens (who look quite frightening). But even that somehow fits surprisingly seamlessly into the rest of the movie. One problem remains, though: The flick feels a bit episodic every now and then, but that happens quite rarely and the excellent pacing always keeps the ball rolling.

Alienoid 2: Return to the Future - Film Screenshot 7

Despite the good pacing, director Choi doesn't make the mistake of producing his movie too over-the-top, as is usually the case with epic sequels. There are down-to-earth fight scenes topped off with wire-fu and sometimes a bit of comedy. In the world of "Alienoid" it is also no problem that the sorceress can grow her fist to gigantic proportions through a mirror, because, if necessary, the movie is also sprinkled with comic elements. It's as if the director tried to fit as much as possible of everything that might be entertaining into two hours. And it works most of the time. The story is actually completely overloaded with its countless characters and two timelines, but the most important things all make sense in the end without you having to rack your brain too much. Director Choi lets his images and the action speak for themselves. The created world is extremely vivid and full of small details, the sets are well chosen, and the structure of the movie is more coherent than you would think. The soundtrack also skillfully underlines the action.

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By the end of this review, it should have become clear that "Alienoid 2" is simply good popcorn entertainment, without necessarily making you have a guilty conscience afterwards. Director Choi is aware of the absurdity of most of the elements in his work and despite this, or rather precisely because of it, he shows them self-confidently. What was still a problem in the first part, has almost completely disappeared in the second part, because having watched the first installment, you have already agreed to get involved in this colorful world. Sure, the script has its problems, as it's a bit too entangled considering that it is at best a mediocre sci-fi story, but the actors all bring an enormous amount of energy to the screen, and the events are almost perfectly timed, so that the pacing is always thrilling. With its finale, "Alienoid 2" also manages to create a worthy conclusion. Wuxia and sci-fi fans will feel satisfied too. After a somewhat bumpy first half, as I had to find my way back into the story, Choi's movie felt like an entertaining roller coaster ride, and it is unquestionably recommendable as popcorn cinema.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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