For those who think that Hollywood is the only film industry to capitalize on big, dumb, spectacle-driven films, Alienoid is solid proof that this isn’t true. Not only is this South Korean full of overblown action sequences, tons of special effects, and cheesy humor, it is also a cliffhanger with the sequel already filmed and planned for future release. Because the sign of a successful blockbuster is no longer a stand-alone film but the potential for a franchise, Alienoid could be seen as accomplishing this assuming audiences are interested enough to return for the continuation of the narrative. Personally, I found myself underwhelmed. Then again, I have had the same experience with a majority of thriving Hollywood franchises as well.
Part of the difficulty with Alienoid is that the narrative is unnecessarily convoluted, taking place over two time periods with a large cast of characters. For a film offering relatively dumbed down entertainment, Alienoid asks a great deal of effort from the audience to keep up with what is going on. Even if it makes sense by the end of the film, the journey may be too confusing for audience members looking to turn off their brains and be entertained.
Beginning in 14th century, a team of aliens with advanced technology show up to combat an alien wreaking havoc. It is revealed that destructive aliens have been imprisoned in human bodies on Earth by the advanced alien society, which does not believe in death penalty as a solution for criminals. Guard (Kim Woo-bin) is an alien with a robotic suit that is tasked with capturing and containing the aliens who manage to escape from their human bodies, with the help of a robot named Thunder (Kim Dae-myung), which takes multiple forms from a car to replications of Guard in human form.
When Guard and Thunder discover a child belonging to the woman imprisoning the alien they have just dispatched, the pair become impromptu parents. After taking her back to modern times, Lee Ahn (Choi Yu-ri) grows into a precocious young girl who observes her parental figures’ bizarre behavior. At the same time, a rebellion begins amongst the aliens imprisoned on Earth, threatening the human race.
If this modern portion of the film was all there was, Alienoid could have been a fairly straightforward blockbuster, but instead the narrative also simultaneously tells the story of a bumbling swordsman named Mureuk (Ryu Jun-yeol) in the 14th century’s Goryeo Dynasty who comes across a mysterious woman (Kim Tae-ri) carrying a gun that is perceived as magic. Although this period storyline eventually connects to the modern portion of the narrative, much of the film is spent jumping back and forth between seemingly unrelated plots.
There are moments of strength within Alienoid, including some impressive special effects and action sequences, but the overall experience of watching the film may take more effort than it is worth. Even though there is a sequel already filmed and planned for release, by the end of the movie I had little interest in spending more time with this story and these characters. The simple fact that the story is not resolved at the end of the 140-minute run-time may be enough to put off some viewers.
For those who still want to see Alienoid, the Blu-ray release is the best home entertainment option, especially given the emphasis the film places on visual spectacle. The Blu-ray also has a making-of featurette, as well as a handful of trailers for the movie. An English-language dubbing is also an option for those who are resistant to subtitles.
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6/10
Historical Significance: 4/10
Special Features: 3.5/10